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Sweden mulls shaving products ban for minors

Published: 01 Apr 2012 09:53 GMT+02:00
Updated: 01 Apr 2012 13:01 GMT+02:00

As a first step toward implementing the new law, the government plans to launch an inquiry later this spring in the wake of a recent "armpit media" outrage in which women with unshaven armpits became the subject of torment and internet hate.

The incident also prompted additional concerns after it was revealed that girls in Sweden as young as nine-years-old thought it was "natural" to have shorn hair.

"We realized after the bullying that something had to be done," Jenny Hårfager of Svenska Kroppsbildsverket (Swedish Agency for Self Esteem and Body Health – KBV) told The Local.

"Young people shouldn't be influenced into unnecessary body maintenance. By taking away the option of purchasing shaving products for minors, we allow people to make the decision when they are at the right age – which we believe is 18."

Attention was brought to the matter earlier in early March when music fan and librarian Lina Ehrin was captured on TV inadvertently flashing her hairy armpits to television viewers during the broadcast of the popular "Melodifestivalen" song contest finals.

The moment was captured by a home viewer and posted online, resulting in Facebook groups featuring thousands of Swedes pledging their allegiance to both the pro- and anti-body hair camps.

Eventually, a protest was held in Malmö where unshaven women united in a show of solidarity to "reclaim the hair", making headlines around the world.

Finally, "Lady Dahmer", who was curating Sweden's official Twitter account "@sweden" at the time, posted pictures of her own hirsute pits and ensured the matter was certainly not a passing fad.

And people listened.

"It's about time we do something about these restricting ideals even if it means we have to enforce laws to do it. People are too brainwashed to think for themselves and teens are easily coerced into shaving. If it can prevent just one of them from falling for peer pressure, it's a victory," she told The Local.

"Soon enough the Swedes will come around and new norms will be formed and shaving will be seen as old-fasioned and outdated. It's a revolution!"

According to KBV's Hårfager, the inquiry will review international research into the dangers of underage shaving and body hair removal, both from a physical and mental health perspective.

"These products contain a lot of harmful chemicals that can cause lasting damage to the body. Not to mention the danger of putting what amounts to a deadly weapon in the hands of children," she said.

"It's also imperative that we help young people understand that shaving is a choice they should make as adults, and not a behaviour they should feel forced into as young children by current societal norms."

While Hårfager hopes the new law will be in place by the end of 2012, not all are pleased with planned ban on shaving products.

Hans Bergquist, a 16-year-old student from suburban Stockholm, shaves his face daily.

But according to the planned legislation, he will not be able to purchase razors or shaving cream for another two years.

"I'm gobsmacked. I'd have a proper Viking beard in two minutes if I didn't shave regularly. They'll tease me at school if I come unshaven. And dad won't let me borrow his anymore, I blunt his razors," he told The Local.

"I'll have to import from Norway," he said.

Meanwhile, Hårfager believes only time will tell whether young Swedes will see the light and embrace the idea and ditch the "Hollywood ideals" forced upon Swedish society.

"People need to understand that this is Sweden, we are democratic, and we have the right to be hairy," she said.

"How long will it take everybody to figure this out?"

April Fools' Day update

It's midday in Sweden and custom dictates that we now reveal our chicanery, skulduggery and general tomfoolery.

As many readers no doubt have guessed, the above article has very little basis in fact bar a couple of notable exceptions:

Sweden is a democracy and women are permitted to grow under their arms.

Sweden has a tradition of freedom of speech and some people have recently used it to argue that female bodily hair, is, well, unfeminine.

The Vikings were Danish.

Comments have now been reactivated. A word of caution - after midday the joke's on you.

The Local/og

twitter.com/thelocalsweden

Your comments about this article

10:44 April 1, 2012 by eurobloke
Good joke, but this partly true here in the UK as you can't buy razor blades in the shops if you are under eighteen.
13:08 April 1, 2012 by calebian22
April Fools, hopefully. Then again Sweden is the ultimate nanny state.
13:22 April 1, 2012 by byke
While there was no doubt it was an April fools joke, it was A little too close to the truth.
16:15 April 1, 2012 by StockholmSam
"The Vikings were Danish."

I hope you don't mean to imply that all vikings were Danish?? There were certainly Norwegian and Swedish vikings as well. In fact, a few historians (though not the majority) credit Swedish vikings with establishing Russia.
16:29 April 1, 2012 by willowsdad
If serious, would this mean that males under 18 would also be prohibited from shaving?
17:22 April 1, 2012 by eurobloke
@willowsdad

They would have to do like what happens with alcohol here, ask their parents/friend to buy or use fake ID etc.
19:10 April 1, 2012 by WikidEva
April, April, jag kan lura dig vart jag vill!
19:31 April 1, 2012 by J Jack
Armpit hair is natural, so is sweat, dandruff, blood, snot, pee, soxygen, saliva and poo. That doesn't mean we want it on our body.
19:56 April 1, 2012 by Svensksmith
What is soxygen? Is that the odor that wafts from my socks when my feet sweat? If so, I sure don't want that on my body!
21:19 April 1, 2012 by Radhus
"Svenska Kroppsbildsverket (Swedish Agency for Self Esteem and Body Health - KBV)"

I'm surprised this is not a real agency with so many ridiculous other ones.
22:12 April 1, 2012 by JohnnyAppleseed
People, what are we doing wasting time talking about body hair when there are so many real problems in the world? If someone wants to shave their body or not it's their choice and no one else's business.
23:46 April 1, 2012 by JoeSwede
April Fools.... funny. This article was too close to the truth. I've been forced to accepts beauracratic weird logic too many times.
01:02 April 2, 2012 by cantfry55
Okay, you got me. :)
08:24 April 2, 2012 by Frobobbles
The Vikings were not danish. They were norse. When we talk about norse we do not make a distinction between norwegians, danes, sve, rus etc.
08:29 April 2, 2012 by jomamas
What if you are 'anti hair' ?
12:11 April 2, 2012 by cogito
This satire was so close to the truth that I was April Fooled through the first half.
12:30 April 2, 2012 by Jes
A small joke from a small mind ?
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