This year for winter I decided to stop removing my body hair. This is a statement I feel very apprehensive making and a blog I feel somewhat nervous posting but I am adamant I am going to soldier on because I can’t possibly be the only person who feels the way I do about this.
Initially it was an experiment. Having conformed to societal norms and shaved my legs and armpits from about the age of 13, I had no idea what was going to grow out. It turned out to be not that much, in fact there seems to be almost no hair on the backs of my legs, but enough for me to feel squeamish about letting said hair out in public. I expected to be somewhat repulsed by my body hair because I have been conditioned my whole life to believe it was disgusting. However, I found it didn’t really bother me and my husband seemed to rather like it.
Last week it briefly got warmer and I started to think about wearing dresses again… ones without sleeves and tights and suddenly my love affair with my hairy legs and pits ended. I thought about the attention a luxuriant underarm bush might draw and as much as I wanted to tell society to fuck off… I shaved my armpits. I also paid a small, but efficient Asian lady to rip the hair out of my legs using hot wax.
Afterwards I felt defeated and a bit naked but also more comfortable with the idea of my legs and armpits being out in public. I guess I’m just not ready to be a hairy woman yet.
Now I know I do and have done several things to my body that are not natural. I wear make-up, I paint my nails, I dye my hair, I have tattoos and piercings. But unlike body hair I feel like these things are my choice. I could choose not to wear any make-up and to let my hair grow out medium boring brown and although I would feel less like me and less attractive, these would be considered valid choices. No one would stare if I didn’t put any mascara on. I don’t feel like choosing to let my body hair grow free is a choice that will currently be accepted by society as valid. It’s not my choice but rather something I am forced to do.
The normalisation of women removing their body hair has become so prevalent that even when we watch TV or films set in a time where no one was removing any hair, we see women with perfectly smooth legs and hairless armpits. Trust me… in the 1700’s they all had pit forests.
I am not disputing anyone’s personal choice to remove their body hair or make any cosmetic choice for themselves. What seems unfair is that it’s not a choice. You either get rid of it or face the fact that you are making a political statement, which is a lot of pressure just to put on your pits.
Maybe next winter I will be brave enough to stay the distance but for now I’m learning to live with my nude underarms and my cowardice. I know there are people who will read this blog and be horrified that I did not immediately remove all hair the minute it appeared and I am steeling myself for a potential onslaught of eew comments but if no one ever says anything how will we ever know how many of us feel like this?