This article — How the beauty industry convinced women to shave their legs — is a fascinating bit of history, but the article seems overblown in blaming advertising. (As Brian? pointed out on Facebook: “It’s easy to retroactively look back, find advertisements, and blame them as the cause. But have there not been other ads throughout history for trends that never caught on? Which came first, the demand for the product, or the ads for it?”
The fact seems to be that women increasingly shaved body parts as they became exposed by fashion trends, and those evil capitalists capitalized on that desire. As far the fashion burdens of women are concerned, being free to wear almost nothing but being expected to shave armpits, legs, and bikini line is infinitely better than enduring the long, heavy dresses of eras in which showing an ankle was scandalous. And perhaps I’m just brainwashed by advertising, but smooth skin does prettify.
Plus, women today are perfectly free not to shave, if they choose. They might get some looks and comments, but it’s hardly on par with People of Wal-mart.
And… well… I say that as someone who has been lax about shaving legs for quite a while, but lately decided to “put in a fucking effort.” (Yes, that’s exactly what I say to myself in my head.) Not that I think that everyone has to do that, but it makes a huge difference in how I view myself, particularly sexually. So it’s well worth it to me.