双语阅读 | 剃须历史知多少

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The History of Shaving


The History of Shaving


王淑怡 供稿


Although the exact timeline of shaving isn’t clear, most experts and found artifacts suggest that shaving has been around since approximately 100,000 BC, when cavemen would eliminate hair from their body by pulling them out one at a time, even using rocks or shells to speed the process. Fast-forward another 70,000 years and early man has recognized the value of sharpened flint, not only good for striking fire, but also for delicately slicing off hair from the body!



The real history of shaving, however, doesn’t begin until we reach the Egyptian civilization, where the act of shaving made its real debut on the world stage. Egyptians had a powerful belief that body hair was a sign of uncleanliness, so both men and women engaged in the complete removal of hair from the body—head to toe! In some cases, caustic ingredients like quicklime and arsenic were used in these primitive depilatory creams and shaving lotions. Early razors also appeared around the time, with the rise in metalworking and mining in many areas of the world. The Egyptian relationship to cleanliness and body hair bordered on the obsessive, and the upper classes often bathed multiple times per day. They would shave their heads completely bald, and then wear out cooling wigs in public.



According to anthropologists, the fear of uncleanliness may have been the early reason for prehistoric man to shave. Body hair provides an ideal environment for lice and other unwanted critters, and can also be a breeding ground for fungal infections, particularly in hot or humid weather. Furthermore, having an excess of body hair led to the much faster development of body odor, another sign of uncleanliness within the rigid Egyptian society.



As a result of these elevated opinions, shaving became somewhat associated with class and status. Having an unshaven face in Egypt meant that you could not afford to visit a barber every day, or perhaps that you didn’t care about your appearance or standing in society. To this day, there are still areas where having an unshaven face is associated with laziness or a lack of professionalism.



This habit of shaving off one’s hair wasn’t immediately embraced by the rest of the world, but the Greeks and Romans were eventually won over in the 4th century BC. Not only was Alexander the Great a massive proponent of shaving—every single day—but also noted that less hair meant enemy combatants would have less to grab onto, making Roman warriors even hardier and more formidable.



For the next thousand years, shaving spreads throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Some cultures keep a clean but impressive beard, while shaving off all the other hair on their bodies, while other cultures object to removing body hair in other areas. In various countries at various times, there are waves of popularity behind shaving, sometimes in line with a cultural movement, or a particular fashion trend.





1. artifact n. (尤指有历史或文化价值的) 手工艺品

2. caveman n. (史前石器时代的)穴居人;野人

3. flint n. 燧石;打火石;极硬的东西

4. made debut 首秀首次亮相

5. caustic adj.  腐蚀性的;

6. quicklime n. 生石灰

7. arsenic n.

8. metalworking n. 金属制造

9. anthropologist n. 人类学家

10. prehistoric adj. 史前的,有文字记载以前的

11. lice n. 虱子(louse 的复数)

12. critter n. 生物;小动物

13. fungal adj. 真菌的

14. odor n. 气味;名声

15. combatant n. 战士;争斗者


  • 字数:591个
  • 易读度:困难
  • 来源:王淑怡 2021-10-18