When Did Women Start Shaving?

American women had no need to shave their underarms before about 1915 — after all, who ever saw them? Even the word “underarm” was considered scandalous. Then came the sleeveless dress. An ad in the fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar decreed that to wear it a woman would need to first see to the “removal of objectionable hair.” They didn’t need much convincing, and by the early 1920s, hairy underarms were a thing of the past. The 1920s was also a risqué time for the legs, but most women of the era didn’t seem to feel the need to shave them. When hemlines dropped in the 1930s, the point became moot. The 1940s, however, brought even shorter skirts, sheerer stockings, and the rise of leggy pin-ups such as Betty Grable. The “removal of objectionable hair” suddenly applied to the legs as well as the armpits.