Tuesday, January 20, 2015


I just finished watching a TV Miniseries titles Spartacus. It gives one a better visual of what the Pax-Romana world was like during the time of JESUS CHRIST.
Though they could have used fewer gallons of Stage Blood and far less acts of sex, though they were very true to this period in world history but I am a much older man now.
On high definition TV, the only flaws in this well done show, was the modern eye make up on female Domina and Slave alike, along with shaved under arms, which I did not believe women of that era did. Yes a knit pick in history for me, so I checked:

NORTH AMERICAN WOMEN after Greco/Roman times had no need to shave their underarms before about 1915 – after all, who ever saw them? Even the word “underarm” was considered scandalous, what with it being so near certain other interesting body parts. Then arrived the sleeveless dress. An ad in the fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar decreed that to wear it (and certainly to wear it while participating in “Modern Dancing”), women would need to first see to “the removal of objectionable hair.” They didn’t need much convincing, and by the early ’20s, hairy underarms were so last decade, at least in America.
The 1920s fashion was risqué on the bottom half, too, but most women of the era didn’t seem to feel the need to shave their legs, and when hemlines dropped again 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 a lot more surface area.
To be sure, women had been concerned about the appearance of their hair again since time immemorial, but (sensibly) only the stuff you could see. Prior to World War I, this meant scalp hair and for an unlucky few facial hair. Around 1915, however, sleeveless dresses became popular, opening up a whole new field of female vulnerability for marketers to exploit.
According to Harper's Bazaar Magazine the underarm campaign began in May, 1915, in Harper's Bazaar, a magazine aimed at the upper crust. The first ad "featured a waist-up photograph of a young woman who appears to be dressed in a slip with a toga-like outfit covering one shoulder. Her arms are arched over her head revealing perfectly clear armpits. The first part of the ad read "Summer Dress and Modern Dancing combine to make necessary the removal of objectionable hair!"
Within three months, of this Harper's Bazaar Ad, the once-shocking term "underarm" was being used. A few ads mentioned hygiene as a motive for getting rid of hair, but most appealed strictly to the ancient yearning to be hip and in style or as late wife Joyce told me once, "JUST BECAUSE". The Woman of Fashion ads said the underarm must be as smooth as the face, read a typical pitch.
This budding obsession with underarm hair drifted down to different female classes fairly slowly, roughly matching the widening popularity of sheer and sleeveless dresses. Anti-arm hair ads began appearing in middlebrow McCall's magazine in 1917. Women's razors and depilatories didn't show up in the Sears Roebuck catalog until 1922, the same year the company began offering dresses with sheer sleeves. By then the underarm battle was largely won. Advertisers no longer felt compelled to explain the need for their products but could concentrate simply on distinguishing themselves from their competitors.
The anti-leg hair campaign was more fitful. The volume of leg ads never reached the proportions of the underarm campaign. Women were apparently more ambivalent about calling attention to the lower half of their anatomy, perhaps out of fear that doing so would give the male of the species ideas in a way that naked underarms didn't.
Besides, there wasn't much practical need for shaved legs. After rising in the 1920s, hemlines dropped in the 1930s and many women were content to leave their leg hair alone. Still, some advertisers as well as an increasing number of fashion and beauty writers harped on the idea that female leg hair was a curse. Again my late wife Joyce told one of her daughters, if you start shaving, it will just grow in thicker. This young lady found this to be true when she broke her leg and was quite emotional to see that her leg looked like it came from the Planet of the Apes Movie set, after her cast was removed.
Though no one says so, what may have put the issue over the top was the famous WWII pinup or Bomber nose art, of the actress Betty Grable displaying her awesome long legs. Showing off one's legs became sort of a patriotic act. That plus shorter skirts and sheer stockings, which looked dorky with leg hair beneath, made the anti-hair pitch an easy sell.
Some argue that there's more to this than short skirts and sleeveless dresses. Greco/Roman statues of women in antiquity had no pubic hair, suggesting that hairless was some sort of ideal of feminine beauty embedded in Western culture. To my oldest daughter you are right, a lot of Western culture never got the message. As Greek women today (and Mediterranean women generally) don't shave their body hair. The practice has been confined largely to English-speaking women of North America and Great Britain, although one hears it's slowly spreading elsewhere around the world and yes, even to men. Today’s High Definition TV reveals much, I would say.
by Sir Richard…
P.S. Dominus is the Roman male word for master or owner of Slaves, Domina is the female form of the same. Though women could only rise to just below men, it is also where we get our English word ; to Dominate.

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