by thethreepennyguignol

Hello! Let’s talk about body hair.

I stopped shaving my body hair about two years ago, and I realized recently that I haven’t ever written anything about the experience. Which is silly, in a way, because it’s just…letting hair grow, it shouldn’t be enough of a statement that I could write a whole article about it, should it?

But, genuinely, quitting shaving has changed my relationship with my body more than I thought it would, and it’s brought to light some interesting aspects of femininity and womanhood that I didn’t see before. So, let’s run a comb through our thigh hair, and talk about it.

The first time I remember feeling self-conscious about my body hair was at eleven, sitting in a gym class with some other girls who were discussing the ways they removed their leg hair; I can still remember, vividly, staring at the downy, fluffy hair that had just begun to come in on my thighs, and praying they didn’t see it catch the light. By the end of that week, I had pinched some disposable razors from my mum, and removed as much of it as I could.

For the next fifteen years, it became so normal I never stopped to think about genuinely insane it was for me to be doing this. I pretty much shaved, plucked, and waxed every bit of body hair below my neck, roaming my body with a pair of tweezers like a hunter stalking an innocent deer through the forest, ready to snatch off any errant stray that might dare show it’s spindly little head. I felt grotty and gross when I didn’t, picking at my stubbly skin when I didn’t have a chance to shave and wondering how long I would have to wait before I could scrub it off again. The thought of letting someone touch me without making sure my skin was prominently hairless genuinely made me a bit sick.

I made the decision to stop shaving a couple of years ago, deciding it was about time I lived up to the killjoy hairy-legged feminist stereotype. And what I discovered was that…actually, I don’t care as much as I thought?

I had imagined stopping shaving would be a big deal for me. I hated being seen or touched when I hadn’t shaved, and the thought of it made me viscerally uncomfortable. But the reality of it? Really not that bad at all. Like, at all.

There were a few times, in the first few months, when I would see my body hair in the mirror and grimace, but it honestly didn’t take long for it to just feel normal. It was inaction, after all, a choice I wasn’t making rather than a choice I was. Shaving had always felt like such a default to me that the thought of stopping it seemed like an impossibly huge statement, but the way it felt normal in a matter of weeks felt like a miracle. I wasn’t wasting time scrubbing off every hair that sprang up. My body was just…doing it’s thing, covering itself with hair, getting on with it. I got used to feeling attractive with body hair, to seeing it as part of my body as opposed to some foul growth that needed to be snatched off before anyone else could see it. And it didn’t matter.

No, that’s not true. It didn’t matter to me. But it seemed to matter to some other people. To be quite honest, most of the world does not give a singular flying fuck about what you do with your body hair, but for some people, rejecting that particular standard of seal-skinned femininity is insulting, for reasons beyond my understanding. I was accused of both hating men and wanting to be a man, a delightfully bizarre dichotomy – either I was denying men my womanhood, or forsaking it myself to become a man. Which is profoundly odd to me, because this is my body, my woman’s body, in it’s most natural state. How is it that letting a woman’s body just exist as it is can somehow be framed as un-womanly?

But anyway. Aside from those people, realizing it didn’t matter has opened up a whole new relationship to my body. It made me start to re-evaluate what else I was doing as a matter of course that I actually didn’t need or want to; what were the arbitrary rules I’d applied to myself that I didn’t gain anything from following? It’s a question that I’ve allowed to spread out into other parts of my life, and, as a result, I genuinely feel more comfortable in my natural body – dressing for comfort, focusing on what made my body actually feel good as opposed to what made it look “right” for a woman. Embracing my body for what it actually is, as opposed to what I feel like it needs to look like for me to pass as the kind of woman I want to be.

This article isn’t meant to be instructive – people, especially women, have their own relationships with their bodies and their body hair, and I’m not trying to bang my drum to get them to let it grow out. But I would encourage anyone who does remove body hair to consider the reasons they’re doing it, and whether it’s actually benefitting them in the ways they want it to.

My leg hair is ladylike, because I am a lady, and I like it. And, for me, that’s all there is to it.

If you enjoyed this article and want to see more stuff like it, check out my other blog, No But Listenas well as my fiction work! You can also support me on Patreon to help keep this blog running and keep my very demanding little cat in treaties, and me out of her clutches for another month yet.