Friday, March 14, 2014

To Be Chic and Dainty...

March is Women’s History Month, so in honor of the month, our “Cool Things in the Museum” display is featuring one of the first razors specifically designed for women in the 1920s. It’s funny how many daily habits and chores we go about without thinking about their origins. When did people start flossing their teeth? Who decided cereal was a breakfast food? But most importantly, who decided that women needed to shave their underarms?
                Believe it or not, the habit of female shaving is actually fairly recent. For centuries, shaving was purely a ritual for men. So, who started this new social rule? Who do we have to blame for the extra hassle? Blame it on the flapper. Yes, the icon of the 1920s, the American flapper, began the rise of women’s shaving habits.
                Up until World War I, women were expected to be covered from neck to wrist. Their underarms were never seen, so why bother removing hair? But, after World War I, women’s fashions began to change drastically. Hemlines rose to the knee and sleeves disappeared altogether. Harper’s Bazaar ran the first advertisement displaying a woman with “naked” arms in 1915 and by the 1920s, sleeveless dresses became the highest fashion.
When Nellie Manz was elected president of the Rebekahs in the 1920s, she wore a dress made in the latest style to the local meetings. Her dress can also be seen this month in the Cool Case.
When Robina Manley Hedges was married in Junction City on August 10, 1929, her dress perfectly highlighted all the details of 1920s fashion.  Her dress (seen here) featured a shorter skirt, a sleek line and a sleeveless top. 

 With the new fashion fashion grew a new grooming habit for women: shaving.  The first razors specifically designed for a lady were sold in the 1920s. The Curvfit, found in the Cool Case at the museum, was one of these razors. Their advertisement read: “For Personal Daintiness: Here’s the key to true personal daintiness. CURVFIT removes unsightly hair from underarms and limbs speedily, efficiently and safely. To be chic and dainty…you must be hair free!”  And women have taken this rule seriously because ever since then, razor companies have marketed razors specifically tailored for women.
                So ladies, next time you complain about the cost of a new razor, or the hassle of shaving, just remember—blame those 1920s flappers!
                Stop in to the Geary County Historical Society to see this early example of women’s razors in our new “Cool Things at the Museum” exhibit.  This monthly rotating display will feature fun and “who-knew?” items that we find in our large collection. You never know what you might see!