Leg shaving

Leg shaving

Leg shaving is the practice of removing leg hair using a razor. It is a very common practice among women in Western countries, and is also done by some men, especially cyclists and swimmers. In addition to shaving the hair off, some individuals may use waxing, sugaring, depilatories, depilation devices, or lasers to remove the hair. These hair-removal methods are often also practiced on armpit hair and pubic hair.

Shaving can be done with an electric razor or a regular, manual one. If a non-electric razor is used, a lathering agent, such as soap or a special "shaving cream" or foam, is usually used to avoid razor burn.

Amongst men

Certain male bicyclists shave their legs often. This is done for two primary reasons: road rash heals faster without the presence of leg hair (and is easier to clean) and massaging of the legs is less painful without leg hair. Secondary reasons include aesthetics, fitting in with cycling peers, and "feeling faster" (without the feel of wind resistance on body hair). There are other reasons too: It also helps the lycra bike pants to 'stick' to the skin better with shaved legs. Absence of leg hair also assists in preventing ingrown hairs in the upper thighs from tight-fitting lycra shorts.

Swimmers shave their legs to reduce friction in the water. It provides a minimal decrease in drag through improving the effects of laminar forces on the swimmers body.

Many athletes also shave their legs and/or bodies to facilitate therapeutic massage that is frequently a part of their training or post-race recovery programs. They may also shave their legs if they tape protective gear to them to prevent the tape from pulling painfully on the hair when removed.

It is also practiced by male models and bodybuilders, since it tends to show off muscle definition better.

Amongst women

For women, the practice of shaving the legs derives from a current cultural standard in the West that deems leg hair on women unattractive. This standard emerged during the early twentieth century, as women's legs became more visible owing to shorter hemlines, and when the safety razor made the practice of leg shaving practical. The reasons for this cultural standard are debated, but it is sometimes seen as an example of a cultural mechanism for increasing sexual dimorphism. Others have suggested that it was promoted as a means of selling razors to a broader segment of the populace.

Depending on the amount of hair or individual patience, some women may only shave the hair below the knee, while others shave the entire leg. The frequency of shaving also varies from individual to individual. Some shave as often as every day, and others may not bother to shave at all during winter months when their legs aren't visible to the public. In general, younger women tend to shave more frequently than older women. Women who shave their legs typically do so while bathing or showering.

Some women, despite the social pressures that favor hairless legs in certain Western countries, never shave at all. While some refrain out of lack of concern, others consider leg and armpit shaving an unnatural and repressive societal double standard. Still others refrain in an effort to be less environmentally wasteful. Research also suggests that women who do not shave their body hair are "characterized by higher global self-esteem." [cite journal|author=Tiggemann, Marika|coauthors=Christine Lewis|title=Attitudes Towards Women's Body Hair: Relationship with Disgust Sensitivity|journal=Psychology of Women Quarterly|volume=28|year=2004|pages=381|doi=10.1111/j.1471-6402.2004.00155.x] Scholars suggest that this is because women with lower levels of self-esteem are less likely to be satisfied with their natural bodies, and thus more likely to alter them. [cite journal|author=Tiggemann, Marika|coauthors=Sarah J. Kenyon|title=The Hairlessness Norm: The Removal of Body Hair in Women|journal=Sex Roles|volume=39|issue=11/12|year=1998|pages=876|doi=10.1023/A:1018828722102]

Most women begin the practice of leg-shaving at some point during adolescence. It can serve as an unofficial "rite of passage" in some countries.

Special razors, somewhat different in shape from those aimed at men for face-shaving, are often marketed to women. Advertising campaigns also promote hair-removal products, such as dipilatories and waxing kits, which, when used on women's legs, allegedly will render them "sexy" or "silky smooth".

Unusual in other parts of the world, the practice of leg shaving among women is most common in Brazil, North America, Australia, Middle East, and Western Europe.

ee also

* Depilation
* Hirsutism
* Underarm hair
* Pubic hair
* Waxing


Dr. D. Graham Wells of Harvard University suggests the Western custom of shaving legs has direct correlation to the male obsession of prepubescence. This information that was taken from his essay "Victorian Women and Why I Love Them". Boston: Harvard University Press, 2003.

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