body image / May 2015: Women's Bodies / sisterhood

The Hairy Truth

Certain portions of the memory are very clear, and yet others are very faint. I remember how old I was, roughly – definitely in middle school, at the height of my awkward phase (and at the dawn of my rapid growth spurt). I’d heard the messages about how my body was going to to change and how it was going to develop. Until that point, I had never felt self-conscious about the way I looked as I went through the world – until that moment.

I don’t remember his name, but I certainly remember the location. We were sitting on the risers in between songs, waiting for our music teacher to tell us when it was time to sing again. I was wearing shorts, seemingly oblivious, until this kid turned around and noticed my legs.

“You’re hairy,” he said, giving my legs a pointed look – the legs that had never been near a razor. The hair on my legs then were soft, untouched and unbroken, so blonde as to almost be invisible. That was the first time I started thinking about shaving my legs. Not just my legs though, but my body hair altogether. It took me a long time to come round to the idea that my body hair wasn’t something to be ashamed of; not something I had to wax, shave and pluck until there was nothing left to scrutinize.

I suffered through the agony of my first Brazilian wax to try and make myself feel beautiful for a visiting boyfriend, only to suffer the pain again as my abused and tender skin healed itself. After that I swore I would never do it again. I think that was the breaking point; my brain finally snapped back against the nagging voice of my adolescence and said enough is enough.

These days, I typically go several weeks without shaving my legs and in the winter I shave even less. I pluck my eyebrows minimally, only doing the necessary maintenance so to keep some semblance of shape. Last week, I was in the shower when I realised that I couldn’t actually recall the last time I shaved my armpits. I was struck by how soft the hair was and how it didn’t seem all that strange that I had allowed it to grow longer for a change.

I look at photos on the internet of women who have stopped shaving their armpits altogether and I wonder what it would be like to just allow my hair to grow freely again. I wonder what it would be like not to worry about my body hair and what other people think of it.

When I don’t shave, my legs are smoother. I sweat less when I don’t shave as well. My pubic hair protects me from bacteria and infection… down there. There are so many benefits to not shaving and I wonder whether they will ever outweigh my own hesitation and fears about external judgement.

I’m slowly coming round to the idea and I’m taking baby steps in what is hopefully the right direction. Our body hair is there for a reason, so why do we undergo such pains to get rid of it? I hope one day it’ll be a fad that we’ve gotten past, and hopefully there will no longer be a stigma around women who are proud of their hair. One day soon, I hope I’ll be one of them women.

Carly Lane
Carly Lane is a New York City-based writer specializing in obscure pop culture references and miscellaneous geekery. Her writing has appeared on HelloGiggles, Obvi We’re the Ladies, Femsplain, xoJane and more. You can follow her on Twitter at @equivocarly.

One thought on “The Hairy Truth

  1. Pingback: Am I A Bad Feminist - By Catstello

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