St. Patrick’s Day Isn’t Just an Excuse to Drink

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Why is St. Patrick’s Day such a huge celebration? Why do we even bother celebrating it at all? It isn’t a national holiday, the U.S. doesn’t have enough of a Catholic population to make the religious aspect of the day that important, so why do we look forward to St. Patrick’s Day once March starts? Simple: it’s about celebrating our roots.

According to Catholic Online, St. Patrick was born in Scotland around 385 to Roman citizens. As a teenager he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave. He remained there until he was around twenty years old. During his time in pagan Ireland, St. Patrick’s Christian faith grew stronger. After receiving a message from God in a dream telling him to leave Ireland, St. Patrick made his way back to Britain and his family.

After joining the priesthood, St. Patrick eventually rose to the level of bishop and was given the task of spreading Christianity throughout Ireland. He arrived in Slane, Ireland on March 25, 433. St. Patrick quickly began converting the Irish and setting up churches all across the nation over the next 40 years. He is said to have died on March 17, 461. He was eventually canonized as the patron saint of Ireland.

For those who don’t know, being the patron saint of a country makes that saint the guardian of the nation. That saint is the first person people pray to in times of trouble. Ireland has several patron saints, but St. Patrick is by far the most well-known. So how does Ireland celebrate their most famous protector?

St. Patrick’s Day was once a solemn time throughout all of Ireland, although that is beginning to change. History.com states that it wasn’t until the 1970s that pubs even stayed open on the holiday. The website Ireland for Visitors explains that Irish tradition is to go to mass to celebrate St. Patrick, perhaps stop and get a pint or two, and then sit down for a special family meal. Rather than the corned beef and cabbage that Americans demand every March 17, the Irish serve “succulent, pink bacon or a savory roast chicken.”

Since the mid-1990s Ireland has started to have larger St. Patrick’s Day celebrations like those of their American cousins. Many large cities now have parades as well as cultural performances and activities during the week of St. Patrick’s Day.

While St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland has typically been treated like any other saint’s feast day, it has always been a different story across the pond. March 17 quickly became a day to celebrate Irish culture in the United States. In her International Business Times article “St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2014: Top 10 Largest Parades; Schedules And Route Maps For New York, Boston, Chicago And More,” Nadine DeNinno states that the current population of Americans with Irish heritage, more the 30 million, is “seven times the population of Ireland itself.”

Those numbers don’t really matter since, as the saying goes, everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. It does explain the popularity of the holiday from America’s beginning though. St. Patrick’s Day parades have existed since Irish settlers first appeared in the 16th century.

While DeNinno does mention that St. Patrick’s Day has earned the title “drunkest holiday” after New Year’s Eve in the States (did you know that St. Patrick brought distillation to Ireland?), it isn’t just an excuse to drink. After generations of Irish immigrants making their mark in American society, St. Patrick’s Day is a day to celebrate the culture that so many Americans call their own.

Not sure how to celebrate the Irish culture this St. Patrick’s Day? Here’s some festive food and drinks to serve this Tuesday.


Robinson, Diana. 2014 St. Patrick’s Day Parade, NYC. 17 Mar. 2014. Online image. Flickr. 11 Mar. 2015. https://flic.kr/p/mbxscn
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Enjoy the Sunshine: Daylight Savings Time Is This Sunday

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We’ve all heard the saying: Spring Forward and Fall Back. Move the clocks one hour ahead in spring, move the clocks one hour back in the fall. I’m sorry to say it, but Daylight Savings Time is this Sunday, March 8th. At 2:00 a.m. on Sunday your clocks will spring forward one hour to 3:00 a.m. Luckily most cell phones automatically change for you, but that doesn’t change the fact that Daylight Savings Time is quite possibly the most annoying “holiday” on the calendar. So why do we even bother with it?

Contrary to popular belief, Daylight Savings Time isn’t mandatory. Not every country country participates. According to WorldTimeZone.com, most of Asia, Africa, South America, and parts of Australia does not change their clocks throughout the year. Interestingly enough, not every state in the U.S. follows the Spring Forward, Fall Back guideline either. Both Arizona and Hawaii have opted out of the rule.

So why do these places choose to have Daylight Savings Time?

DST has only been used for roughly the past 100 years, but people have been changing their daily schedules around the sun for centuries. Without electricity, ancient civilizations needed to maximize their time in the sun in order to complete their regular work. TimeandDate.com explains that “Roman water clocks used different scales for different months of the year.”

Although it had been suggested throughout the centuries, DST became widely accepted during WWI. With so many countries using as many resources as they could spare, changing the clocks to allow more sunlight, and therefore cutting the amount of resources citizens used for artificial lighting, seemed like the perfect solution during The War to End All Wars. TimeandDate.com states that Germany was the first to utilize DST on April 30, 1916. The rest of Europe quickly followed and the United States finally joined in 1918.

DST has come and gone in the U.S. since WWI. Some states used it, some states didn’t, some major cities followed it, some didn’t. It actually affected travel and nationwide businesses because there was no real set time for the entire country.

After a few decades of watching this “do whatever you want” attitude towards time cause major problems, the United States passed the Uniform Time Act of 1966. TimeandDate.com explains that the Act declared DST was from the last Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October and gave states the ability to opt out of the time changes. According to Glenn Coin’s article “Daylight Saving Time: When do you change your clocks this spring?” for Syracuse.com, several changes have been made to DST since 1966, the last one being in 2007 moving DST to the second Sunday in March and ending on the first Sunday in November.

Coin states that DST doesn’t really help save energy like many proponents claim. Moving our clocks around an hour “only cuts electrical use by 0.5 percent — if that.” There have been studies supporting this claim, one in Australia in 2000 and the other in Indiana in 2008. For my fellow Hoosiers out there, the Indiana study “showed little change in energy use when parts of the state went to daylight savings time,” so don’t feel too bad that you don’t capitalize on that extra hour of sunlight.

Whether you like the idea of Daylight Savings Time or not, it’s here to stay. If you’re worried about being late for work or school, use your cell phone as an alarm clock if you don’t already. Like I said, cell phones automatically switch to DST so you don’t have to worry about programming it like some of your other electronics. I’m sorry that we’ll all be essentially losing an hour this summer, but let’s hope that the extra sunlight means less of the awful freezing temperatures and several feet of snow the nation has been suffering through.


becosky…. TIME. 23 Jan. 2008. Online image. Flickr. 2 Mar. 2015. https://flic.kr/p/632Ye5

Emma Watson Celebrates International Women’s Day with Fans

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Emma Watson, the actress best known for portraying heroine Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series, has been making a name for herself as a social activist. She has quickly become the Global Goodwill Ambassador of the UN Women‘s HeForShe campaign, a new gender equality movement that calls for men to become supportive of their female coworkers, colleagues, classmates, friends, etc. as a way to improve the quality of life for everyone.

Obviously International Women’s Day, which is this Sunday, March 8th, is going to be important for the Ambassador. Watson posted a Facebook video Monday sharing her plans for the big day: she’s going to be hosting a conversation in London at 5 p.m. local time about HeForShe and gender equality.

In the video Watson explains how her amazing opportunity is also great for her fans and followers of HeForShe as well.

I am going to be conducting a live Q&A in London answering questions about gender equality. I’m also hoping that you would like to be a member of the audience. If you would like to be a member of the audience there is a form on my Facebook page which you can fill out telling me how you are advancing gender equality, or telling me about how gender inequality has affected your life, or you can send me some questions.

If you’re going to be in London and would like to be in the audience, simply fill out this form by 12 p.m. London time on Wednesday, March 4th. Can’t make it to England in time to see the Q&A in person? Facebook is going to be streaming the event live on Sunday, so check out the Facebook event for more information. For my fellow Americans, keep in mind that the event takes place at 1 p.m. EST so you don’t miss it!

What’s a question you have for Emma Watson about gender equality? Are you going to try and join the audience? Let us know!


Bond, Marco. Emma Watson. 15 Jun. 2014. Online image. Flickr. 3 Mar. 2015. https://flic.kr/p/nZ6Ffi

Apologies and Promises: A Brief History Behind New Year’s Resolutions

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It wasn’t too long ago that people were making promises to themselves about how they would be better in the new year. I saw plenty of social media updates about “2015: The Year of Me.” People listed all the ways they would change for the better after they cured their New Year’s Eve hangover. I also saw plenty of people making jokes about New Year’s Resolutions as well, and it isn’t hard to see why.

In her Huffington Post article “New Year Resolutions You’re Most Likely To Break,” Corrie Pikul states that “about 40 percent of us will resolve to change our lives in some way in the new year.” According to Siobhan Norton’s The Independent article “Why we make (and break) our New Year’s resolutions – and how to stick to them,” majority of people give up their resolutions by January 23rd, which means most of my social media friends have already failed in their quest for making 2015 all about a better self.

So why do we bother making New Year’s Resolutions year after year? The truth is this tradition has been around for so long it isn’t going to vanish any time soon. According to Norton, ancient Romans, Babylonians and other civilizations began the New Year by atoning to their gods for wrongdoings and promised to live better lives this time around.

Ancient Romans in particular paid special attention to the god Janus during this time. Janus was associated with, among other things, new beginnings. He is portrayed with two faces, one looking to the future and one looking to the past, making him the perfect deity to send both apologies and promises.

Over time Janus, as well as his fellow Roman gods, fell out of favor to other religions. However, the fear of new beginnings as well as the past still plagued humanity. So the tradition of looking back on our failures and promising to change them in the future carries on to the present day. So for those who mock this ancient tradition, why not give it a try? It clearly isn’t going anywhere.

Think it’s too late to start a New Year’s Resolution? Think again. Plenty of people stumble throughout the year before reaching their goal. The important this is that you try.


Internet Archive Book Images. Image from page 180 of “Manual of mythology : Greek and Roman, Norse, and old German, Hindoo and Egyptian mythology” (1875). 29 Jul. 2014. Online image. Flickr. 29 Jan. 2015. https://flic.kr/p/oeSsJW

3 Ways to Make MLK Day Mean Something

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Martin Luther King Day is next week, which means many people will be off from work and school on Monday, January 19th. While many people see this as a 4-day weekend, and therefore an excuse to stay out late or sleep in for one more day, MLK Day is so much more than that.

While I’ve heard people question why MLK day isn’t in February, which is Black History Month, MLK Day is celebrated on the 3rd Monday in January. This date roughly coincides with King’s January 15th birthday.

The holiday is fairly new and has an interesting path to becoming recognized by the US government. People began campaigning for a national holiday remembering King after his death in 1968. Over the years people, organizations, and even celebrities began to support the idea until it was signed into law in 1983. Interestingly enough, the first Martin Luther King Day was in 1986, but it was not observed in all 50 states until 2000.

MLK Day is more than just remembering the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, though. One of King’s most repeated quotes on this holiday is, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?'” As a civil rights activist, King constantly worked to improve the lives of all Americans. Why not use that as inspiration to help out those around you?

MLK Day is part of President Obama’s United We Serve plan that began in 2009. The idea is that by taking the time to volunteer and make a difference in the community, the community will begin to improve. Not sure where or how you can help? Here’s 3 places you can look to volunteer this Monday. Please note that you should always call ahead about volunteering instead of simply showing up to any location.

1. Food banks

Food banks are a great place to volunteer because you can not only help out a great cause, but you can also go with friends or the entire family and work together. Check out places like the Feeding America website to find a food bank near you.

2. Homeless shelters

Like food banks, homeless shelters are always in need of extra hands to help. If you aren’t sure where your nearest homeless shelter is, you can search on websites like Volunteers of America.

3. Check online

Do you have a special skill or passion that you want to utilize this Monday? Perfect! There’s plenty of positions all over America that require specific training or abilities from their volunteers. Websites like Volunteer Match allow people to enter their location and then provides a list of topics they can browse to find the perfect volunteer position for them.

MLK Day is more than just remembering the life of an inspiring civil rights advocate. This Monday is also about giving back to your community and helping those in need. As I’ve said before, please call ahead and state your interest in volunteering before you go in on January 19th. Trust me, I’ve worked at places that take volunteers regularly. Calling ahead means you can make the most of your volunteer time.

It doesn’t matter how long you can donate your time, as long as you make the effort to help your community. If you can’t get off work this Monday but still want to make a difference, perhaps make an effort within your own life to help those around you. Call a friend you don’t see too often, make a special dinner for your family, anything to make someone’s day a little brighter.


The U.S. National Archives. Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. [Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking.], 08/28/1963. 28 Aug. 1963. Online image. Flickr. 14 Jan. 2014. https://flic.kr/p/8LTnQf

No Shave November: The History of Facial Hair Removal

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It’s the last Wednesday in November, which means it’s time for the last installment in our history of shaving series in honor of No-Shave November. We’ve talked about the regular shaving topics: legs, underarms, and, of course, the bikini area. Now it’s time for facial hair removal.

As you’ve read in earlier articles, removing body hair is not a new thing for women. The ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians all had their own tools and body hair preferences. Taylor Barringer writes in her Elle.com article “History of hair Removal,” that one of the first trendsetters of removing facial hair in the Western World was Queen Elizabeth I.

While Elizabeth and her followers removed the hair from their faces, their body hair remained untouched. Barringer explained that since large foreheads were in during Elizabeth’s reign, “the fashion of this era was to remove eyebrows and hair from the forehead…which women did by using walnut oil, or bandages soaked in amonia [sic] (which they got from their feline pets) and vinegar.” That’s right, English women were soaking bandages in cat urine and then applying it to their faces to remove unwanted hair.

Note: While I doubt you’ll harm yourself if you apply cat urine to your skin, please don’t try this beauty trick at home. It just seems really unsanitary.

In her Chicago Tribune article “Shaving and fashion: A storied history,” Lauren R. Harrison explains that our modern obsession with body hair removal might have some more recent roots. While there were some women removing body hair in the 19th century, it didn’t gain the popularity it had under Elizabeth I’s rule until Gillette invented the first women’s razor in 1915. Harrison quotes Russell B. Adams Jr., author of “King C. Gillette: The Man and His Wonderful Shaving Device,” that Gillette’s Milady Decollete was “the first razor designed and marketed specifically for women.”

Razors weren’t the only option for women looking to remove body hair. The early 20th century saw plenty of ads, just like the ones for the Milady Decollete, for depilatory creams that could help women with their body image woes. Barringer writes that “in 1907 an ad for X-Bazin Depilatory Powder began circulating, promising to remove ‘humiliating growth of hair on the face, neck, and arms.'”

For those of you wondering why neck hair was an issue to women of the 1900s, take a look at your own neck in the mirror. The hair line is most likely irregular. With all the glamorous up do’s of this decade, trimming and shaving these hairs into a uniform shape was the only option.

By the 1920s and 30s, short hair was the new trend. Instead of having your neck exposed with pinned up hair, the Flapper Girl of that era had hair that barely passed her ears. The trend remains today. Ask any girl with a pixie cut and they’ll tell you that their stylist takes a razor to their neck with every trim.

Barringer states that by the 1950s hair removal became more widely accepted. Rather than completely removing their eyebrows like they did during Elizabeth I’s time, women began using tweezers “to groom and shape their eyebrows.”

Now there are dozens of options for women to remove unwanted hair from their face and neck. They range from at home options like tweezers and shaving to luxurious spa offerings at waxing bars and eyebrow threading studios. There really is no limit to how women can alter their natural body hair.

There’s only 4 days left in November, so hopefully you’ve taken part in No-Shave November by educating yourself on men’s health issues as well as raising awareness by putting down that razor and letting your body hair grow. For those of you who did take part in the no-shaving fun, how did it go? What body part did you not shave? How long did you participate? Share your stories in the comments below or on social media!


Brown, Ian. Eyebrow Work. 22 Apr. 2012. Online image. Flickr. 26 Nov. 2014. https://flic.kr/p/bASVFU

No Shave November: The History of the Bikini Wax

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Every Wednesday for No-Shave November we’ve been looking into why women shave various body parts. So far we’ve talked about leg and underarm shaving, but this week we’re talking about the “down there” hair.

Removing pubic hair has gained popularity in recent decades, but just like all other forms of body hair removal, it isn’t new. According to Taylor Barringer’s Elle.com article “History of Hair Removal,” ancient Greeks and Romans considered all body hair, including pubic hair, to be uncivilized and therefore undesirable for the upper classes. This is why “many famous statues and paintings of Grecian women are depicted hairless.”

While many consider alteration of pubic hair in any way to be sexual, even scandalous, Women You Should Know points out in their article “Pit Stop: A Quick History Of Women & Shaving” that shaving “naughty bits” has more modest roots. For centuries Muslim women in the Middle East and North Africa have been going completely hairless as part of their wedding preparation. Interestingly enough, these women “frequently…stick with the aesthetic after marriage – and some men do likewise.”

Pubic hair wasn’t something Western women really thought about until, once again, fashion brought it to their attention. This time it was the bikini that prompted women to begin removing hair from an area they used to ignore. While the scandalous swimsuit was first debuted in Europe in 1946, History.com states that “in prudish America, the bikini was successfully resisted until the early 1960s, when a new emphasis on youthful liberation brought the swimsuit en masse to U.S. beaches.”

Barringer states that by the 1970s there was “a resurgence in the removal of bikini area hair as the swimsuit fad of the 1960s stuck around.” Lauren R. Harrison explains the continued interest to pubic hair in her article “Shaving and fashion: A storied history.” According to Harrison, “‘going bald below’ gained more steam as bikinis became teeny-weeny.”

As long as fashion trends, especially swimsuits styles, remain sexy and edgy, it looks like the bikini wax is here to stay. However, so many styles in fashion means that women today have more options in how they groom themselves. You can go natural, trimmed, completely bare, or be playful and get a little design or shape “down there.” No matter what you chose, make sure it’s something you feel comfortable with. It’s your body, your hair, and no one’s choice but your own.

That being said, if you want to participate in No-Shave November without having to show the world hairy body parts, I would suggest skipping on the bikini wax this week. Out of all the places you shave, that’s probably the least noticeable to the general public. Showing body hair can be intimidating to some women, so test the waters with something easy to hide before diving in head first.

Wondering why we remove hair from other body parts? Check out the reasons we found behind removing facial hair.


Florida Memory. Melody May modeling a bikini on the beach: Panama City, Florida. 1966. Online image. Flickr. 19 Nov. 2014. https://flic.kr/p/f3e43P

No Shave November: The History of Underarm Shaving

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Last Wednesday we talked about the history of leg shaving for No-Shave November. This week we’re moving a little farther up on the body to learn why we shave our underarms.

In her Elle.com article “History of Hair Removal,” Taylor Barringer states that removing hair goes back to the Roman Empire. During this era “the lack of body hair was considered a sign of the classes.” Barringer explains that, much like today, “wealthy women and men used razors made from flints, tweezers, creams, and stones to remove excess hair.”

How did this ancient obsession with bare skin become a cultural norm in modern times? More importantly, why did society decide to remove hair from a part of the body that is basically hidden under another body part?

The answer, just like with leg shaving, is fashion.

The 20th century brought about a lot of change in women’s fashion. In their article “Pit Stop: A Quick History Of Women & Shaving,” female-centric blog Women You Should Know explains that no one ever paid any attention to underarms until around 1915. In fact, WYSK states that “even the word ‘underarm’ was considered scandalous, what with it being so near certain other interesting body parts.” Perhaps that’s why the sleeveless dress was invented in the first place.

Sleeveless garments quickly became a major fashion trend despite revealing some, apparently, sexual parts of a woman’s body. WYSK explains that “an ad in the fashion mag Harper’s Bazaar decreed that to wear it (and certainly to wear it while participating in “Modern Dancing”), women would need to first see to ‘the removal of objectionable hair.'” Lauren R. Harrison notes in her Chicago Tribune article “Shaving and fashion: A storied history,” that the 20th century saw “sheerer fabrics became fashionable and hemlines rose” to reveal even more skin.

Women quickly embraced Harper’s Bazaar‘s advice, most likely because of how easy it had become for women to remove “objectionable hair.” Barringer notes that in 1915 Gillette debuted the Milady Decolletée, the world’s first women’s razor. Despite this revolution, hair removal creams were still a major industry as “the early 1900’s also saw ads for depilatory cream hit the masses.”

Sheer fabrics and sleeveless garments stayed in style for years, and their hair removal techniques did not waver throughout the years. By the 1920s “a leading women’s fashion magazine ran an ad featuring a woman with her arms raised and her armpits bare,” thus solidifying these trends as lasting fashions rather than passing fads.

By the 1950s bare underarms were the norm in America. Hair removal creams were still too harsh to be completely comfortable for the masses, so razors were the number one choice for body hair. This all changed when wax strips were introduced in the 1960s. Today there are many more options. Traditional razors are still popular as well as waxing and hair removal creams for sensitive skin, but laser hair removal has come farther than any other method. While it was too unreliable when first used in the 1960s, today it is the favored hair removal method of women all over America.

Despite remaining a cultural norm, not shaving underarm hair is also a major trend for women in the United States. Harrison explains that since shaving is seen as a feminine act, since the 1970s accepting women’s body hair, including underarm hair, has become the “litmus test of feminism,” as well as other things.

Whether you shave your underarms to follow cultural norms or because you simply enjoy smooth skin, consider taking a break during No-Shave November just to see if the grass is greener on the other side. And for those of you who don’t shave, be it for feminism or to protest a culture that does not accept nature or a natural state of being, keep the spirit of No-Shave November alive and wait to see how the other side lives until December.

Wondering why we remove hair from other body parts? Check out the reasons we found behind altering body hair on the bikini area as well as removing facial hair.


istolethetv. confident. 24 Jun. 2007. Online image. Flickr. 12 Nov. 2014. https://flic.kr/p/YbHMk

No Shave November: The History of Leg Shaving

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For those of you who don’t know, No-Shave November is a unique way to raise awareness for cancer and men’s health issues overall. Many cancer patients lose their hair, so the goal is to educate men about their health while having everyone appreciate the hair their bodies can still grow. While many assume No-Shave November is a male only event, all genders can participate in the festivities.

In honor of No-Shave November, we’re going to look at the history of shaving various body parts. This week we’re focusing on leg shaving.

Hair removal is not new trend. According to Taylor Barringer’s Elle.com article “History of Hair Removal,” wealthier citizens of the Roman Empire, both men and women, would remove body hair with “razors made from flints, tweezers, creams, and stones.” In her Chicago Tribune article “Shaving and fashion: A storied history,” Lauren R. Harrison notes that Egyptians also “used beeswax and depilatories made from an alkali, like quicklime, to remove leg hair.”

In the United States leg shaving didn’t really take off until after World War One. In the Women You Should Know article “Pit Stop: A Quick History Of Women & Shaving,” the female-centric website reveals that fashion had a major influence on the American hair removal movement. While the Roaring 20s saw a rise in hemlines, it was nothing compared to the 1940s. This decade “brought even shorter skirts, sheerer stockings, and the rise of leggy pin-ups such as Betty Grable,” all of which influenced American women to remove “objectionable hair.”

Barringer also points to the 1940s as an important time in leg shaving history. The first electric razor specifically designed for women was released in 1940, making shaving easier for more and more women. World War Two also had a major impact on women’s fashion. While many every day items were suddenly rationed for the war, it was the nylon shortage that helped the hair removal industry most. With pantyhose almost impossible to buy, “more products and techniques for hair removal hit the market as women were forced to go bare legged more often.”

By the 1950s shaved legs were the norm. Since depilatory creams were too harsh and irritated the skin, many women opted for razors to keep their legs bare and smooth. However, that changed during the 1960s after wax strips were invented and “quickly became the method of choice for removing unwanted hair under the arms and on legs.” The first laser hair removal method also became available in the 60s, but didn’t gain the same popularity as waxing due to negative affects on the skin.

Not much has changed in the hair removal industry since then. Laser hair removal has become safer and more reliable, yet many still rely on the favorites of previous decades like razors and waxing. While many wish to return the cultural norm to embrace natural leg hair, we only need to look at history to see the outcome. Much like the 1920s and 1940s, our high hemlines, from mini skirts to tiny shorts, will keep leg shaving in the cultural norm for decades.

That being said, fall is the perfect time to embrace your natural body hair. The cool weather will keep everyone in pants or tights for weeks to come, so what do you have to lose? Join No-Shave November and learn some health tips that could save you or a loved one’s life. And for those of you who refuse to put down the razor because your partner will make negative comments about a some extra hairs, do you really want to be with someone who is against raising cancer awareness?

Wondering why we remove hair from other body parts? Check out the reasons we found behind altering body hair on underarms and bikini area as well as removing facial hair.


lil’_wiz. HFTM Cycle 1 – Theme 9 – “Everyday Modeling” – Betty. 4 Apr. 2013. Online image. Flickr. 5 nov. 2014. https://flic.kr/p/e8Mh5J

The History of the Haunted House

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Two days until Halloween means two days left to go see a haunted house. For many Americans, visiting a haunted attraction is a Halloween tradition, just like decorating a tree for Christmas or an egg hunt on Easter. How did this simple activity become such a seasonal staple though? Where did the idea of being scared for fun in a horrifying setting come from?

The haunted house actually has its roots in Ancient Greece. To explain the mysterious and unknown world they lived in, ancient Greeks created gods who controlled everything. To explain these gods they put on plays to tell their stories. According to Adam Warner in his NBC article “The History of Haunted Houses: How Fears Have Fueled an Industry,” these plays contained “theatrical techniques still used in today’s haunts, like fog, fake blood and trapdoors.” A fascination with demons and evil continued into the Middle Ages, when traveling actors went from city to city performing plays to scare people from the evils of sin.

The first true haunted house as we know it today opened in 1915 by Orton & Spooner, two British men known for creating fairground rides. Warner states that the original haunted house was “a dimly lit funhouse, where floors shook and demonic screams roared from phonographs.” Although the exterior, a typical English looking home with skeletons hanging from the windows, looks tame by today’s standards, it’s easy to imagine how it scared guests who had never experienced anything like it before.

The love of terror continued with the rise and fall of the freak shows and circus acts that inspired this season of American Horror Story. Interestingly enough, Walt Disney also played a part in shaping the haunted houses we love and fear today. Warner says it was Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion that had a major influence on haunted attractions across the country. With its use of modern technology and traditional scare tactics, the Haunted Mansion continues to inspire those just getting into the industry. And yes, it is an industry.

According to Martha C. White in her NBC article “It’s aliiiive! Haunted-house industry scares up big money,” in 2013 haunted houses netted $300 million. Warner includes haunted houses along with hayrides and mazes to give the industry a total of $1 billion in annual revenue. There is both The Haunted Attraction Association and the Haunted House Association for those in the industry to come together and share ideas and information.

With so much time and effort these people put into creating the perfectly frightening experience, why not make a last minute trip to a haunted house? I’m sure it will be terribly fun.


Bench, Evan. Mysterious House. 24 Aug. 2013. Online image. Flickr. 29 Oct. 2014. https://flic.kr/p/fWvxQf