Part 3: Why Do Some Women NOT Shave?
There are many reasons a woman may chose not to shave. I have highlighted a few non-religious reasons that women cite as their reasoning behind not shaving.
1. It Saves Money! According to one study, shaving your legs 156 days out of the year costs an average of $250 per year. (Source 4)
2. It Saves Time! The average woman spends 15 mins shaving her legs at a minimum, 1 time a week. This is about 13 hours per year. If she shaves from the age of 13 to 50, the total is 481 hours of shaving or 20 full days in their whole life.
Shaving can have numerous side effects, including:
- Ingrown hair and resulting infection
- Razor burn or irritation
- Razor bumps (Pseudofolliculitis barbae)
But don’t worry, the cosmetic market offers many products to reduce these effects in order to capitalize on additional money making opportunities.
- Most frightening: Shaving your armpits can put you at greater risk for cancer.
- “The risk of breast cancer from antiperspirants could be heightened by underarm shaving, scientists have warned….In the latest study, analysis of a group of breast cancer patients found that those who used the products and shaved under their arms had contracted the disease up to 14 years younger than those who did neither.” (Source 5)
4. It helps protect the environment!
- It takes water, chemicals, and electricity to make razors and shaving cream. Factories that produce these items also emit tons of pollution and waste.
- Furthermore, you have the added negative environmental impact of transporting the products to retail stores.
- Once in your home, most women let the water run while shaving. It was estimated that in the UK, women use 13 billion gallons of water each year while shaving. (Source 6)
- At the end of the process, shaving gel, cream, and razors go down the drain or into the trash and ultimately, into our water or soil.
5. I refuse to conform!
Some women find shaving to be a “prohibitive and narrow standard of beauty imposed on women,” and they do not want to conform to a media and male-created, artificial standard of beauty. WANG (Women Against Non-essential grooming) believes that conventional beauty techniques are not the only way to be an attractive and socially worthwhile person. They support all struggles against the pressure to conform to hegemonic representations. (Source 7)
6. Shaving is Psychologically Damaging!
One study explored the idea of the “perfect female body.” Since the ideal is a fluctuating concept, few people are able to attain it and thus, failure and disappointment are inevitable. Striving to attain the “ideal” takes its toll on women in the form of physical pain, health problems, medical procedures, costs of beauty products, time and effort, and damaging psychological effects. (Source 8)
I believe that the more a woman physically alters her body because she views it to be sub-par or imperfect, the more she psychologically conditions herself to believe she is imperfect, needs altering and cannot accept herself naturally. A self-hate is developed that constantly needs to be addressed through shaving.
7. Shaving Makes Establishing Gender Equality More Difficult!
With a greater difference between men and women, in terms of how they look, there is greater sexual dimorphism. (Sexual dimorphism is a prototypical difference between males and females of the same species. Such as size, color or behavior.) Some studies suggest that the greater sexual dimorphism that exists, the greater gender or sexual inequality can be constructed. So, if women and men look completely different (women are hairless and men are hairy) the idea that men and women are radically different entities and thus should be treated differently can be constructed in the public’s eye. ie) the woman is feminine and should be submissive whereas the man should be masculine and dominant.
So, some women chose not to shave in order to help bring about more equality.
8. An Unconventional Idea: Professor Sheila Jeffreys, a women’s studies professor at the University of Melbourne is a supporter of an unconventional theory and touches upon it in her book, , Beauty and Mysogyny: Harmful Cultural Practices in the West (Routledge 2005).
She says that women shave their legs because men make them (a male owned razor company started marketing to women in the 1900s, men own most of the cosmetic companies and media outlets and therefor persuade women to shave). Men do this because they want to have a monopoly over hair. They want women to look like little girls without hair, (9) so they can feel older, masculine, and more powerful when compared to women. A hairy woman would undermine their masculinity and thus their power and status in society.
Thus, some women do not shave because they wish to look like women, not like little pre-pubescent girls.