Home » Culture Shock » In Which I Have a Rant about Body Hair

In Which I Have a Rant about Body Hair

I examined whether or not I wanted to write extremely personal things on this blog, considering it’s hooked up to my Facebook and people of all backgrounds in my life read it.  And after a lot of worry, low-level panic, constant thrumming concern, and two glasses of wine, I decided (to put it philosophically): “fuck it”. I’ve seen some of the horrific things people have used for statuses on Facebook, and besides that, I tend to believe that the act of writing shouldn’t be comfortable or cozy – that if you want to say something, you need to worry about saying it.  Consequently, if I’m writing about subjects that some in my “real world” bubble might find uncomfortable, I’ll simply put a warning in front of the entry and if they choose to continue, their horror, disgust, or moral outrage is entirely on them.

Consequently, here is your warning: this entry is about women and body hair. If you don’t want to deal with it, don’t keep reading.

Are you still with me?  Are the hatches battened?  Okay.  Here we go:

I am hairy despite my best efforts.

You see, I’m pale as a lit light bulb and I have black hair that brooches no arguments about its right to be here.  The battle with my body hair has been the bane of my existence since late elementary school, and I occasionally get shit about it today from well-meaning friends and strangers.

Let’s get this out of the way:

  • Nair is toxic sludge and it doesn’t work.
  • I am not shaving my arms. Ever.
  • If I were rich, I’d consider electrolysis, but I am not rich, and that’s a shit-ton of money for something that only lasts a few years, tops.

And I’m sitting here going “oh my god, I can’t POSSIBLY put this on my blog”, because it’s embarrassing, and underneath the layer of embarrassment, I also feel shame.  Shame that I feel embarrassed about something that I spend SO MUCH GODDAMN TIME obsessing about.  Shame that I quibble over publicly MENTIONING that this is something that I work to get rid of.  Shame that someone might KNOW that I am not naturally bald everywhere but my eyebrow arches and my skull.

And that is such bullshit, so I’m posting this anyway.

Modern society has decided that women, in order to actually be womanly, have to abide by certain physical rules, and if they don’t naturally follow these rules, then by God, get on it! Lose ten pounds (at least)! Tan that skin!  Put color in those cheeks, divide and conquer those breasts (and if you don’t have them, get them), and above all, make your skin as smooth and plucked as a chicken ready for roasting!

Let’s be clear, here – although I consider myself a feminist, I love my girl stuff.  My lipstick collection has arm-wrestled with Roy G Biv and come out on top. I have more perfumes than I will ever need. I maintain my eyebrows with a geometric precision.  And that is all fun for me.  Yes, it’s probably societal brainwashing blah blah blah but I don’t care. It’s in my comfort zone. If it’s not in another female’s comfort zone, cool, whatever.  I don’t judge that.

But shaving?  That is not fun. That will never be fun. I do it out of social obligation and literally nothing more. Now, I’ve met some women who coo over shaving and say that they like the way it feels, that they think that a hairy gam is gross and not-clean, and that they simply can’t imagine why anyone would think otherwise. I smile and nod and say I respect their choice and then decide that they’re batshit fucking insane.  I mean, I still respect their choice, but how can anyone like shaving? Really, actively think it’s not seriously ridiculous?

Because it is ridiculous.  Maybe other women have downy little chick fluff that falls off with a sigh at the merest hint of a razor, but when I go shower, it’s like ‘Nam.  I have to have a battle strategy: fresh razor every week, shaving cream, going at different angles so I won’t get the dreaded Red Bumps, and then a special moisturizer.  And that is every day, kids.  I have girl friends that shave once a week and you could never tell, their legs as smooth as a Barbie’s.  Me?  Even when I do it every day, my skin is so pale that you can still see the hair UNDER the skin if you look closely enough.

And as much as it bugs me now, HOLY GOD did it bug me in middle school. I remember actually throwing up with anxiety because a girl in my class told me that maybe I should think about shaving my arms as well.  Naturally, she was a blonde with the aforementioned down-fluff for fuzz, and in retrospect I should’ve called her society’s baldest sheep, but I was a self-esteem wasteland at that point. The thought that I had to do this shit for more than just my legs blew my mind.  And this isn’t even getting into the controversial topic of “personal grooming”, which I’ll likely talk about after more than just two glasses of wine (sorry kids.  you’re welcome kids).  I’ll save that for later.

Bottom line is – the sheer about of hair-removal that woman are not just obligated to do, but expected to do to maintain the lowest level of social acceptance is just butt-clenchingly godawful.  I don’t know why I do it.  I don’t do it that much at the moment because it’s winter and goddammit, I’M TIRED OF IT, but come summer I will purchase my various products and put on my warpaint and go at it.  Because as non-judgmental as I tend to be about other people’s decisions, I fold like the most-delicate of flowers when someone comments on my legs or hairy arms.  I will certainly cry about it later.  I would love to be a vivacious feminist with no-fucks-to-give who goes out in public with hairy legs and even (gasp!) underarm hair, but I’ve heard what people say about those women. I don’t want to be talked about like that.  Maybe when I’m slightly older or more eccentric. Instead, I tow the line while secretly admiring those women.

And I write things like this.

Do I regret it already?

Yes.  Yes, of course.

Oh thank Christ, there’s more wine.


15 thoughts on “In Which I Have a Rant about Body Hair

  1. oh girl, i am so with you here. my hair is THICK and dark and it drives me nuts, but i cannot find it in myself to not give a fuck about it. i give too many fucks about my hairy arms. 😦

  2. Word. It is obscene how much I worry about my body hair. Why can’t I worry about important things instead? Are we really that brainwashed? It’s disturbing and annoying and whenever I get some dude who wants to talk to me about it, it takes all my willpower not to just start screaming. Face shaving IS NOT COMPARABLE.

  3. Oh god, yes yes and yes yes yes. I may joke around with my girlfriends about how I don’t give a fuck and will laugh with them about my gorilla legs, but then I’ll give up on opportunities to swim while on vacation because it takes hours to get ready for it and I’ll cry if I’m forced into a dress with exposed legs before I’m able to make them look decently ‘presentable’ and then my PCOS has blessed me with facial hair that no one has made a freaking home remedy for and RARELY anyone talks about as acceptable so I’m stuck desperately trying to shave it and not really knowing how because no one taught that technique and yeah.

    Have any wine to share?

    • Right there with you on the “takes hours to get ready” bullshit. Like, I respect that it may not be Drama for some ladies, but it is definitely an undertaking for me! I’m having trouble now at our temporary home because we run out of hot water after 5 minutes, and so my options are a) go hairy or b) shave in ice-cold water. You can guess where I turn.

      I’m sorry about whatever bullshit you’ve had to put up with. It’s such a self-perpetuating cycle. :/

      Sending chardonnay your way!

  4. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a well written rant about the burdens of shaving – or being a brunette. Since I’m a ginger kid (read: genetically modified blonde) and a dude, I never think of this sort of thing. Sounds horrible.

  5. Maybe I’m like a male minority, and maybe it’s my adopted Viking heritage (without knowing my full family tree, I just assume that’s why I like Norse history and everything to do with it and damn anyone who says otherwise), but I actually like some hair on a woman. It makes them, to me, less ‘plastic’ and I think it just adds to their sexiness. Don’t wanna shave your legs for awhile? Go for it. Don’t want to shave your arms? Don’t.

    Then again, I pluck my eyebrows, nosehairs, and earhairs when I find strays, so maybe I don’t have room to talk.

    • I don’t think there’s anything wrong with grooming or not grooming, provided that one likes doing it. I like doing my eyebrows; I find it soothing. But legs? UGHHHHHH.

      So you get a thumbs up for your go-with-the-flow perspective.

  6. The first part of your post where you state… “I tend to believe that the act of writing shouldn’t be comfortable or cozy – that if you want to say something, you need to worry about saying it.”… Is interesting. I’ve recently started writing, and I worry…never about what strangers will think, but more worried about what family might think if they ever read my posts. I admire your courage.

    • Thank you so much! I’m trying to learn how to be courageous – it doesn’t come naturally. The urge to hit the backspace when I’m being truly honest is sometimes overwhelming! I always worry about what my mother will think about my writing, but so far, I’m still on the family tree! 🙂

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