Shaving is such a normalized thing in Western culture and it’s deeply tied up with shame. As women, we’re taught to be ashamed of our bodies—we’re taught to compare our bodies to others. It runs deep, and you learn it at such an early age that sometimes it feels impossible to shake. I realized I had been seeing my body through the lens of what other people deemed attractive, particularly men. When I first took the plunge and decided to stop shaving, my biggest fear was that men would no longer find me attractive and that the sight of my body hair would repulse them or scare them away. This thought process is harmful. It teaches us to place value on ourselves, our bodies, and our worth based on how we fit into the male gaze. From experience, none of my partners have ever had a problem with my body hair; if anything, it’s been a good way to “weed out” people who are not worth my time. Anyone who doesn’t accept your body—and the way you choose to present your body—is not someone you want to be with.
As body hair becomes more common, due to the fact that women have more control over their own image on social media, it also gets warped by media and billed as a trend. In a way, this initially feels fine, because I see choosing to have body hair as akin to choosing to paint your nails or sport a certain haircut—but oftentimes, the media is only showing you consumable or palatable depictions of body hair. We’re only seeing small amounts of armpit hair, maybe a little bit of blonde leg hair. There’s no discussion of the back hair, pubic hair, hair on our faces, stomach hair, or nipple hair that so many of us grow. For example, I stopped shaving my legs and armpits when I was 19, but continued to shave the hair on my stomach and bleach my upper lip hair up until a year or two ago. There was still hair on my body that even I was ashamed of. So while armpit hair is an edgy, cool look to rock, we still feel obligated to shave our bikini areas knowing very well that no one’s pubic hair fits nicely into their underwear. Everyone’s bodies are different and everyone grows hair differently—but only certain bodies are promoted, while the rest of the population is left to wonder why their hair isn’t as “cute” as that.
You are not a failure. Body hair doesn’t make you any less feminine or any less attractive. Choosing to shave doesn’t mean that you’re insecure. The strongest statement you can make is to take control of your body and present yourself in whatever way that makes you feel comfortable. Shave one leg and don’t shave the other, shave sometimes, never shave…it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you feel good about you. That’s the boldest and bravest thing you can do.