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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 males, especially bicyclists and swimmers. In addition to shaving the hair off, some individuals may use waxing, sugaring, depilatories, epilation devices, or lasers to remove the hair. These hair-removal methods are often also practiced on armpit hair and pubic hair (known to shavers as the "bikini line").
Some hold the belief that, once shaving commences, the hair will grow out more thickly. However, this is a myth. The resulting stubble only makes the hairs seem to be thicker.
Shaving can be done with an electric razor or a regular, manual one. If a non-electric razor is used, some lathering agent such as soap or a special "shaving cream" or foam should be applied to the legs first, if a painful razor burn is to be avoided.
Certain male bicyclists who shave their legs often do so ostensibly because road rash or scrapes heal faster without the presence of leg hair. However, its primary purpose may be to serve as a means of establishing membership in a community of peers. Swimmers shave their legs to reduce friction in the water.
It is also practiced by some male models, since it tends to show off muscle better. As a result of its featuring in modeling, many average men are also shaving their legs, although this is still somewhat uncommon. There is also a social stigma that a man shaving his legs could be suspected to be homosexual.
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 twentieth century, at a time when women's legs became more visible, and when the safety razor made the practice of leg shaving practical. The reasons for this cultural standard are debated, but this 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 on their legs or the amount of the woman's 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 either while bathing or showering.
Some women, despite the social pressure for hairless legs in certain Western countries, simply never shave at all. While some refrain out of laziness or lack of concern, others do so consciously as a form of feminist revolt, protesting what they see as an unnatural and repressive societal double-standard. Still others refrain in an effort to be less environmentally wasteful.
Most women consider leg shaving to be a tedious activity, but some consider it relaxing. They usually begin the practice at some point during their adolescence. It can serve as an unofficial "rite of passage" into womanhood in some countries.
Special razors, somewhat different in shape from razors aimed at men who shave their faces, are often marketed at women. Advertising campaigns promote hair removal products, which, when applied to the woman's legs, allegedly will make them "sexy" or "silky smooth".
Uncommon in most other parts of the world, the practice of leg shaving among women is common in North America, Australia, and much of Western Europe -- so much so that the term "hairy" has come to denote one type of fetishism on pornographic websites.
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