Our guest blogger Priya Shah is sharing some of her personal reflections on body hair. Priya is a Chicago-based freelance copywriter and serial blogger armed with a journalism degree, creativity, and a killer voice. She’s also a world-traveler, has lived abroad, and loves exploring other cultures.
My relationship with body hair has been an interesting one.
I walked into a nail salon, before my high school graduation, to get my eyebrows waxed for the first time after a co-worker made comments about my thick brows. At the age of 19, I waxed my arms a few days before a date with a boy I wanted to impress. In my early 20s, I went through several painful laser hair removal treatments on my chinny-chin-chin (only for the hairs to grow back after some time). This was all done because of the judgment of others, the fear of judgment by others or self-judgment.
When the hairs on my chin grew back, I went back to my old methods of hair removal, pre-laser. It was frustrating, but eventually, I had a huge realization. I was trying to fix what I perceived as flaws thanks to external influences. In reality, I just had to love myself.
I didn’t need lasers or wax; I needed self-compassion. The girl who went through several painful, expensive laser hair removal treatments was insecure and felt like something was wrong with her. Now the girl who notices the hairs growing back is strong and confident. Yes, I still take the time to remove the hairs. But I am much more secure in who I am and if I skip a day or two, who cares? I needed to go through the process of trying to fix something to realize that it wasn’t broken.
It’s no secret the stigma of female body hair is still very strong in the world we live in today. Last year Swedish model, Arvida Byström, did an Adidas campaign, showcasing her unshaved legs. While there were many people who were empowered by her, there was also a lot of negative comments. She even received rape threats.
Society’s norm on female body hair is so strong that most women don’t question it, and often act as the body police when it comes to enforcing cultural norms. There’s a scene in Sex and the City: The Movie where Samantha shames Miranda for her bikini line hair growth being noticeable while she’s in a bathing suit. This is an example of the standards we’re expected fulfill as women.
While what we do with our body hair is our choice, grooming/shaving/waxing can feel like a requirement - and really, it’s not.
Hair Removal - It’s Your Choice
Have you ever thought about the time you could’ve saved by not shaving your legs or grooming/maintaining any of your body hair? According to a British survey, women spend 72 days of their lifetime shaving their legs. It’s a serious investment of time and effort.
Of course, every woman has different body hair experiences. Some have fairly unnoticeable body hair and rarely shave, while others have thick, dark body hair and feel the need to shave more often. Some only shave when they go on vacation and others shave daily. There’s no right or wrong, but when we think about the root of why we’re taking the extra time to maintain or remove our body hair, it can be transformative to your relationship with your body.
Are you shaving because of what others will think? Are you shaving because it makes you feel more confident? Or is it a combination of both?
Personally, I like the feeling of having hairless skin and it makes me feel my best. However, I don’t always have time for it. Hair removal is a very time-consuming (and sometimes painful) task that can feel like a chore. When I have the time to shave, great. But it’s not a big deal when I can’t get to it, especially when I have more important tasks to attend to other than the stubble on my legs.
As women living in the 21st century, we have the option to groom, shave, and pluck our body hair. We also have the option to wear it au naturale.
Kim Kardashian lasered her full body and is proud not to have a single hair on her body (Hey! It works for some!). Whereas other celebrities such as Miley Cyrus are flaunting their body hair. Some are even dyeing their underarm hair, such as Cyrus and Lady Gaga, making brightly colored armpits a fashion trend.
Today there are way more women out there embracing their body hair and not shaving their pits, legs, and other body areas. Just go to Instagram to view the beautiful pictures of @bodyhairmovement and @veryhairyfaery as an example.
So pluck, shave, wax if it makes you feel confident. But if you don’t have time for it or don’t want to, don’t stress. You do not owe anyone any version of you. The only opinion that matters is yours.
As India.Arie sings in her classic song, Video, “Sometimes I shave my legs and sometimes I don’t. It really just depends on whatever feels good in my soul.”