While razors are still an everyday object, there has been a move in the 21st Century towards the reacceptance of a woman’s natural body hair.

introduction of the razor

Razor is one of the tools that people use to remove their body hair. Nowadays, there are different types of razors in the markets aiming to fulfill the needs of every consumer. They are usually made with a plastic body due to their water-resistance capabilities and an upper area where the blades are made from thin layers of stainless steel. Since razors started to be massproduced around the end of the 19th century, an explosion of different styles of razors can be seen, like safety razors, electric ones, or razors with lubricant strips and multiple blades. This post aims to examinethe relation of razors to important movements of the 21st century regarding inclusivity and acceptance.

Even though razors have evolved to be a widely common object that can be found in almost every house, making shaving a practice well-known to millennials, the remains of ancient razors have given insight into the relationship between people and their body hair even from prehistoric ages (Tiggemann et al., 1998). However, throughout the centuries, shaving represented different things. In the 20th century, for instance, when the first razor commercials appeared addressing women, women’s hairlessness started to become a pop culture (Collard, 2021). The film industry has also shown the common notion on the razor’s use, as countless famous movies and series include scenes showing women removing their body hair or men shaving. 

shaving, body hair, and femininity

In the 21st century, razors and shaving were part of expressing women’s identity, as the beauty standards required their bodies to be hairless (Torerian et al., 2003). Removing body hair was so normative as well as connected to femininity and attractiveness that it contributed to the notion that women’s bodies are unacceptable as they are naturally (Torerian et al., 2003) (Tiggemann et al., 1998). Around 2015, as the resistance to the deeply patriarchal stereotypes about the feminine body grew stronger, the body positivity movement was created in order to support and help marginalized people accept and love themselves as they are (Amin, 2021). The goals of the body positivity movement were translated into different sources of marginalization like fat, skin condition and tone, disability, and body hair (Amin, 2021). The movement’s success is related to its huge anti-hair removal campaigns included in the most reputable magazines. The discussion that began in social media from the wave of body hair acceptance created an important debate regarding the roles of gender and the stereotypes around them. People from showbiz with a “powerful” position on Instagram started posting photos with hairy armpits, and regular women shared online their stories regarding their journey to body hair acceptance.

Celebrities embracing their body hair: Emily Ratajkowski for Harpers Bazaar cover on August 2019 issue. Madonna’s Instagram post. Model Bella Mae as photographed by J. Isobel De Lisle

Among these stories, women explained how liberated they felt when they let their body hair grow and stopped worrying about it. In addition, others described the connection that they felt with womanhood through the body hair growing process (Rimm, 2020). People again underlined how this misconception about femininity and hairless bodies was causing dysphoria as well as mental and body trauma (Rimm, 2020). Interviewed by ELLE magazine, a woman stated the following that contribute to the mental and body trauma regarding body hair removal:

“We get pushed into a never-ending fight with our bodies because hair always grows back, sometimes darker and thicker than before.”

(Collard, 2021).

The body positivity movement undoubtedly changed how people expected women’s bodies to be (Amin, 2021). The latter also translated to a new era of razor commercials. Old brands like Gillette along with new ones like Billie, the identity of which was based on the previously mentioned movement created and advertised their products more inclusively. Namely, women with actual body hair became commercial ambassadors of the brand, and new products without gender orientation were created.

razors contributed to LGBTQ+ community rights

The LGBTQ+ community representation on the shaving process was another accomplishment that constructed razors’ biography. Since the beginning of the 21st century, small steps towards equality have been made for people from the LGBTQ+ community (Eichler, 2021). In 2001, same-sex marriage was recognized in the Netherlands, with many other countries following (Eichler, 2021).  Alongside the fight for equal human rights, a discussion started about how gender-oriented products failed to represent people from the LGBTQ+ community, and in a way excluded them from their target groups. As a result, old and newborn companies started during 2019 creating gender-free products and campaigns specially designed to embrace and support  the LGBTQ+ movement. 

Even if these initiatives were undertaken for marketing reasons, they undoubtedly influenced culture and kept the discussion on equality and human rights going. It was also a new opportunity to address the stereotypes around the appearance of people who belong to the LGBTQ+ community. Body hair plays a significant role as part of gender expression and it forms a way to make a statement and address those stereotypes (Rimm, 2020). Anjimile, said during the interview with Rimm the following:

“I relate my body hair to my transness, but I also see it as a way to go against mainstream body hair expectations”

(Rimm, 2020)


Throughout the years the razor represented different things. However in the 21st century people started to question the reasons why specific notions about body hair have been established. On the one hand, femininity has been linked to hairless and smooth bodies and for many years women felt accepted and attractive only when they removed their body hair. However, the body positivity movement raised concerns about the stigma and trauma that was caused to women by the pressure of being socially “obligated” to remove body hair. Until now we are in the middle of a sociocultural transformation by reviewing all the past stereotypes that constructed our perceptions about women’s nature, and the razor has been a symbolic representative of these transformations of the 21st century. 

Moreover, discussion regarding stereotypes in the LGBTQ+ community has been initiated. According to people who belong to this community, body hair is a way to construct their identity and make a statement (Rimm, 2020). However, these are not necessarily responding to stereotypes regarding their appearance. To add to that, the razor became a tool to this form of expression, and products that directly appeal to people within the LGBTQ+ community embraced their movement and supported their demands for equality, representation and respect of human rights. 

For many years, body hair or the absence of it was part of people’s gender identity, as society was expecting hairless women and hairy men, a stereotype that was prevailing within the LGBTQ+ community as well. The razor thus, except for its functional role, symbolizes a new era in the 21st century where representation matters.


Name: Razor

3D Model

Creator: Lamprini Metaxopoulou

Date: 27-01-2022

Place: Maastricht

Themes: Inclusivity, Wellness

Captured with iPhone 12 

Processed with Agisoft Metashape Professional Software run on Windows 10 (64 bit)

Sketchfab: https://skfb.ly/ost8U

Physical Object

Size: 16 x 8.8 x 4.8 cm

Weight: 113 g

Material: Plastic, stainless steel


Amin H. (2021, March 11). The erasure of brown women from the body hair movement is nothing new, but this time we’ve had enough. Mxogyny.


Binder S. (2020, March 20). Hapi Shaving is Fun and Inclusive. The Dielline. https://thedieline.com/blog/2020/7/16/-hapi-shaving?

Collard J. (2021, July 23). Let it Grow: Moving on From Body-Hair Stigma. Elle Canada. https://www.ellecanada.com/beauty/hair/letitgrowmovingonfrombodyhairstigma

Eichler, M. (2021). Same-Sex Marriage in Canada. In The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/samesexmarriageincanada

Guardian News. (2019, January 15). Gillette’s ‘We believe: the best men can be’ razors commercial takes on toxic masculinity. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYaY2Kb_PKI  

Petersen M. et al., (2020). “The Best Men Can Be”. Kvinder Køn & Forskning 29 (1), 6-18. 10.7146/kkf.v29i1.123445

Silver E. (2020, March 29). A New Wave of Women Is Refusing to Remove Their Body Hair — I’m One of Them . An Injustice. https://aninjusticemag.com/anewwaveofwomenarerefusingtoremovetheirbodyhairimoneofthema040956a28e4

Tigemann M. et al., (1998). The Hairlessness Norm: The Removal of Body Hair in Women. Sex Roles 39, 873–885 https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1018828722102

Toerien M. et al., (2003). Gender and Body Hair: Constructing the feminine woman. Women’s Studies International Forum, 26(4), 333-344. https://doi.org/10.1016/S02775395(03)000785.