Thursday, July 18, 2024
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No Shame In My Body Hair Game

To shave or not to shave—it’s nobody’s business but your own

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So I was reading an article about Fifty Shades of Grey the other day. This is a habit I try to avoid, given that I find contemplating the existence of the book-turned-movie franchise far more painful than any of the acts described within…but hey, click bait wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t so darn effective, right?

Anyway, according to this article, the movie has generated some controversy because, based on about three seconds of PG-13 footage, it appears that Anastasia Steele has a healthy crop of “hair down there”.

This actually seemed a little encouraging. If a piece of offensive, poorly written pulp like Fifty Shades of Grey was willing to portray its protagonist as unapologetically rocking the hair that Mother Nature gave her, maybe we’d reached some sort of progressive turning point as a society.

This positive buzz lasted for a solid three seconds, before I accidentally scrolled down a little bit too far and found myself reading the ever-so-insightful commentary of the fine men and women of the comments section.

Cynicism restored.

There is a real insanity around body hair removal. The fact that tiny wisps of hair on a woman’s body inspire such extreme reactions is kind of ridiculous.

We are inundated by body hair removal products telling us that smooth, silky hair-free skin is the feminine ideal—that we are perfect beautiful special flowery butterflies if the only visible hair is on our heads. And if we fail to adhere to this ideal? Well according to Veet, a big player in the hair-removal market, we’re totally risking looking like dudes.

In a controversial 2014 ad campaign, Veet enthusiastically trumpeted the slogan “Don’t Risk Dudeness” warning women that failing to cleanse your legs of those evil little hairs will make you look like a man. The campaign was eventually pulled after multiple complaints but honestly, it’s not that far off the message has been beaten into women’s psyches since we were old enough to understand words.

Yes, Veet was a far blunter than the usual soft, pink, goddess-floating-on-a-cloud bullshit that we usually get from these ads, but the concept was nothing new.

I was an early bloomer. I got my period at age nine, and it really fucking sucked. Body hair was not far behind the blood. All I wanted to do was hold dances for my dolls to the sweet sounds of En Vogue, and here comes my mom with some pink razors, talking about how shaving was now something that I HAD to do. Believe me, I fought this. I lied to my mom. I told her my armpit hair wasn’t long, I stalled, and I protested, but inevitably I had to shave. I asked why I had to do it, but the only response I got was that it was something I was supposed to do. Like my period, it was something I would just have to deal with.

So I did it, and I hated it, not only because it was yanking me out my childhood before I was ready, but because it was just plain annoying. I had things to do dammit, and this was just taking up my time.

Let me be very clear, I don’t fault my mom for this. My mom is a certified badass who taught me to have an attitude, to stand up for myself, and to never take any shit from the world. The shaving thing just came from indoctrination quite frankly. To her, shaving was simply something women were supposed to do. Body hair was embarrassing. This message is something that was taught to her, handed down from the generation before along with her delicious shepherd’s pie recipe. It’s obviously not just my mom either—this shame is a particularly malignant disease that has infected our society to the core.

I’m stubborn though, and now that I’m older, I only shave if I really want to, which is hardly ever. I wish I could say I was making some grand statement, but truthfully, it’s just a big hassle. I believe in feeling comfortable whenever possible, which is why I don’t do many things that have been advertised as ‘feminine’. I only shave if my body hair is bothering me, because as I said, being comfortable is key for me.

That said, I want to make it clear that I don’t believe in trying to shame women who do shave, because that’s just as bad as shaming women who don’t. If what you are doing is for your personal happiness and comfort and not to meet insane social standards, it’s all good. Hair is hair. Letting it grow doesn’t mean you are somehow abandoning your gender. Shaving it off doesn’t mean your symbolically shearing your independence.

So if you see my ‘horrifying’ hair, and you feel the need to be judgmental and laugh, take deep breath, pull out your phone, and head on over to—because you really need to get to work finding some business of your own.


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