Shaving, waxing, and all manner of hair removal for aesthetic reasons is a personal matter, and entirely according to personal preferences. The Argosy is not suggesting that smooth legs and a bare chest are to any degree superior to the gift of hair bestowed by nature, nor does our humble little paper want to advocate the practice of hair removal to the unconverted. That said, the tradition of maiming our manes has persisted throughout human history, for health, religion, and of course, beauty.
On the surface, the exercise of shaving and waxing appears a rather modern visual novelty. Just take a gander at pornographic films prior to 1980. It would appear that North Americans have, by and large, found themselves in a fight against follicles as they prioritize smooth bodies over woolly ones. We’ll shave, wax, and even apply lasers to our natural fur coats in hopes of achieving that bald body.
The practice of hair removal is hardly a new one, however. Nearly every human culture has, to some degree, a tradition of human fleecing embedded into it. The popularity of body hair has waned and waxed throughout human history; Alexander the Great apparently had poor facial hair growth, and shaved regularly to hide his boyishly patchy beard. In Ancient India, there was a period of time where it was in vogue to garner a glorious beard, while shaving hair off of the rest of the body.
As early as 3000-4000 BCE, we see evidence to suggest that women were applying creams made from arsenic, lime, and starch to burn away their body hair. Regrettably, as time marched on the methods employed by women hardly improved, as later approaches saw the use of fire to simply burn the hair right off. Around 3000 BCE we begin to see metal shaving implements appearing in areas such as Egypt and India, and while shaving had been in practice prior to this, the invention made the entire process quicker. It is not likely, however, that these early razors made the process cleaner.
There is also a darker side to hair removal; during World War II women who were found to have been involved sexually with the Nazi’s could expect to have their hair removed to shame them for their behaviour. More recently there were arrests in 2011 in connection to assaults on Amish men in Ohio, where their beards were forcibly removed.
Nowadays the most common procedure for hair removal comes in the form of razors, waxes, and creams. Shaving is a quick, and mostly painless approach, as contemporary razors have been refined beyond their ancient predecessors. Though shaved hair grows back more quickly, it is pretty much the only way to go for removing facial hair. Waxing is favoured for removing hair on the chest, legs, and pubic region. It can be messy, and very dangerous if done incorrectly. One must be careful not to apply the wax when it is too hot, or risk burning the skin. Burn or no burn, this technique will still be very painful, as fundamentally you are tearing the hairs right out of your body. Finally, there are the depilatory creams. They vary in terms of ingredients, so it would be wise to investigate your options and determine if you might have an allergy prior to applying any of them to your hair. Essentially, the creams are chemicals that will dissolve your hair. With that in mind you need to make sure you don’t leave the cream on for too long, or you will experience a painful chemical burn.
For those readers over the age of nineteen, and of a mind to drink, having a bottle of wine, beer, or whiskey handy might make the whole process a little easier. You should also have some friends around, as they will certainly enjoy watching you partake in a centuries long tradition of self-inflicted agony for questionable visual appeal.