So a while ago I asked a question on Instagram. I was wondering if people shaved or not, and why they did or didn’t do it, also any other thoughts were welcome.
I’m overall just a really nosy person, always really curious about other peoples opinions about stuff like this, and about their experiences and so fort. Luckily a lot of people answered! So today I just wanted to write something about the whole thing.
To shave or not to shave
If and why I shave or not has been a topic for me for a while now. When I started doing more reading on feminism, the hair thing came up pretty quickly. It’s kind of a stereotype right of feminism right? The woman in the overalls with her fist in the air, showing off her hairy pits.
I’ve been shaving since I was about 13/14 I guess; armpits, legs and pubes. Always feeling a little disgusted, ashamed and unsexy/unwomanly whenever I didn’t shave. I didn’t so much mind shaving my pits, since it took me like 2 seconds in the shower, and since I don’t really have a sensitive skin it wasn’t really a problem.
The pubes a little more so.. I’d shave it all off, but those shavingbumps, eek! I did it though, because I felt unsanitary and unsexy otherwise. Feeling like I had to in order to be feminine and sexy for whoever would be seeing me in the nude (Flight of the Conchords, anyone?).
Then the legs.. I am SO happy that I’ve only shaved my upper legs like, twice. The hairs are fairly soft and light (except for some really weird black, long ones that pop up randomly.. what’s the deal with you guys..?)(also, let’s note here, that I am happy the hairs on my leg are soft and light, god forbid if they were dark and stubbly.. ‘cause again; that’ not womanly right?).
The hairs on my lower legs are probably the biggest issue for me in this hairy dilemma. I’ve always found it SUCH a hassle to shave. It takes up a lot of time, I always cut myself (which at least in the past could sometimes be triggering for me) and then it’s nice and smooth for 2 days after which it feels like you’ve traded in your legs for a doormat, pricklyyyy.. until you shave again, which will then take up lots of time etc..VICIOUS CIRCLE.
So, when I started reading more about feminism, thinking about it more often and more deeply, I also started thinking about my shaving habits. Why am I shaving exactly?
Why do women need to shave? Why is it seen as unfeminine and less hygienic to have hair? But why do men have hair as well and why do we never hear about that? Why are there thousands of commercials about women shaving (never seeing any real hair btw.. they’re already all smooth and soft, yes really) but none about men? (Only about facial hair, but those are mostly about style). Why do I feel less sexy if I have hair? Why do I feel like I need to apologize to my partner when I don’t shave?
After all this thinking I was feeling this angry “if the patriarchy doesn’t want me to shave IT CAN EAT MY HAIRY PITS” vibe. Maybe that’s my Aries moon being a bitch screaming “stop telling me what to do.” But whatever it was, it was there, and it was probably even my main reason for starting to grow my hair at that point.
And so I started experimenting with my body hair. I let my leg hair grow. I let my pubes grow into a full bush. One of my besties Sophie did an experiment where she would let her armpit hair grow for a month, and after a while I joined in that as well. I talked about it a lot with my partner at the time, he would sometimes make comments about it (how stubbly my legs would feel etc) and I would react kind of catty most of the times, feeling like he actually just didn’t like it and wanted me to start shaving again. He always replied that he liked it better without hair, but that I should do whatever I wanted to do. Which would then result in me feeling insecure, and becoming more and more recalcitrant (If you’re telling me to shave I will most definitely NOT SHAVE), etc.
What it did for me
So it started out as a big fuck you to the patriarchy, but along the way it all became a little more nuanced. The questions I had didn’t quite get their answers, but giving more thought to these choices, being able to feel out what it meant for me to be hairy as a woman.. these things have definitely opened up my mind and my way of thinking. I love seeing how there are actually more and more questions popping up. As with everything there are so many nuances and layers.
It has been so interesting, being outside in a dress with hairy legs (and with hairy I do mean ‘dark 1-2cm long hairs-hairy’), going climbing in a top with my hairy pits out.. even going on dates, everything was an opportunity for me to put out my feelers and check in with my thoughts.
Why am I worried about what people will think? What is it that I think they’ll think? Does this mean this is actually my own opinion? Where do these thoughts come from originally and do I agree with them? What does it do to me if I see somebody notice my armpit hair? My leg hair?
Side note: I saw a great meme that said something in the like of “whenever I go out on a date I make sure my pit hair is out, to weed out the assholes.” Which I am SO gonna do on every date from now on (where before I would just try to hide them).
Besides all these questions, the not shaving has been a really good experience. Even though my arm pits aren’t that sensitive, I sometimes got weird painful red spots, and they haven’t been back since I stopped shaving. I never have cuts on my legs anymore, and I’m not ‘wasting’ time on trying to get my legs into a unnatural soft state*. Also I actually really love the look of my armpit hair and my bush. And feeling beautiful by being me without changing something to cater to general beauty ideals/opinions about women’s bodies, is making me feel powerful and confident.
I also think it’s a good thing to (constantly) question thoughts about bodies and the way they should look (I think it’s a good think to constantly question anything though), because most of those thoughts do come from the way the world wants us to be. The way we think others (mostly men) want us to be. The way the media depicts women.
And all these things are great to make money from.
*I’ve written wasting like that, because for me it feels like wasting my time. I’m not saying it’s a general waste of time.
Also, the unnatural soft state might seem like a bitchy thing to say, but I mean it as a fact. I mean these hairs grow there, so having them is a natural thing. I am not saying that everything natural is good and everything unnatural is bad.
Why do you shave?
So a lot of women that did shave replied to my instagram question with things like; I like the soft feeling, it’s more hygienic, I do it to feel more feminine, I like the way it looks, things like this.
And while I want to make sure that I am 100% for everybody making their own choice; these things are also the reasons I had before I stopped shaving. And I asked myself the question: is this really what I think, or is this what I’m thinking because I grew up in a society where this is the norm?
Why do you feel more feminine if you shave? Because somebody once decided women need to be soft and silky? Because all the women you have ever seen on tv and in magazines look like this?
Why do you think it’s more hygienic? Men have pubes, armpit hair and leg hair too.. are they all gross? (Answer is yes of course but that’s besides this point)(JUST KIDDING HA HA) When did you first get this persuasion?
Why do you like the way it looks better? Because of what you think is the ‘norm’ because of movies and series and magazines and porn?
It feels like such a silly thing to be writing so many words on.. body hair.. but the weird thing is: it is a political thing. Body hair on people (all people except men) is political. And again, what you do with your body is your choice and yours alone, I would just be so curious to see what would happen if we all gave some serious thought to these things, or maybe if we all tried not-shaving to see what would happen.
Ps. I mean, sorry about the title, but.. you folx now me by now right? I needed to do this.
Love this topic and discussion! And totally agree, this is political. I use to not shave. Cut a little down there (ya know, so not too much is popping out of my bathing suit). Yet I do feel uncomfortable showing my hairy legs to others. Ashamed almost. Rationally I know there should be no need, but still..
Pleasssse do write more about these kind of topics Anne fleur !