It’s been a little while since Christina’s Questionhair blog, so I think it’s safe for me to breach the topic again. I have been engaged in my own body hair experiment for quite some time now. It’s been a journey of personal growth, as it were, and I’d like to share some of the results.
It’s strange to think that in an age when introspection and self-awareness are so heavily encouraged, and our bodies are the focus of so much obsession, most women have no idea what their own body hair would look like, if they were to just let it be for any significant length of time. From an early age we are pressured by peers, parents, and the fearsome, implicit forces of social disapproval to get rid of any visible hair, by whatever means possible, however painful, time-consuming and costly this may be.
Personally, I was an early bloomer – I started my periods when I was 10, and upon starting secondary school, was about a foot taller than most of the other girls, and at least 4 feet taller than most of the boys (or so it seemed at the time). All this made the already-shy me excruciatingly self-conscious. I remember sitting in the changing room after an early year 7 P.E. lesson, and a friend suggesting that I probably should shave my legs, because people were looking, and y’know, they had some hair on them, which must not be allowed to see the light of day under any circumstances. I went home and told my mum, who handed me her electric shaver. I don’t remember her being particularly emotional in either direction on this occasion, it was just matter-of-fact: this is what we do, and this is how we do it.
I recall another occasion when I realised TOO LATE that I’d forgotten to shave my underarms the morning before a school swimming lesson, and the whole affair was an agony of anxiety that somebody would notice, should I put my hand up to answer a question, but if I didn’t put my hand up, I would more likely be picked out to answer, and thus be the centre of attention. (If there are any teachers reading who still use that trick: you are a dick. Stoppit.)
Why does our society put girls through this unnecessary anguish? Adolescence is shitty enough as it is. (Mainly because it’s spent surrounded by adolescents. If there are any reading this, you are probably a dick too. Sorry. You’ll agree with me someday.)
Reasons I decided to experiment with Not Shaving:
- It’s a pain in the arse to do.
- It’s unfair that our supposedly liberated generation is MORE expected to do this stuff than ever before, simply because of somebody’s made-up ideals of femininity and beauty and such.
- There is a whole industry built around this, which makes a mint out of women’s bodily insecurities, which is Not Okay in my book, and I want to tell them, in a practical, demonstrative sort of way, that they can fuck right off.
- The more women that are brave enough to be pioneers of hairy freedom, the more people get used to the idea, and the less scary it becomes, thus, hopefully, contributing to genuine choice about what we do with our bodies, rather than this sneaky, manipulative coercion we’re living with now.
And on to the Results of my Experimenting:
Here is a Mal’s-eye-view of what over 6 months of lady leg hair looks like:
I’m okay with it. I don’t get my legs out very often, (partly because it’s too bloody cold most of the time), but every now and then I do, and though I may still feel a little self conscious about it, generally people don’t notice, or are too polite to mention anything. It’s quite nice, really. Soft. Vastly preferable to scratchy stubble. Every now and then I shave, just on a whim, to start the process afresh, but this has become more and more infrequent. I’m sort of proud of my leg hair. Like the delicious strawberries in my garden, it feels like an achievement to have grown something.
And while I’m mildly proud of my leg hair, I can honestly state that I’m really quite fond of my underarm hair. So much so that I only ever trim, never remove it entirely any more. I ask you, if kittens are allowed to be appealing because they’re fluffy, why not armpits? (Armpittens? Armpets?)
- I also quite like the little line that grows from my bellybutton downwards. S’kinda cute.
- The inner-thigh area is really quite ambiguous, with the darkness and density of hair. This leads me to question, who drew the bikini line? How did they manage to get it so wrong? And why are they allowed to keep on invading further inwards, (I have the title sequence of Dad’s Army in mind), until some people feel it necessary to conceal all evidence that they ever underwent puberty? And to continue down this tangent, in what sort of confused and broken world is this childification of women’s bodies considered sexy?
- The only areas of my (external) body I can be sure have absolutely no hair on them are the soles of my feet and palms of my hands. Everywhere else is pretty much up for forestation, to a delightfully varietous array of degrees. The body is a beautiful landscape. (I say this to reassure any of you who may have found hair somewhere and wondered if they’re hideously, deformedly different from everyone else ever: you’re probably not.)
- I still fail to be comfortable with facial hair, and can be found fairly regularly neatening my messy eyebrows or removing anomalous chin hairs with tweezers. Perhaps I will tackle this insecurity too, one day. One step at a time.
In conclusion, dear reader, I encourage all of you who have ever nurtured a curiosity, a desire to investigate the limits of your hirsuteness, to be bold and do so. You’ve got nothing to lose, and a whole joyful world of armpit pets and lady landscape gardening potentially awaits you.
And if you’re really just not into it, fair enough, but please have the courtesy to be supportive of the rest of us.
Alice is a student of cultural studies, a blogger, an aspiring maker of stuff (including, but not limited to, music, films & cake) and an all round Very Nice Person. She has a rainbow hat (and quite possibly a rainbow jumper) that I am fond of.