While this may come as a shock to you Waxing The City clients, waxing is a relatively new phenomenon in the United States. Interestingly, as we looked back through time, we noticed that the introduction - and entire evolution - of hair removal for American women has followed the substantial changes in women's swimwear fashion. So, in honor of bikini season, we thought it fitting to show you the evolution of the bikini and how, during its own slow and steady progress, the bikini has impacted the entire hair removal industry.
In Part 1 of this series we took you through the history of the 1900s. Now, in Part 2 we'll pick up where we left off last by starting off with a look back at the 1910s and taking you through the decade of the 1930s.
1910s: While women were still completely unfamiliar with the idea of hair removal at this point, it was finally becoming acceptable for women to swim. The first step toward modern swimwear came when Annette Kellerman, an Olympic swimmer, was arrested on a Boston beach for indecency. She was wearing a fitted one-piece bathing suit, which still covered everything except her arms and neckline (pictured right). Kellerman became famous for advocating the right of women to wear a one-piece bathing suit, which was very controversial at the time. While women’s swimwear made some progress when Kellerman’s one piece finally became acceptable beach attire, women’s hair removal progressed enormously! In 1915, Gillette introduced the first razor for women.
1920s: In their advertisements for the women’s razor, Gillette focused on teaching women to shave their underarms since this was one area of a woman’s body that was acceptable for women to expose. In the later part of the 1920s the shaving industry began focusing their attention on women’s legs, just as they had done with their underarms. Unfortunately, flesh-colored stockings were introduced to prevent women from exposing their bare legs and acted as a hassle-free solution for leg hair. Advertisers continued to try and teach women how to shave their legs and began promoting the idea that hair free skin was desirable.
1930s: With new materials like nylon and latex, swimsuits began hugging the body more, necklines began to plunge, and leggings were cut away. Now that women were exposing their bare legs on the beach, removing leg hair was incorporated into the cultural norm. However, this newly accepted leg exposure was kept to a minimum and women were expected to wear shorts that were a certain length.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of "The Evolution of Bikini's and Waxing in America" blog series!