Why rocking your body hair is empowering as f*ck!
Long ago, when I was but a curious little bean sprout just beginning to weave my path into this world, I found myself wondering about something no one ever seemed to talk about. So I asked my mother: why do boys have armpit hair and girls don’t? Well, she said, girls do have hair, but they have to shave it off. “Why?” I responded, “Doesn’t that take so much time?” Her final reply: “Maybe, but that’s just the way it’s gotta be”.
Here I am now, many years later, to question that answer, and invite you to do the same.
The first time I ever shaved my legs, I remember feeling super grown up, like “a real woman”. All of my friends were doing it, and even though my hair was very light and barely visible, I felt I had to as well. Especially my armpits. Armpit hair is gross! Right!? Unless it’s on men. Then, it’s okay. For a long time, I blindly accepted this norm that society had imposed upon me. I mean, how many 13-year-olds are really going around questioning unfair gender expectations that enforce the binary system we live in?
I never looked forward to shaving. It was an activity I personally found to be time consuming, and pretty. Dang. Annoying. I mean, really, how important is it for me to shave my body hair? Everyone knows that women have it naturally too, so how controversial would it really be if people saw what they knew was already there?
I stopped shaving the day I realized I could. At first, I feared what my peers would think. Would they call me a “crazy feminist” (a term I’ve now learned to welcome with great enthusiasm), a “hairy b*tch”, a “nasty lack of hygiene”? Well, good news: people are much nicer than you might think! Although some of my friends did mention they would never be able to go out like I did, they all respected my choice. Some even told me they admired how little I cared about what others might say. In no time, I learned to embrace what I have and love the body I was gifted with. I – LOVE – my hairy pits, and I’m not afraid to tell you that.
Our world is full of social norms that we, women and men, are expected to comply with. When everywhere you go all you see are legs as smooth as silk, it’s easy to accept these conventions without dispute. Now, I’m not telling you to stop shaving because I do. I’m just enticing you to do whatever makes you comfortable. If shaving from head to toe is what works for you, then that’s super! If not, that’s great too. Both can be equally empowering.
What’s important here is to challenge everything that you do, every action that you take. Are you doing it for yourself? Or for others? Are you doing it because you enjoy it? Or to conform? Remember – the choice is all yours.
Originally published in Bandersnatch Vol. 47 Issue 11 on March 28, 2018