The Vagenda

Hair! (Not the Musical)

I stopped shaving. Legs, pits, bits – I ceased cultivation and let them revert to a state of nature. I watched as a forest sprang up, thick and threatening, warning all travellers who wouldst venture therein – Here There Be Witches. I imaginatively called my experiment in body hair ‘the experiment,’ and planned to remain in my new wild-woman incarnation for a year to see what I could learn about, well, having body hair. Now, a year and a half has waned unwaxed, and yet the underarm kittens remain. The official reason for this is that I’m still learning stuff about having body hair, and the unofficial reason is that, to my own sincere surprise, I actually really like it.

I stopped shaving because there’s way too much pressure on people to conform to stupid arbitrary gendered bullshit. It had gotten to the point where, rather than just evoking mild theoretical disapproval, that pressure had begun to piss me off on a day to day basis. And body hair became a symbol of it. I read about salons waxing 11 and 12 year old girls in the belief that ripping out their ‘virgin hair’ would lead to the requisite smooth legs and bikini lines of female adulthood. All around me, friends were spending hefty chunks of their hard-earned wages on fanny waxes and laser hair removal and trying to convince me to do the same. I just thought – fuck this. I asked myself why I’d begun to shave in the first place and why I continued to do so.

I had some kind of half-formed idea that I chose to shave. But when I started to sound out that idea logically, it rang hollow. If shaving was a choice, how come I didn’t know a single post-pubescent female who didn’t conform to it? How come I had never seen a woman’s hairy leg on TV in any context other than as a hilariousjoke? How come every time female body hair was even mentioned by anyone I knew, it was accompanied by ‘eeewww,’ ‘gross’ and other such Americanised expressions of hip disapproval? It isn’t a choice. When you’re 13 and ripping your wee ankles to shreds with an inexpertly wielded ladyblade, no one says: ‘You don’t have to do that – you can choose to shave or you can choose not to.’ In fact, if I remember rightly, the advice that my own adoréd Mammy gave me was: ‘put off shaving for as long as possible, because when you start doing it, you’ve to keep doing it.’ (Little did she know that she’d breed a feminist beastie.)

Women weren’t expected to shave when my mother was growing up in rural Hibernia in the 60s. Her generation started making the choice to do so, just like we’re making the choice to have Brazillians and sun-beds and boob jobs. What if for our children these things aren’t choices?

But enough proselytising. I do hereby jump down off the soap box, and will spend the rest of this article answering, in an approximate order of the frequency they are asked, the questions people commonly proffer when they see my prodigious manes of untamed womanhood.

Q1. Don’t men find you physically repulsive and refuse to engage in sexual and/or romantic relations with you?At first this was a problem. But then I starved myself to a skeletal size, had lumps of silicon surgically implanted into my chest and permanently tattooed black lines around my eyes, so now I am able to attract some, some, less shallow men, who will consent to use me as a receptacle for their lust in darkened rooms whilst wearing gloves to protect their hands from the sickening sensation of touching my unshaven skin.Thems just jokes. The man I was going out with when the experiment began was a little apprehensive when I unveiled my innovative grooming plans, but when I actually grew the hair out he was really proud of me. One evening, friends of ours asked him a variation of Q1 above, and he said ‘if I was a girl, I wouldn’t shave mylegs.’ Because he is awesome. Then, in a completely un-hair-related twist, we broke up. Which was sad. So I did what single girls in London do, and had ALL the boyfriends. None of them minded (some of them liked it). And then one of the boyfriends turned out to be completely amazing so I made him the only boyfriend. He is also proud of me. In my experience, men like women who challenge social norms and ask them to do the same. But then, I have pretty excellent taste in men (*smug*).

Q2. Don’t you smell like poo now. Like smelly smelly poo?I smell exactly the same as I did before. Which is bit like soap after showering, and a bit like Christmas cake first thing in the morning.

Q3. Aren’t your friends embarrassed to be seen in public with you and your pit-pubes? Do you have to sit alone in your room staring at your furry man-calves feeling righteous, yes, but also sad and lonely?People can surprise you with their open-mindedness, and sometimes, unfortunately, with their lack thereof. One good friend is a mum of two (including my bright button of a god-babby), an über-femme hairdresser, and a beauty who is always immaculately groomed – gel nail things, eyebrows of Euclidean symmetry and skin permanently a-glitter. When I told her why I’d stopped shaving she said ‘that’s really cool. I think there is too much pressure on women to look a certain way.’ Not the reaction I was expecting. She now calls me ‘the hairy godmother’ and likes pictures of me with my pits out on facebook.Another good friend has a degree in anthropology and art history from an Ivy League university. She’s well-travelled, well-read and cultured. She shrieks ‘ew, keep it away from me’ when she sees my body hair. Again, not what I would have expected.While a few people reacted badly to my whack gender transgression at first, almost everyone is supportive now. The ‘you’re making life a whole lot harder for yourself’ faction have realised that you don’t get exiled from civilized society for having hairy pits and the ‘ew, gross’ faction don’t even seem to notice any more. A few friends have said that, because of me, they get defensive if they hear someone having a go at woolly women. Result. When I think about it, many of my friends had never actually seen a female leg covered in full-grown hair before, so of course there were some less than super-cool reactions. But it’s all gravy under the bridge now.

Q4. Don’t people point and laugh at you in public as if it is the nineteenth century and they have paid a ha’penny to attend a freak-show? Don’t they say ‘Ha ha ha ha. Look at the hairy lady – just like Julia Roberts that time she went mental’?Yes. Sometimes they do. Note to tube users – if you whisper and giggle behind your hand while staring straight at a fellow passenger, she will probably know that you are talking about her. For a hand is not a massive opaque screen. It is a hand. Randomers point and laugh at my hirsute legs and armpits in public sometimes. But the problem isn’t my legs or armpits.

Q5. Do you actually go out in string tops and shorts with the unsightly keratin-based proof that you have gone through puberty on show for all humanity to see?This is a tricky one. Short answer – no. Cause it’s hard, y’know? It’s not so much the pointing and the laughing. It’s the fact that I’ve been socialised since birth to think that my body hair is unclean and unfeminine and, even though I believe in what I’m doing, when I go out in public something else takes over and I think ‘oh my God look at your legs woman, what is wrong with you?’ I AM THE CAGE.But I am getting better at public displays of fuzz. I’m no longer embarrassed by armpits and am thus increasingly happy to soirée without sleeves. I’m working on legs. I’ve gone out with the pins bare a few times, but I still find it quite difficult. It takes time to get comfortable with yourself. There’s a life-time of conditioning to break down, after all.The experiment is about learning stuff and I am still learning. One of the first lessons the hair taught me is that my clothing puts me on display: bare arms and shoulders, fitted busts and waists, and short skirts with sheer tights – even in winter. I seriously re-examined my wardrobe. Not only did most of my habitual attire display a significant amount of skin, but the body parts on show needed to be ‘feminized’ before they were acceptable for display in women’s clothing at all. There’s a critique of the objectification and commercialisation of the female body under capitalism to be made here, probably, but the editors of Vagenda have asked me not to write like a total dryballs, so if you want to hear it, you’ll have to take me for a pint.In short, I have changed the way I dress a little. There are times when it has felt like a bit of a sacrifice – like most people, I want to look attractive. There’s a deadly red dress I love that I haven’t worn since embracing bodily afforestation. But I’ll get there. So if you see a woman with legs like Mrs. Doubtfire strutting down the South Bank in a bright red mini-dress, please refrain from throwing tubes of Veet at her.

Q6. But I have seen you wearing make-up! Are you not a big hairy hypocrite? I like a smidge o’ mascara on a night out, me. I choose to wear make-up. I know this, because I choose not to wear make-up the vast majority of the time. When I leave the house without make-up people don’t point and laugh at me. No-one handed me a Mac lippy the second I hit puberty and told me I had to wear it or everyone would think I was disgusting. I can choose to wear make-up or not wear it. I’m comfortable with that.I’m not waging a war against all things normatively feminine in our society. I like dresses, but I wouldn’t like it if dress-wearing were tacitly compulsory for all vagina-bearers. I would like dresses even better if the men who wanted to wear them could do so in public without fear of ridicule or violence. Fuck body policing! Smash the stupid arbitrary gendered bullshit! Do it wearing whatever the hell you want! Yeah!

Q7. At the swimming pool, do they make you wear a massive swimming cap over your entire body for fear you would contaminate others?I go swimming in the Brixton Rec now and then. I was nervous the first few times, lest other swimmers would try to drown me. This did not happen however. Now the inhabitants of Brixton are used to a hairy woman in a swimsuit. Next stop – St. Tropez.

Q8. Do small children not run when they see you approach, fearing that you will lure them to your gingerbread house only to eat them?A Scene From My LifeSmall child: Why do you have hair under your arms?Me: Because when girls and boys grow up into women and men they grow hair under their armsSmall child: My Mum doesn’t have hair under her arms.Me: She shaves it off.Small child: She doesn’tMe: She does. Ask her.Small child: Mum, do you?Mother of small child: YesSmall child: Why?

Exactly, small child. Exactly.

Q9. If you start shaving again, do you lose feminism?Naw. I’m aiming to have a relationship with shaving like the relationship I have with make-up – where I do it if the whim seizes me, not because I feel I have to.

Q10. I am considering ditching my Gillette Multi-Blade Princess Goddess Sexy Miracle Razor with Aloe Vera and added Moisturizers. What do you say to me?It’s a cool little experiential journey. If you, like I, had never seen your own body hair in full before it can be pretty mind-blowing to look down at your legs or into the mirror at naked you. It’s just really – I don’t know – surprising and sensuous. And a bit trippy: are these my legs? Are these my legs? It itches when it’s growing out. Boo. But then it stops. Yay.Be patient with yourself. It can be a challenge – you’re probably not going to be brave enough to grow out your hair and immediately hit the discotheque in a boob-tube. You will in all likelihood not want to throw your hands up in the air, nor wave ‘em around like you just don’t care. Invest in a few light sleevey things and leggings that you can throw on when you’re not feeling comfortable enough to get yer short and curlies out for the lads. There’ll come a time when you won’t need them.Communicate with the people in your life. If they get a bit aggro with you, ask them to question their own understanding of why women are required to shave and men are not. If nothing else, the answers you get can be good for a laugh (‘Boys are just a bit gross’ and ‘Because women don’t have hair’ are two of my personal favourites).Remember that you are doing the necessary and totes important work of challenging the stupid arbitrary gendered bullshit, and when you get to feminist heaven Judith Butler (who will probably be dead before you) and Simone de Beauvoir will be waiting to receive you with bubbly wine, narcotics of your choice, a corn-fed organic roast chicken, Bikini Kill and the entire cast of Monty Python. You don’t want to miss that party.

- Emer

189 thoughts on “Hair! (Not the Musical)

    • I’m generally not attracted by hirsute women but once, a long time, ago I had a girlfriend who had fine blond body hair that might even have been called fur. I found it very erotic. Just as some women shouldn’t wear hot pants, not all women look good with excess body hair. It’s an anthropological thing. machimon.wordpress.com

    • I love that, Peter! And agree completely now that women are expected to have Brazilians. That makes me so mad I could spit! And do not do it. And pray to god my teen-aged daughter will not ever feel the need or desire to do them.

    • i am from germany, and yeah it WAS different here. my mom never shaved herself (but she is a little bit of an old fashion hippie), but in my generation it is totaly normal to shave. you´re gross.
      i don´t shave all the time, cause i´m kind of lazy. it never was surprising for me to see myself in full hair. but if i go out with shorts i shave. i have black hairs and yes you get reaction of hair here.

  1. I think it’s easier with slightly more ‘hidden’ hair. I’m half sicilian and I have got terrible facial hair. i hate it and although I’m not obsessed by it, I find it humiliating. I have prominent brows (or, shall i say, just one), moustache and hair on my chin. I don’t mind hair on the rest of my body, but on my face i find it so depressing…. :(

    • Hi A.C. – I think this is such an important thing to talk about. You’re right – it’s much easier for me to fight the stupid, arbitrary and humiliating myth that women don’t have hair when I can choose to keep my protest hidden whenever I feel uncomfortable. That said – the pressure on women to remove their facial hair and their body hair is all part of the same thing. It’s body policing; it’s socialising people into believing their bodies are trangressively gendered and abhorrent. You’re humiliated because you’re being told that you’re not feminine unless you bleach and pluck and wax. But how can facial hair be unfeminine when such a huge number of women have it (approx 40% according to a guardian article by Julie Bindel)? It just doesn’t make any sense. The problem isn’t facial hair or body hair – it’s a culture that ridicules women’s faces and bodies, shaming people who are deemed to be a deviation from the every shrinking acceptable ‘norm’. It’s so crap that your facial hair is something that makes you feel depressed, when it should be just another thing that makes you you.

      The photographer Trish Morrissey has done some fantastic exhibitions of women with facial hair (plenty of the pics are available online). She asks friends and acquaintances to stop plucking, shaving etc and photographs them in their normal clothes with their normal amount of make up on. It’s such an eye-opener. Also, if you’re interested, there’s an edited book called ‘The Last Taboo: Woman and Body Hair’ which speaks a lot about women’s facial hair, about the invisibility of it in society today and the visibility of it in the literature of the past. It really made me think – where are all the freakin’ moustaches? Anyhow, it would take a huge amount of bravery to start proudly sporting your facial hair. You’d have to take a lot of shit, and maybe that’s not your battle. But I suppose what I’m saying is that we should be trying to create a world in which people don’t have to feel depressed and humiliated about their natural, unique faces and bodies. It’s not the hair that’s the problem.

    • I agree I am of mixed race, black/white. I have very thick curly hair, i stopped shaving about a year ago and up until a few months back i still was a little uncomfortable with this. But noticing that most do not care and if they do it makes my resolve stronger to stay this way. I also stopped plucking, waxing my lip and eye brows, I do sometimes pluck my eye brows but mostly because they are so patchy that they wont grow through but I still keep them in line with there natural look.

    • You can say that all you like, but when you have more facial hair than your boyfriend, you just don’t feel feminine. It is great if you have a reasonable amount of body hair to let it grow out, but walk a mile in the shoes of a hairy woman and I assure you, your perspective would be changed. There would be no snickering behind a hand, there would be blatant pointing and distracting conversations where people stare at your hair (like men stare at boobs). And no amount of pleasant conversation will distract the person from your hairy face/chest/etc.

    • @ Facts of Life – You rock!

      @ Rae – As I said to AC above, I don’t deny for a second that women who try to wear their facial hair will have a lot of shit to take, nor that they’ll have a much harder job than those of us battling on the body hair front. Trish Morrisey took a lot of flack for even exhibiting photos of women with facial hair. But what I do take issue with is the idea that “when you have more facial hair than your boyfriend, you just don’t feel feminine.” This may be true for lots of women in today’s society, but it’s society that’s making them feel unfeminine, not their facial hair. Facial hair is part of femininity for a huge amount of women (40% according to the article above). Where are they? I rarely see them. They’re plucking and waxing and epilating and lasering and threading and feeling ashamed and humiliated when they don’t. We’ve got to end the shaming and humiliating of people who don’t conform to artificial standards of femininity/masculinity. Many many women have facial hair. Many many women are disgusted and depressed by their own facial hair like AC above. And that’s a really negative fact about our society. It’s also, I believe, one we can change. Look at women like Frida Kahlo, the talented, intelligent, beautiful Latin American artist who wears her considerable whiskers with pride. I think if I walked a mile in the shoes of a woman with more facial hair than average I’d be even more convinced that we need to create choice where currently there isn’t any.

      Also, as a little aside, what’s a ‘reasonable’ amount of body hair? I am not cute n’ fuzzy like the girl in the picture. I have more underarm hair than my boyfriend and the men I live with by far. It doesn’t make me feel unfeminine – it is my femininity.

    • I just came over here after reading the edited article on the guardian. I’ve not shaved my legs, underarms or bikini for years, though I do dipilitate my top lip and occasionally pluck straggley eyebrow hairs. I’m 25, so I’m pretty much the only hairy woman I know my age!

      It definitely is the same thing (body / facial hair), but there is nothing wrong with making yourself feel comfortable – the point is that you shouldn’t have to; looking natural should not make a person uncomfortable. It’s a fact though, that the way society is now, it does. Most women feel uncomfortable about being naturally hairy, and that is sad.

      Sometimes I feel like I am going against my principles by removing the hair that I do, but I do it to avoid feeling humiliated, not because I think I should. I know that really it shouldn’t humiliate me, but in some situations you really don’t want to be looked at like a leper; like job interviews or first dates.

      I think I should be braver, but it doesn’t seem any more productive to berate myself for being more of a coward about facial hair than I would like to be, than there is berating myself for being hairy.

      It’s nice to read a whole page of comments by people who feel the same way, that makes me feel more brave, more able to be who I am and look the way I naturally do.

      I do wonder whether I would be brave enough to be hairy if I wasn’t slim and considered reasonably attractive. I think that if I felt like I was too big (another horrible social judgement)it would probably be harder for me to accept my hairiness – maybe I would think ‘why would I want to make matters worse!’ If you already feel insecure about something, it is hard to be brave about other things that might make other people find you ugly and react to you in an upsetting way.

      Sorry, that was a bit stream of thought-y…!

    • @ Rae: I 100% agree! I know that my facial hair isn’t really the problem.. but it’s the worst having a hairy neck/cheeks/chin; it’s right there, for everyone to see! It’s inspiring to think.. ‘man, what would happen if all the hairy women in the world just let their hair grow’ (including facial hair!), but honestly the problem is deeper.. I wouldn’t think I looked pretty. I HATE looking at myself in the mirror on days when I haven’t had time to tame the craziness. Even if all the hairy women in the world let their hair grow.. there’d still be more unhairy women (at least facially) leaving me as the facially hairy minority :S

      @ Emer: ‘I am not cute n’ fuzzy like the girl in the picture.’ Just curious to know why you used the cute and fuzzy picture instead of some other random (actually) hairy girl?

  2. Wow! I would love to do this if I could ever build up the courage.

    I heard someone mention something about Julia Roberts having armpit hair at a premiere once 12 years ago, and people still remember it vividly from that long ago. I googled for the photo and I cannot believe that people went crazy over it – there’s hardly anything there! http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/6251239.stm

  3. I have really fine, blonde body hair, and I always liked to boast about the fact I can go 2 weeks without shaving my pits, legs, and pubes, before you may catch a glimpse of it up close. I didn’t even start shaving my pits until I was about 15, and even that was only because my Mum seemed jealous of my blonde body-locks and liked to repeatedly point out that when she looked really close or in the right light she could see THREE (approx) ghastly hairs growing under there. To this day it still really pisses me off that she did that. I hear that shaving encourages hair growth or something, and I’m pretty sure I’d still only have three hairs under there if it wasn’t for her nagging (I had full blown post-puberty hair everywhere else?) I would still have only 3 hairs under there.

    So basically this was really inspiring and I am definitely ditching my razor to see how long I can do this for. Although I always found pubic hair (even when fully grown) a bit itchy? Or maybe it’s just these ridiculous tiny lace wedgy pants (thongs) we’re supposed to be wearing that are the real itchy culprits?

  4. “Or maybe it’s just these ridiculous tiny lace wedgy pants (thongs) we’re supposed to be wearing “

    for what it’s worth I think “proper knickers” look better anyway :) [yeah I know - a chance would be a fine thing!]

  5. I made that leap years ago. I still find it hard sometimes to wear clothes that make it really obvious.

    Last year I took an even bigger step, and stopped wearing a bra! Originally it was because I got nipple thrush from breastfeeding. Wearing a bra was excruciating. When I had to go out without one I found myself feeling so apologetic. Then I started to examine that feeling. Why was I feeling that I had a responsibility to the people around me to wear a bra? After a few weeks my (e cup) breasts were less saggy than they had been in years. I could jump and run down the stairs without any discomfort.

    I am absolutely delighted with the way my breasts look now. I’m dreading having to wear a bra for my sister’s wedding (the bridesmaid’s dress makes it necessary). The bloody things are so uncomfortable!

    The one problem is finding clothes that work. Everything expects your breasts to be so much higher than they naturally are.

    • Go you! It’s such a mind-melt when you find yourself thinking ‘why do I feel like a social freak for refusing to do this when I really don’t want to do it and there’s actually no reason to do it?’ May you and your free range breasts have years of unfettered running and jumping.

    • This has been a great read! I stopped wearing a bra about a month ago. The bras I was wearing were old and tatty and getting quite uncomfortable so I threw them out and thought I’d go buy some new ones. I never got around to it and one day I realised that I was doing just fine without wearing a bra. Yay for saving money and liberating my boobies. I also don’t shave. I don’t have a lot of hair though, and probably wouldn’t have the guts to not shave if I had dark thick hair, so I really admire women who are cool and brave enough to do that.

  6. I concur Gillian! But to rephrase: “Hair hair!” :) I’m pretty lax about shaving, never waited to see how long it can get though! Maybe because the town I stay in is pretty conservative (especially considering it’s a University town, the home of free thinkers? Nope never understood that one) and I’m already considered a bit “out there” for most people… Maybe I’m just not brave enough!

    Regardless, my boyfriend really doesn’t seem to mind it. He’s only once commented that it’s scratchy (which I believe wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t recently shaved) after which I told him his beard is scratchy and I don’t complain. That shut him up :)

    Never met a women who enjoyed shaving and waxing so I think it would be embraced if a few more people started doing it.

    • The small town thing is a tricky one. It’s probably easier to let loose with your underarm moose when you’re in cosmopolitan Londoninium. Towards the start of the experiment I was definitely more likely to cover up when I went home to my own oddly conservative small university town (where I was also a bit ‘out there’ – are we secretly the same person?). But then I just got more comfortable, and more used to people’s reactions, and now I don’t mind the hicks any more than i mind the hand-whispering tube yuppies. I love all the gender police equally!

    • Oddly enough, I think I’m almost the opposite to most of these comments. My Mum was one of those who said, exactly as in this article, that you should ‘put it off as long as possible because you won’t be able to stop’. She told me that it was probably best just to do my shins, never my thighs, and my armpits but never my arms. I’ve also heard her say that doing anything to your lady bits is just unnatural. Growing up, I was the only one who persisted shaving through the winter, despite not showing my legs at all or being in any relationship where anybody might see my legs (or other parts), while she contentedly wears skirts that show off hairy legs. I have a lot of respect for that, but couldn’t do it myself.

      I might be slightly kidding myself here, but I consider myself a shaver for the reason that I like being shaved; I like the feeling of having smooth legs and armpits. In fact, I have friends who are a lot more into the idea of being ‘pretty’ and looking good than me (I don’t wear make up regularly, and am often referred to as a boy both because of the way I act and the way I dress) and yet they complain about shaving and tell me that they do it as little as they can get away with, maybe every three days. Whereas, I like to maintain that ‘just shaved feeling’ all of the time. I shave whenever I shower (once a day, usually) and I do it for myself, not considering my plans, whether I might be seen in public, or anything like that.

      And, also, I have an ex girlfriend who(used to) never shave at all. So even though I was in a relationship where there was no pressure for me to continue shaving, I still did. But I respected her all the more for choosing not to.

      For me, I think large factor is the sensory nature. I like being able to run my hands up and down my legs without them getting caught on stubble. Also, it feels better, in my opinion, when I’m wearing clothes on top of shaved skin.

      Yeah, so my main point here was that, in response to Nicole’s comment, I do actually enjoy shaving. The process of it, too. I like thinking about how I’m systematically removing the hair from my body.

      But I’d like to think that, if the mood ever took me, I would happily bin my razors and forego shaving without fear of how society would view me. And I fully, completely, think that all women that make the decision to go au naturale are amazing and brilliant and sexy, and there should be more of them.

  7. actually, I’ve been thinking about this choice. I too have a choice, to shave my face every frikken day or look like a derelict, and every day I opt to shave, and expect to continue until I’m too old and raddled to care.

    • I don’t think men shaving and women shaving is the same thing at all.
      Say a man and a woman both skipped shaving for a couple of days. The stubble on the woman’s armpit would be called gross and disgusting, people would say that she’s letting herself go. The stubble on the man’s face, while some people might say he looks a bit unkempt, there’d also be a very big portion of people saying that the stubble is sexy and cool.
      Similarly, if a man doesn’t want to be clean-shaven then he has a bunch of different options for how to wear his facial hair. A woman is given no option other than to be clean-shaven.

    • A minor correction, a man is only allowed to go unshaven, uncensored if he meets a certain model of what is ‘sexy’, ‘manly’, or ‘a real beard’. A very large number of men who don’t have complete or uniform coverage end up being ridiculed for patchy or unmanly growth so are socially pressured into shaving. It’s a perhaps less extreme form of the same sort of gender rolling bullshit, but nonetheless an extant one. As to the article above, absobloodylutely, and it’s interesting and often challenging as a guy to analyse my own reactions to things like female body hair and wonder why I find myself defaulting to certain reactions (and learning not to default, either through simple experience or effort).

    • One important difference is that wearing a beard does not make a man appear less masculine in the way that an unshaven woman is considered less feminine. Yes, men’s bodies are policed, but all policing is not equivalent.

  8. The world needs more women like you. Applause!

    As for Q1, it’s not the hair that matters (for me, at least), it’s what you do with it. Neatness and hygiene is half-way to sexy.

  9. I’m 13 years old but luckily wear tights and long-sleeved shirts to school so don’t have to enter the shaving/waxing frenzy quite yet, though I do if I’m going swimming or something. I wish female body hair was more publicised because in this Vagenda poster’s generation, it seems the men around her are reasonably forgiving that her legs/underarms don’t resemble those of Megan fox or Rihanna.

    At my age, the number of times boys in my school have exclaimed, “GIRLS have ARMPIT hair?!” shocks me, and if a girl has hairy anything (not only legs and underarms: tummies, arms, bushy eyebrows…the list goes on) they’ll recoil in horror and say “Why cant she just shave it off?” as if girls could just stop being so selfish and use a razor and hair would never bother them again (or grow back even thicker).

    I’m not sure if it’s our generation or our age that causes this prejudice against hair, I sincerely hope it’s the latter. I think what is to blame is porn and celebrity sexualization, both of which teenage boys are engrossed by many hours of the day. In these mediums women are hairless, therefore that is what is necessary to be attractive, therefore every girl must conform if they dont want to be a freak. What’s awful is girls DO conform and thus boys don’t know any different. I’m certain that even if the most popular, gorgeous girl in the school were to abandon her aloe vera wax strips, it would not dawn upon boys that this could be acceptable, but that this girl is no longer attractive. It is a neverending cycle that nobody is brave enough to stand up to because it’ll be their head on the chopping block, not the razor’s.

    • It makes me sad that 13 year old girls are having to work out ways to hide their body hair. It also makes me feel old, because In My Day we had none of this nonsense. I didn’t start shaving until I was 17 years old, which it seems is unthinkable today.

      I am not quite ready to relinquish my Gillette and Veet, but I do fear for my pre-teen daughter who will soon be confronted with this and may feel pressured into hair removal. I would like her to have the choice.

      I hope you don’t mind me mentioning this, Emer (and feel free to delete this bit) but I have recently started a non profit pre-teen magazine called Jump! Mag. We hope to offer young girls an alternative from the glossy, pink and fluffy comics and magazines that serve only as a marketing vehicle for glossy American teen soap stars.

      We have articles on feminism, ecology, science and – I am particularly proud of this – our #writtenbyyou section by pre-teen and teenage girls.

      May, if ever wish to write for us, please do come and have a look.

      Thanks, Emer for an excellent article.

    • I have no powers of deletion, for I am but a lowly guest poster, but if I did I would certainly not be deleting tales of your super-important initiative. Huzzah.

    • feministcalledmay – I went through something similar at school – swimming was hell for the hair reason alone. Now I’m 25 and have for a few years been pretty settled into not shaving – turns out it’s not a big deal for the kind of partners or friends I choose.

      Good luck, young feminista :D

    • At school I was taunted by the boys telling me to shave my legs and calling me ‘the bearded lady’ because of my moustache. Teenagers will pick on anything that isn’t what they consider ‘normal’, and it’s such a shame.

      May – stick it out, they are juveniles. You’ll meet more open-minded people as you grow up – even if the initial reactions are still a little off. It’s your body, and your hair.

    • I concur. Can we say A-May-Zing? (Punnery!) I hope I you won’t think I sound ageist, but I can’t believe you have this level of insight at 13. What have you been reading, woman? What I will say though is that I reckon if the girls in school (university/work/the bridge club/the retirement home) did stop shaving (regardless of their popularity or attractiveness), it would actually make a difference. Because in my own limited and personal experience, growing out my body hair has dramatically changed the attitudes of those around me regarding what is acceptable. It doesn’t have to be a never-ending cycle. We can challenge it and stop it and make a more accepting and feminist-tastic world for the next generation (and maybe even get to enjoy a bit of gender-utopia ourselves if we get a wriggle on).

    • Wow thank you!! my name isn’t actually May, it’s my middle name (I knew that anyone I knew who saw a 13-year-old writing about feminist with my name would immediately know it was me, as I bang on about it quite a lot) but the pun is very kind. I have been reading a lot of caitlin moran, which is probably the reason I feel so passionately about everything to do with feminism and freedom of the patriarchy. these comments have greatly cheered me up, thank you.

    • @feministcalledmay – - I had the same experience with boys reactions aged 13, 23 years ago, so *hopefully* yes it is an age and not a generational thing.

      It’s been said before but I’ll say it again: you are one awesome lass. Here’s to the 13 year old feminists!

    • Agreed! I remember being that age and being made fun of by the girls who had noticed that I didn’t yet shave my armpits. It hadn’t even occurred to me to do so, but all of a sudden I had something to be ashamed about. My friend who had very dark hair and didn’t shave her legs yet was mercilessly picked on by the boys in PE who used to make reference to her looking like a ‘gorilla’.

      @feministcalledmay I wish I had your awareness of feminist issues when I was that age; I think it probably would have saved me a lot of unhappiness as a teen!

    • @feministcalledmay I had the same view at 13 – what’s the bloody point of wasting money on maintaining an area which will have NO AUDIENCE for years? (a sentiment echoed by Caitlin Moran, so it must be right on) And the AMOUNT of abuse I used to get from other girls (I also had short hair so the boys probably wrote me off as another dude). Say strong. We all think you’re awesome.

      PS Emer, obviously your awesomeness is on a par.

    • RedHead i’m very new to all this feminist-uniting-via-the-internet, but it has certainly made me wish that i had more friends like you (on top of all the CatMo worshipping and feminism, you – im guessing – are a redhead, which is superr cool)!! i have now followed you on twitter i think, i love all the stuff you’ve tweeted to Vagenda. :)

    • Morethanadinnerlady
      I am in my late 40′s and remember creaming off all the hair on my arms when I was 14, it looked ridiculous and more noticeable to teasing classmates than the hair that was there before. From then I took the view that hair removal was a total waste of effort and money, now I only remove it if I feel like it, armpits only. I got round teasing by getting creative but being hairy and having a certain look was considered my arty thing. I wear black opaque tights all year round with DMs or biker boots, brilliant for walking with little colurful print skirts. I shall still wear this when I’m old.
      My daughter is 9 and has a hairy strip down her back, she is learning to be powerful about it and counteracts teasing with real strength. The boys her age don’t notice the teasing and push to conform comes from the girls. my daughter is challenging them to think about why they want to look like they do (over weight and dress as well).
      Think the Jump magazine is a great idea

  10. My friends and I have gone through cycles of shaving and not shaving, starting from the end of high school. I only had the courage to do this because of an inspirational woman who asked me why we women shave, and we discussed her experience with her non-shaven self . Being challenged to critically think about conformity completely changed how I view my habits, and I’m always grateful for that.

    In response to Simon, beards and facial hair are becoming all the rage, at least in New York where I’m at. Generally I think guys look great with beards. I think in part it’s because I never want anyone to have to shave if they don’t want to. In the end, there are good people out here who don’t react horribly when they see natural bodies. And to all the 13 year old girls out there, solidarity with friends makes everything easier, that’s how I started to be comfortable with myself.

  11. @feministcalledmay I salute you! I wish I had been so wise and feminist at 13! Seriously, you rock my world.

    As for hair: I shave my legs and pits but my ladygarden is, ‘ow you say….entirely freestyle. My boyf has no complaints, and I feel infinitely sexier naked with a nicely kept bush than worrying about pube stubble, ingrown hairs and plucked-chicken bits.

    I do think I make a choice to shave my legs. I know, I know, but seriously, I like a nice shaven leg, and I find it makes my tattoos stand out more when I go tightsless (June, usually). Mind, there’s nothing wrong with a winter coat either!

    I guess my philosophy to body hair is: it’s your body hair. So do whatever the f*ck you want with it. I, for one, will not be guilted or shamed into spending time and money making my vulva look like someone else’s.

  12. I’m taking this hairy journey too. I’ve started with the legs and to be honest i’m quite proud of them. i tend to show them off whenever I can: “Hey look at my fur, it’s awesome, it keeps me warm in winter!”

    Also Emer I want to take you for that pint! love your writing.

    • I’m up for a pint! I hardly know any other women who don’t shave, and I’ve often thought (like the anonymous poster above says) that a little bit of solidarity would be a nice thing. It’d be cool to have a chat about the ups and downs of letting it all grow out. So get my e-mail addy off the Vagendites and mine’s a Guinness (but if you turn out to be a crazy epilatory evangelical who tries to kill me, I’ll be very disappointed in you).

    • Can I join?

      I stopped shaving 2 years ago (proof! http://nikkidekker.com/?p=587061120), with intervals for especially the legs. I tend to shave those in summer, because, like BDP, I have a thing for smooth barbie legs (I wish guys had them too).

      But with the pits it’s a whole different story: I love them, I’d like to keep them for ever and ever – until, like Monday night, I have to go on stage and perform in front of the whole of my class, and I want to wear a dress, and I get so self conscious and insecure that I shave it all – regretting it within a minute, because of the instant rash and itch..

      I keep struggling with summer and formal occasions too. On the one hand, I love my pits, on the other, I love my sleeveless dresses – but then it comes to mind that body hair, perhaps, simply doesn’t have a place in civilized occasions? After all, you never see men sleeveless or in shorts for a theatre visit. And it makes me think, logically, I should ditch the dresses or the hair.

      I know that seems like a superfascist, anti-woman, conformist stance, but I think it’s important to consider that there’s a form for social occasions, manners, that make communication with strangers less difficult. And to be confronted with someone’s body hair (their intimate, sexy parts), might be crossing that line.

      Let’s discuss this in relation to some hardcore anti-capitalist theory?

    • Can I join?

      I stopped shaving 2 years ago (proof! http://nikkidekker.com/?p=587061120), with intervals for especially the legs. I tend to shave those in summer, because, like BDP, I have a thing for smooth barbie legs (I wish guys had them too).

      But with the pits it’s a whole different story: I love them, I’d like to keep them for ever and ever – until, like Monday night, I have to go on stage and perform in front of the whole of my class, and I want to wear a dress, and I get so self conscious and insecure that I shave it all – regretting it within a minute, because of the instant rash and itch..

      I keep struggling with summer and formal occasions too. On the one hand, I love my pits, on the other, I love my sleeveless dresses – but then it comes to mind that body hair, perhaps, simply doesn’t have a place in civilized occasions? After all, you never see men sleeveless or in shorts for a theatre visit. And it makes me think, logically, I should ditch the dresses or the hair.

      I know that seems like a superfascist, anti-woman, conformist stance, but I think it’s important to consider that there’s a form for social occasions, manners, that make communication with strangers less difficult. And to be confronted with someone’s body hair (their intimate, sexy parts), might be crossing that line.

      Let’s discuss this in relation to some hardcore anti-capitalist theory?

    • This is shaping up to be the best Hairy Mary pint ever. Also, does this mean I get bought two rounds?

      I’ve had similar thoughts to you about the intimacy of the hair and the differences in men’s and women’s clothing, but I ultimately dismissed them as constructed and artificial. Why is a hairy armpit intimate and yet a shaven one isn’t? Why are women’s clothes designed to show off these areas and yet told that without ‘feminization’ they’re too intimate/disgusting to display? Money, that’s why – the creation of people who must consume unnecessary products in order to be considered appropriately gendered, the rendering of the unnecessary necessary. But let’s continue this when tipsy! Get my e-mail off the Vagendites, and let us drink!

  13. I don’t shave my legs/underarms, but I do wear makeup. I didn’t know why, or how to square that philosophically, so thanks for that and keep up the good work – I will see you all in feminist heaven (but no champagne, I’m 13)

    • I guess philosophically it’s all about being able to decide the costs and benefits of your options *on your own terms* and remembering these things are all optional. :D

  14. I applaud you. As for me, sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. Sometime I like the fur and sometimes I prefer the skin. I think what’s important is this — do what YOU want, not what you feel you HAVE to do. And if your partner has an issue with what you do with your body, you’ve got the wrong partner. My husband doesn’t care one way or another (except for the one time I went full Brazilian — he begged me to grow it back, actually. Win!).

  15. Great piece. I haven’t shaved my legs in years and years, but I do shave my pits. Last year I experimented with not shaving the pits either, for maybe about six months. It was eye-opening in terms of what I learned about myself. I don’t think twice about going out in public with my hairy legs exposed in shorts or a skirt, but wearing sleeveless tops with my pit hair hanging out was more difficult for me. I also felt like I got a lot more sweaty, so in the end I decided I was just more comfortable with bare pits.

    I doubt I’ll be shaving my legs again, though. My daughter loves to run her hands up and down my legs and play with the hair. She thinks it’s cool and I love that. I hope it’ll be helpful to her when she gets to the point of feeling pressured about her appearance (she’s only 6 so body hair is not really an issue yet).

  16. yeah, love it!

    mamajoan I’m the opposite — haven’t shaved pits in a long time, but periodically shave leg hair.

    Throughout my 20′s I didn’t shave my legs at all, and as a regular swimmer I got used to the dumbstruck looks of men and women around me. I actually liked its effect on people (fear/moving away/pretending not to see me) b/c it meant I was not subject to the leering eyes that all young women got from the inevitable group of slobbering guys who seemed to camp out in the whirlpool/sauna area (Manchester Aquatics Centre – soooo badly designed).

    In all that time only one guy ever spoke to me about it. He was around 50ish, big tache, and really careful to let me know he wasn’t judging. He just wanted to know why I didn’t shave my legs, b/c he’d realised he had never before seen a woman with leg hair. I told him I couldn’t be bothered. I asked about his tache. Same. Everyone else looked at the floor, mortified, and we two hairy folk laughed our asses off.

  17. Wow, I never realised how lucky I am to have a Mum who never once commented on my body hair. I went all the way through secondary school without shaving anything. The other girls did try to bully me about my legs in gym class but gave up after a few weeks since my reply was simply “Why do you shave yours?” Small child type answers are always the best ones. My first boyfriend never commented, and none of my boyfriends since then have commented either. In fact, in agreement with other women commenting, some have even liked it.

    Now in my mid 20s I do my armpits every so often, to keep it a couple of cm short, and my legs if I fancy wearing a skirt/dress without tights. I wouldn’t do the legs if I weren’t so sick of the hassle I get in public. Why total strangers feel entitled to shout abuse across the street at my delicately fuzzy legs, I have no idea. I’ve done the legs precisely 6 times in my life so far and I feel a sense of pride in that. The men I’ve been with have never cared one way or the other.

    The only conclusion I can draw from all of this is that men fancy you no matter what body hair you do or don’t have and that shaving is a myth invented to sell more razors.

    If I ever have a daughter I’ll surely treat her pubescent body choices with as much grace and respect as my Mum did with me, because let’s face it, us women need to stop whining about the pressures we’re under. We should be taking our courage in both hands and changing the way we act. It’s time to stop discussing whose fault this all is and just get on with setting a far better example to the next generation.

    • “If I ever have a daughter I’ll surely treat her pubescent body choices with as much grace and respect as my Mum did with me, because let’s face it, us women need to stop whining about the pressures we’re under. We should be taking our courage in both hands and changing the way we act. It’s time to stop discussing whose fault this all is and just get on with setting a far better example to the next generation.”

      I think I might just chip that into a stone tablet and start a religion.

    • I’m totally sympathetic to the spirit of your words when you say, “us women need to stop whining about the pressures we’re under. We should be taking our courage in both hands and changing the way we act”, but for some women it’s just not that easy! If you are part of a community with very strictly policed gender rules, breaking those rules could lead to ostracising, shunning – even physical retaliation. So while you’re right that acting is vital, it’s important to recognise that many people *can’t* act, however much they want to.

    • So true Lasoti. Makes me feel even more strongly that those of us who have the freedom should use it. Becoming complacent about gender policing in our own societies is no way to respond to perceived/actual gender discrimination in ‘Other’ communities.

    • Did you get hassle in public BEFORE shaving your legs?! I’ve never done it and it’s therefore fine enough for strangers not to notice. Thought that was the case with most women’s hair, provided you never started that cycle. Afterwards it’s a different story I know. My friend stopped shaving her legs ages ago and it’s still quite coarse, I’m wondering will it ever go back to its natural state…

  18. As a child, I was completely against anything that might make me a woman (bras, shaving, dresses, make-up). Sadly, my body didn’t get the memo and grew a fine set of mammatory glands along with a fully functional uterus, etc. I refused to shave. I think the first time I shaved, I was in my late teens and I did it because I was curious. Smooth skin is interesting, I’ll grant, but the itch of regrowth is a bugger and if I shave my pits it only makes my armpits stick. Chaffing is not all that fun and hair grows in places inclined to chaff, I believe, for a reason (I.e. no chaffing! Amazing!) I still don’t shave. My husband may enjoy smooth skin but he really doesn’t care one way or another. In the spirit of mutual cooperation, he’s even shaved his bits. Interesting, but a lot of work. I’ve had hairy armpits my whole adult life and I couldn’t give a rat’s arse what other people think or say (I’m actually unlikely to notice, since I’m usually off in the clouds somewheres). I’m glad I’ve escaped (through sheer bullheadedness and an awesome mom) the trap of ‘must pluck, shave, etc.’ At the same time, I’ve often wondered if doing so might make me happier to be female. I don’t wear make up and haven’t the slightest clue what bits go where. Have I missed out on some secret feminine ritual? Should this even be an issue? If I put on a dress, will I suddenly be comfortable with my female body and ecstatic to be a woman?

    Probably not. As for facial hair, I have a mole on my cheek that grows three beautiful curling hairs. It’s my witch’s mole and I only shave them when my husband can’t stop fiddling with them.

    I guess my point is that there are better determiners for gender identity, such as motherhood, the potential for motherhood, having curves, or, I don’t know, small hands? Underneath the hair, clothes, make up and whatnot is a human being trying to live in a world of other human beings. My eldest daughter is fascinated with being a princess/mermaid/girl and loves floofy dresses. Hey, good for you, kid. Now come over here and let me show you how to hold a sword. Some life skills cross gender roles.

    • Hey, just a heads-up: lots of trans* ladies don’t have “curves” or “small hands” or whatever, so your gender identity markers are reeeaaaaaaaaaally cissexist. Something to watch out for, although I am sure you meant well. There’s no point appending blinkered gender essentialism to a fantastic post about defying gendered expectations, after all.

    • Good start, Lynne, but as a transgender man (who spent fifteen years shaving his legs before transition!) I have all three of the potential for motherhood, curves, and small hands. Gender identity comes from within – listen to the trans people on that one, we deal with it face on every day :)

    • “some life skills cross gender roles” yes indeed! :) But your point that curves could be a better determiner for gender identity is one i have come across (surprisingly, I think) in many feminist and celebrating-women arenas. I find it difficult to compute – does this mean that curves are an essential part of womanliness? What if you’re a flat-chested and narrow-waisted ‘boy-shape’, yet function fine as a woman otherwise (like me)? Does this undermine you as a woman? Similarly, what if you are unable to have children – are you therefore not a ‘proper’ female? x

  19. Amen to that, and so well written.

    I never could understand the desire to appear pre-pubescent, and have always worried about men who prefer women to look as such. The current obsession with shaving pubes is particularly disturbing.

  20. Love this piece and love the comments – I have never made a conscious point of not shaving but I can completely identify with the idea of a winter coat on my legs. Mostly because I get lazy and it seems a massive waste of time (particularly since my boyfriend really does not care at all about it either way).

    Feminstcalledmay – As well as adding my two pence to the comments about your awesomeness, insight and eloquence and adding to the applause of the fact that there are two 13 year olds openly declaring themselves feminists on this page, I also wanted to say that I think the issue you highlighted is a mixture of both age and generation. I completely agree with you in that I think pornification and sexualisation has a part to play, and is perhaps more prevalent than in other generations but I also think that teenagers are massively more susceptible to trying to fit in with these ideals (although clearly not all teenagers!).

    From my experience, guys in high school feel just as pressured in to living up to the ‘I’m a macho man, I can get a sexy girl, I can show how powerful and manly I am by picking on other people that don’t conform to these ideals’ as the girls do to wear make-up and shave their legs. I would hazard a guess that, when they make comments, they’re not actually thinking about what makes a woman attractive to them and more thinking about what they think makes a woman attractive to the other boys around them. I would also suggest that more of them are aware that women have armpit hair than are owning up to it. As people get older, and more confident in their own opinions, I think they are much more likely to express challenging ideas about body hair, body image and the like. And be more open to exploring these ideas even if it is something they may not have properly considered before.

    I guess I am basing this on the fact that of, of the two guys I have had serious realtionships with, neither of them had every really thought about why women shave their legs, neither of them would identify themselves as feminist or really have thought about why they never see women with hairy armpits in the media, but neither of them were at all bothered on occassions where I hadn’t shaved for a couple of weeks.

    Not that I’m saying that everybody renounces these ideals once they leave high school, obviously some of them do stick, otherwise discussions like the ones on this site probably wouldn’t exist. But I have found, and I think most people would agree that conformity rarely seems as big of an issue than when you’re 13, 14, or 15 and dressed in swimming gear in front of your classmates.

  21. First, as one for coming on 50 years, I can confirm that boys are gross, but the hair is not a big deal, and this will go to my 17 year old daughter & my 15 year old son.

  22. I have many skin problems (eczema, dermatitis, etc.) so I’ve given up most shaving. However I’ve found that if I don’t shave my pits at least once a week I get really rank. It’s like I can’t get the deodorant all the way down to my skin. So I do that just because I prefer it. I’ve taken to wearing long skirts or trousers just as a general way to protect my skin but it also means I really don’t pay attention to my leg hair. I never shave above the knee and every so often if I want to dress up will shave below the knee, but that’s about how often I wear makeup too. Although I have to admit, I like the hairless look on both men and women and before I had skin problems I shaved regularly AND made my husband do the same.

    But due to severe dermatitis I had to shave my head for 4 years as I was unable to use any of the medicated creams that help. So I was a bit unusual anyway with a prickly scalp and hairy legs :) But I refused to wear wigs or cover my head (unless I just felt like it, I love hats but even still it usually shows) so that’s another gender issue: it’s fine for men to not have hair but women get mortified without. Whatever. It’s my head, I can do what I like. Now that I can use the medicated stuff again my hair is short (b/c I still can’t have much hair) and blue, so my lack of conformity might be showing ;)

  23. Ah! This is great. I’ve recently started a similar experiment. It’s going well, but I think I need some more modest bikini bottoms; now as soon as the towel drops I sort of crab scuttle into the water.

    Also I’m finding that my growth reveals interesting things about myself, others, and my perception of others. Sometimes I want to wave my hands in the air in front of someones face, other times, I dance elbows-clamped-by-my-ribs style.

    • The elbow-clamp is a totally rad dance routine.

      I have a Tankini: like a bikini with a choice of vest top or bra top and little shorts instead of briefs. Comfy, good for swimming in, good for sun on the tummy if you want it, and flattering too. What are you waiting for, order now!

      I’ve had similar on days and off days. There are times when I want to run around Leicester square in a bra top hoisting a sign over my head that says ‘Respect Ma Fuzz Fuckas’ and times when I apologetically shrug my cardy off in a restaurant, watching for judgemental stares. Increasingly, I don’t feel the need to do either. Which can only be a good thing.

  24. I only shave my legs once in a while, and I have been that way all my life. I’m very pale, so I never really wore shorts or skirts once I was old enough for there to be peer pressure about being tan. Since I wasn’t going bare-legged anyway, no reason to shave. I’m not very good at it, not having practiced much. I stopped shaving my armpits (except for special occasions, like at the bride’s request if I’m a bridesmaid in a sleeveless dress) about 7 years ago. I’m a ginger, so my leg and arm hair is blonde, and my armpit and pubic hair is coppery orange – so it isn’t as stark and noticeable as some women who have darker hair. I can’t even describe how amazed I was when I discovered that my armpit hair was red. Can you imagine? I’d been shaving so long, for no real reason, that I didn’t even know what color my own body hair was. Ridiculous. My husband was a little wary at first, but when I asked him if he’d shave his, he saw it my way. It doesn’t faze him at all now. I have tried shaving my lady parts a few times, and it is uncomfortable through the whole process – shaving itself, being bare, growing back – and I won’t be doing it again. I think “Map of Tasmania” by Amanda Palmer captures my sentiment exactly, and should be required listening for all for all vagina-bearers. :)

  25. Although my mother was always psychotically shark-smooth (and yet affixed false eyelashes daily) I am warmly drawn to natural body hair. It’s normal, healthy; neither a turn off-nor-on.

  26. @femenistcalledmay – seriously jealous of your already wonderful fem knowledge- I salute you and your obviously awesome Mum.

    Being a teenager can be really crappy, but you clearly have a head start in awesome stakes, so never fear, you are already rockin!

    I still remember one stupid comment a boy made about my facial hair when I was about 11…I went through puberty at the really young age of ten, so I was noticeably hairier and chubbier than all the other girls in primary school- really not fun, so I unfortunately started plucking out all my hair on my face when I was only about that age, and my mother has always (and still does!) try to pressure me in to shaving my armpits as she says I ‘look like a man’ and embarrass her.

    I laugh in her face!!!

    I LOVE not shaving my armpits. I am never ever embarrassed by it. I only stopped doing it when I had a bunch of gorgeous sexy lesbian friends who asked me why I did, and I realised I had no idea why. Also my boyfriend at the time thought it was ‘gross’ and he was a jerk so I kind of did it to piss him off- but you know what? It didn’t work- he ended up loving it! As has every other boyfriend I’ve had. I’ve often found it is girls who will mock or be afraid of it- you are challenging everything they base their identity on, and it is terrifying to them. Most boys I know find it completely sexy that I care so little what society thinks of me- they see me as strong and powerful- a force to be reckoned with! And that’s exactly how I want to be seen.

    The best thing about not shaving my pits any more, is that because I loved it so much, I now do not know one single girl who does- everyone stopped doing it any nobody has looked back. We love it. We even started our own girl gang- Legit Clit :)

    Go forth hairy ones and prosper!!!!

  27. I seem to be comfortable with either hairy pits OR hairy legs but not both at the same time? Im lucky enough to be friends with a bunch of amazing women who’ve gone through phases of shaving and not-shaving various bits and we can all now celebrate our own and each others’ bodies at whatever phase we’re at, hairy or hairless xxx

  28. Wow I wish I was that intelligent at 13 instead it took me until my twenties to realise the stupidity in some of the things we do as women to appear more “womanly.” Although I still like to wear make-up and nail varnish, my boyfriend asked me why I’ve stopped shaving but still like make-up if I’m a feminist, well I just said I like art and like to decorate myself too.

    Being disabled as well does make it more difficult to shave my legs and I haven’t in a long time, but I am surprised about how hairy my legs are. Maybe if I saw more women with hairy legs I wouldn’t feel so strange.

    My son’s ask me why I have hair, I said well that’s what happens to men and women when they grow older. I was once talking with my boyfriends mother about body hair and she said it feels unhygienic, I just said why is it, men have hair and they’re ok.

  29. I really love this article. I’ve got plenty of friends who don’t shave at all and it’s no problem – and they’re majorly sexy. I’ve also gone long periods without shaving my legs and it has never bothered me too much, although I have shaved my pits religiously everyday since I was about 13… why is that? Must attempt to stop. Really.

    The interesting thing that I’ve found about shaving/not shaving my legs is really to do with sports. I’m a fairly avid long-distance cyclist and you can actually feel the difference between smooth and hairy legs when out on the bicycle. That surprised me the first time I noticed. And I do find it a bit funny to think about the wind blowing the hair (on my legs) back.

    Serious question now however: what have people done about the bikini-line? Because mine is quite dark and goes almost halfway down my upper-thigh… I still find it embarrassing. Not sure what to do but wish I could get over it. Feel like I shouldn’t care but I still do. *sigh*

    • Whilst I epilate my legs and armpits (I prefer the look and more importantly to me, the feel of hairless legs) I’ve not yet found an adequate solution to how to deal with pubic hair either – let it grow and its uncomfortable and (in my opinion) ugly, remove it and its painful and itchy. It’s a lose-lose situation!

  30. I’ve all but stopped shaving my armpits, because that can be hidden pretty well if I’m not feeling brave enough. Its my legs that I’m really struggling with, I wanted to go swimming the other day and had less than 1mm of hair on my legs yet still worried incessantly that everyone would look at me and laugh, I shaved my legs just for that reason and it actually really upset me that I think like this. I have spent the last year reclaiming my fat body as my own and not the publics, and it has been the best thing I have ever done.. I had absolute no qualms in showing so much of my fat body at the swimming pool but that tiny bit of hair on my legs had me reeling.

    I too really want to change my hairyness or non-hairyness into a choice, just like make-up. But it is definitely going to take a while to get rid of this ingrained idea that its gross.

    • A big warm well done on reclaiming your fat and refusing to be shamed by your body – an important political statement and a liberating personal journey.

      Now cut yourself a little slack. You’re consciously, consistently working to challenge social norms that make people humiliated by and ashamed of their physicalities. In fact, forget cutting yourself a little slack, give yourself a freakin medal woman.

      If you’re not at the point where you can can swimming with hairy legs, you’re not at that point. You’ll get there. But it is hard, so acknowledge that and don’t get upset – be patient with and proud of yourself.

  31. Thank you for this article. I have poly cystic ovaries and I have a lot more body hair than most women and I hate it so much, but I do think that’s just because society expects me to be hair free, and here I am with extra. I don’t shave my bush any more and I only shave my legs if I go out in a skirt and my boyfriend hates it. It really winds me up because he doesn’t shave his face every day, and if he doesn’t have to go to work for a week or two he simply won’t shave! But nobody talks about this, it’s just accepted that this is the way things are. If only more women were like you. (and more men) x

    • I think lots of women believe themselves to be abnormally hairy because they never actually see other hairy women. I don’t have poly cystic ovaries (sending you sympathy), but I am hella hairy. I have more underarm hair than any man I know – it’s like I’m keeping chinchillas under there. Do I have more body hair than most women? I have no idea – I never see other women’s body hair.

      I’m lucky not to have encountered a disapproving partner/lover, but I wonder if you’ve communicated with your boyf as clearly as you’ve communicated with us here? I’m a great believing in the power of explaining stuff. x right back atcha.

  32. A very refreshing read! I have pretty much the same relationship with shaving as the writer aspires to in question 9. ie, it’s an occasional thing, like makeup.

    As a my hairy legs were commented on by the other kids. I think this was the only reason I shaved, and it took some persuading for my mother to allow me to take a razor to my 11 year old skin. If it wasn’t for the comments, I don’t think I would have even bothered. A few years later I gave up on the whole thing. It itched, it took up time, and it grew back so quickly that it was barely worth it. I wore trousers and hung around with boys, and I insisted on wearing joggers under my gym skirt. By sixth form, I was proudly rolling up my trouser leg in biology class to demonstrate how I had hairier legs than one of the boys.

    My first sexual relationships proved difficult. Suddenly I would be baring my legs not to a crowd of male mates who, but to men who I wished to see me as desirable and feminine. It was difficult, especially as my not shaving was in no way a political choice – it was simply easier and more comfortable. In my late teens I spent a fortune on waxing, which with my fast regrowth only lasted four days before the stubble felt like sandpaper. I remember being rather grateful that my boyfriend lived in London and only saw me once a month.

    After I hit 20, I remained almost exclusively lesbian. I identified as bi but felt women would be more accepting of my inability to maintain a smooth appearance. I refused to tolerate the itching and the rashes but rather than reconcile both my hairiness and my interest in the male species, I simply considered men to be the sacrifice I had to make for comfort. Men featured on my bedpost notches strictly on a one-night basis – on those occasional nights when I had donned a skirt and braved the razor. I remember being ardently perused one evening by a man I had fancied the pants off for about 3 years and I turned him down because I couldn’t bear the thought of him delving beneath my floor-length dress and fondling my hairy calves.

    To this day, shaving remains a once-in-a-while practice. Like makeup, I consider shaving to be part of the process of ‘femming up’. I think “today I am going to embody everything traditionally girly”. It’s like putting on a costume. I dress in a way that is not typical of my jeans-and-tshirt-loving self, I paint my normally naked face, and I remove my usual coating of fur. It’s another side to me: my inner Femme, as it were. I still feel I have to be her in order to attract men, so I guess my next step would be to have a long term male partner while being open about my relationship with my body hair.

    Regarding the shaving of pubes, I have a vague recollection of seeing a porn film and pondering over why some of the women had shaved bits, but I had the sense to dismiss it as “a porn thing” and therefore by no means a reflection of the real world. About a year ago I was genuinely shocked that genital shaving was perceived as ‘the norm’ by people and that if one was getting laid on a regular basis then one should strive to remain hairless. To this day I have only done so twice – once when I was drunk and once for a sexual experiment. It was interesting, and not unpleasant, but again it was a CHOICE rather than a necessity, which is how it should be.

  33. It’s fair enough to want to groom your body as you see fit, but I don’t think this has anything to do with society keeping women in their well waxed place.

    Youth and fair skin are a couple of traits that are attractive in women and have been for quite some time. The fair skin thing might be socio-cultural, but the theory goes that youth in women is attractive because mid-to-late teens is an optimum child bearing age. It’s also a time when body hair while not non-existant, is certainly less than in later years.

    If all girls decided to stop shaving, it wouldn’t level the playing field and be a triumph for feminism, quite the opposite. I believe it’d mean that younger, fair skinned girls would have a clear advantage over their darker haired, older counter-parts when attracting the opposite sex.

    So my point is, yes you should feel free to rock your fluffy legs and pits, but this isn’t you raging against a social injustice against women, but rather you raging against a biological imperative.

    • Hi Karim, thanks for your contribution to this discussion. I’m not a fan of evolutionary psychology or arguments based on the notion of a ‘biological imperative’ that ultimately reinforce arbitrary social norms and excuse sexist opinions. I even have a joke about it, but it might be a bit rude to tell it in this context. However, it begins: ‘What did the feminist sociologist say to the evolutionary psychologist?’ I’ll leave you to figure out the answer.

      I usually wouldn’t be drawn in to a discussion of this kind, because I can tell from your comment above that I’m unlikely to learn anything from it. The reason I’m replying now is that there are elements of your reply that are extremely troubling.

      First and foremost mid to late teens is certainly NOT an optimum child bearing age, either physically or socially. I’d advise you to do some proper research on this before spouting such damaging rot. LB Tyrer’s 1978 ‘Complications of Teen Pregnancy’ (available on google scholar) might be a good place to start. You might also read ‘The Incidence and Complications of Teen Pregnancy at Chonburi Hospital’ by Watcharaseranee et al, 2006, which offers evidence to suggest that, significant social problems aside, teen pregnancy carries greater obstetric risks of preterm labour, anaemia and low-birth weight.

      The next troubling aspect of your comment is that, while this is an article about female body hair, your comment is about youth and fair skin. You seem to equate the these things. Lets deal with youth first. Most women grow body hair when they hit puberty. If you are implying that hairless bodies are attractive due to the biological imperative of youth being attractive, then you are implying that it is the youth of pre-pubescent girls rather than sexually mature girls which is biologically attractive. This is, frankly, very worrying. As I said, I hate evolutionary psychology, but if I were going to use your own tools against you I might very easily argue that the biological imperative is towards female body hair, which marks sexual maturity. Stronger than your assertion that people have regarded hairless females as attractive for ‘quite some time,’ might be the many accounts of the women above whose partners like their body hair in spite of obvious socialisation to the contrary. Ew, gross, you made me do evolutionary psychology. Now I need a shower (as a biological imperative_.

      On to fair skin. You say that fair skinned women have been attractive ‘for some time.’ Your implication is that the preference for fair skin is biological rather than cultural. Yet, in the UK, we live in a society where fair skinned women use fake tan, sun-beds and even dangerous chemical injections to achieve a fashionable milky coffee complexion. A hundred years ago, these women would have been staying out of the sun to protect their milky hues. Preferences for skin tones are cultural, not biological. Somebody tell Naomi Campbell that her fair-skinned sisters have a ‘clear advantage’ over her in the attractiveness stakes due to biological imperatives. She’d have a right laugh (then probably throw a hairdryer at them).

      Karim, you need sociology so bad. You also need some history. And some biology. And, of course, some good old fashioned feminism.

  34. ‘Here hair here’ as Withnail did not say.

    I appreciate that I can only speak for the man that I am but I have insistently encouraged my girlfriend to bin her razor and have made some progress in this direction. In my view ‘real’ men like ‘real’ women.

    I wanted to echo a chap further up by pointing out that men are also subject (albeit to a much lesser degree)to depilatory tyranny.

    My father is adamant that no gentleman ever sports a beard and when I first grew one in defiance he told me I looked like Peter Sutcliffe. I even have to endure the scorn and contempt of my peers at the Bar (a profession that actually bans facial hair according to this authoritative publication: http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/Barristers#Facial_Hair). One of my colleagues in chambers had the temerity to say to me: ‘The next time you shave why don’t you try standing a bit closer to the razor’.

    But you know what I don’t care what THEY think and nor should you.

    • ‘Real’ men? ‘Real’ women? No matter what youd do with your body hair, you are still a ‘real’ person. It’s good that you’d support your partner if she ditched her razor, but telling her you want a ‘real’ woman with body hair is as bad as pressuring her to shave.

  35. Hi nice piece….i dont shave my legs ever since I became aware of what is expected out of me for being born as a woman….under arms sometimes but otherwise no….and i always smile to myself when I am wearing shorts with leg hair out in public…its a high that never goes away!

  36. This is such a phenomenal piece. I can completely relate. I stopped shaving everything over the past year & I’m not looking back. I may shave my legs from the knees down on occasion with an electric razor, but that’s as good as it gets. I love my pits & pubes & legs. It is such an amazing feeling.

    You’ve made some fantastic points here. I want everyone to read this piece! Especially the people who’ve been less than receptive of not shaving (though thankfully I’ve gotten pretty decent responses so far).

    Making the choice to not shave is so freeing. Just knowing one can make that choice for oneself is freeing!

  37. I love my leg fur. It’s like having thousands of tiny antennae feeling the breeze. I’m no longer startled when bumblebees ricochet off my shins. And my jeans don’t stick to me either. I recommend it.

    Of course, since I happen to be a female to male transsexual, nobody turns a hair (ha ha) because I look like a guy. But I still remember the freakout I had to get over when I realised transitioning meant I’d have to stop shaving my legs. Not even being male from the neck up stops you internalising the shaving bullshit. Impressive, isn’t it?

  38. Fantastic article! I’ve previously worried to my boyfriend ‘can you see the regrowth,’ and ‘are these tights thick enough’ alot. He always sighs and says ‘you do realise it’s natural to have hair there?’ I used to think I was unnaturally hairy, but now I realise that we just never see anyone with hair on TV. Thanks so much for writing this, it would be so awesome if just having hairy legs could be part of every day, non-trousered life.

  39. I’m fascinated that this single topic has drawn perhaps as many comments as the rest of the articles on the site all together! It had never occurred to me that a lot of women shave not because they want to but because they see it as being expected of them, or it’s actively demanded from them. I think it’s a shame some still feel they need to cover up if they *are* hairy!

  40. This is the most stupid idea of a feminist movement. At a young age, you look for someone with the physical appearance you desire, you don’t seek someone who you don’t find very attractive in hope that they have an amazing personality.

    You girls who do “feminist movements” are generally so stupid. What you’re doing is a lifestyle choice and if you do it then so be it, but don’t expect everyone to like it. I have lifestyle choices too surprisingly and this may surprise you, some people don’t like it.

  41. This is the most stupid idea of a feminist movement. At a young age, you look for someone with the physical appearance you desire, you don’t seek someone who you don’t find very attractive in hope that they have an amazing personality.

    You girls who do “feminist movements” are generally so stupid. What you’re doing is a lifestyle choice and if you do it then so be it, but don’t expect everyone to like it. I have lifestyle choices too surprisingly and this may surprise you, some people don’t like it.

  42. Yo, nice article. I became a Hairy Mary 3 or 4 years ago, isn’t it practical?! The 5 minutes you save in the morning by not shaving can be spent in bed, or used to eat an extra piece of toast. Brilliant. At first I was a little bit wary of wafting my armpits about in public but that feeling is long gone. One of my armpits also has a big scar and a coco-pop mole in it so it’s like a magical, mysterious forest. I am just about to open a cake shop so will get a chance to show them off to all of Edinburgh’s cakefans, lucky them.

  43. THank you! I have been letting all my hairs grow for about 3 years now. I still get constant objections from my parents. The most recent one from my mom “You will NEVER be a successful yoga teacher with hairy armpits! It’s too offputting.” Well mom, if someone doesn’t want to learn a life-changing healing modality from me because I choose to not shave my beautiful hairs off, that is their loss. As for me- I have never met or been with a man that was repulsed by my hair. Most of them like it. Some of them LOVE it. And for those been that think its gross, it is a magnificent shallow guy repellant. If they are so turned off by natural humanness, I don’t really want them touching me any way. I actually find myself getting turned off by non-hairy humans now. Its just so…. weird!!! All the spikes and shiny smoothness. …. ew. THank you for your post and your bravery! You are awesome! Hairy girls unite! We are so sexy.

    • Where do you teach Yoga? Sometimes I feel a bit awkward being the only fuzz-queen in my yoga class. It would definitely help to have a hairy teacher…

  44. I shave my legs because I like the way my legs look when they’re shaved.

    I started shaving my legs because my friend did, not because society told me to.

    I had a Brazilian once and nearly died from pain, and do not plan to have one ever again.

    I don’t understand why you care so much about what other people think of you… you’ve gone ahead and stopped shaving because you wanted to, why not wear your awesome red dress and/or white string bikini and/or see through mesh onesie? If you don’t care about the presence or absence of hair, why should it matter if anyone else does?

    Does this make me anti-feminist?

    • Try not shaving for 6 months. Try it. Then tell me that you don’t understand why I care what other people think. Honestly – it’s blimmin hard!

      Of course it doesn’t make you anti-feminist to believe that women should do what they like with their bodies and not care what other think. In fact, that makes you a feminist in my book. However, I do think you underestimate society’s approbation of hairy women. Don’t believe me? Conduct an ‘experiment’ of your own and you’ll see.

    • But… I don’t want to try it. Not because I’m afraid of having people point and stare or gossip about me, but because I like shaving. I like the way it looks. Although, to be honest, when it comes to my legs, I can get away with not shaving because my hairs come back blonde. As a matter of fact, I’ve never shaved the back of my thighs. Ever. Never had a comment about it either, or ever really thought about it that much. I’ve just never seen the point.

      I just think that it’s great if you want to stop shaving and start plaiting your underarm hairs, but if you choose to hide it with long pants and long sleeved shirts, that’s your choice. Society doesn’t make you do that. Perhaps if you went out in a singlet and shorts, people might make commentary. But… that’s THEIR problem, not yours. People cop criticism about just about anything every day, but that doesn’t deter them from following their beliefs or ideals. It may give them pause to consider the merits of the criticism, but if it’s something they care about or believe in, it wouldn’t be enough to make them stop. If you stop shaving, it’s not society that makes you feel like you need to keep your hair under lock and key… that’s all you.

    • I am the cage.

      I am a product of society. I have learned arbitrary socio-cultural gender norms through my family, education and larger social context all my life. These norms are difficult to challenge, because they have been unquestioningly received and tacitly accepted for so long. It’s what my fave sociologist Pierre Bourdieu theorises in terms of the habitus – the set of durable conditioned structures that each of us has for interacting with the social world. It’s what another awesome mind, Michel Foucault, thinks of in terms of the disciplining of docile bodies. It’s what the intellectual hero Judith Butler calls the performativity of gender – the learned performances of girl and boy in a society that through its very language is constantly ‘boying’ and ‘girling’ people. These processes can be challenged, but it’s not as simple as being able to make an individual choice and immediately overcome a lifetime of conditioning – as the many comments above from other women who want to keep their body hair but feel uncomfortable doing so in public suggest, it is a challenging social and psychological process.

      You say that you started shaving because your friend did. I automatically think ‘Why did your friend start shaving?’ And, by extension, why does every other teenage girl do so? You say that you want to keep shaving because you like the way it looks. I have to ask how you learned that shaved female skin is more aesthetically pleasing than unshaved female skin. I’m just a bigger picture kind of gal. Perhaps for you shaving genuinely is a choice, but I think that if you tried not shaving for a while you would begin to question its autonomy.

    • Emer, with respect I think you also have to allow for adults making informed personal choices. Just because we’re conditioned to certain actions doesn’t make them necessarily bad. It’s no choice to be told that something is natural and therefore compulsory!

    • Hi Simon. Apologies if I miscommunicated. I would never ever tell anyone that shaving is ‘natural and therefore compulsory.’ I’m vehemently against body policing in all its forms. I am perfectly aware that social conditioning is not intrinsically bad – there are loads of things about the way that people behave in this society that I think are totally brilliant.

      Adults make informed personal choices, but the information has to come from somewhere. We do not live in little solipsistic bubbles of autonomy, but in a society that shapes our desires and behaviour.

      The reason I’m asking La Femme above to try not shaving is not because I think hair is ‘natural and therefore compulsory.’ What is natural anyway? It’s because she thinks that choosing to challenge arbitrary yet strongly socially engrained gender norms is easy, and the discomfort people feel when choose not to shave is simply a result of caring too much what other people think. I believe that an experiment in body hair would help her to question and complicate these ideas.

      If you’d like to conduct an experiment in arbitrary gender socialisation too, why not try going to work in a dress?

    • do you have one to fit my 32″ hips? I don’t :)
      FYI I belong to an older generation and have only experienced the plucked-smooth vagina on one occasion when my girlfriend excitedly pushed my hand down her knickers to check it out :) My other girlfriends haven’t opted for anything more than trimming, so I was surprised to learn it was so widespread now (if you’ll pardon the term)

      I do reject the idea that depilation is anything to do with trying to appear juvenile…

  45. Hurrah for you! Bloody brilliant. Am about halfway to where I want to be re. my relationship with body hair, in that I’ve happily had lovely sexy time with people when natural but am not wearing everything I want to wear out in public while same. I want it to be a choice too, like the old makeup analogy you make, but since we’ve got a very different problem with enforced de-fuzzing I feel like I want to go further and stomp out fully-furred to undermine the culture. Anyway, thanks for a great read.

  46. I love this post and all the comments.

    I am a non-shaver on & off, depending on a few factors. In Winter I will usually leave my legs to be as they please, but when spring comes around I start to feel self-conscious about getting them out in public. I compromise by wearing rugby socks to my knees – I have never bothered with the hair on my upper legs, it’s quite fine, and soft. The giggles behind hands on the tube is what often pushes me to remove the hair.

    I think, as someone who has quite fine, sparse body hair, it’s a lot easier for me to go without removing it.

    I shave my armpits about once a week, they are not naturally very bushy and my down-belows are completely au-naturel. My boyfriend actually really likes it & I just buy swimmers that have a low-leg cut. Also – what an horrific chore removing and regrowing pubes is! Why? Whyyyyyyyyy do so many do it?

    However, I work as an actor and when in auditions or doing jobs I get extra self-conscious about my body hair, to the point where I have anxiety dreams where I’m given a skirt to wear and no tights and I have to run around and find a razor.

    So even though I vacillate between shaving and not, I don’t feel it’s a choice as when I do shave it’s because I feel I *should* because of work/being judged.

    The 13yr old feminists here are so wonderful. You all are. Bravo Vagenda.

  47. when I showed my girlfriend this topic, she thought it was a joke until I assured her otherwise, though she was still adamant she preferred to shave some parts. I must admit to being conflicted over the matter – I don’t even much like my own body hair, though I confine myself to shaving my face and armpits, and I’ve been told my furry coat is cute :) Personally, I prefer to see women with smooth legs and armpits and at least a trimmed bush, but I have no issue with them making other choices. There’s a difference between preference and prejudice…

  48. Similarly to some of the posters, I attempted not shaving my armpits but I do actually find that I smell a lot worse. Therefore I’ve taken to keeping them shaven. Legs I will do now and again when I feel like it but I don’t feel I have to. Sometimes I even do it when no one is going to see it in the same way sometimes I don’t do it when others are going to see my legs. Lady parts, I know some people are going to shoot me for saying this, but I kinda like the feeling when there is nothing there. Saying that, I still don’t feel pressured to do it, and will often leave it. I do, however, feel I have to trim it. But for me, I just feel a little cleaner.

    It’s also worth thinking about men and body hair. I don’t know about you but I’ve noticed a lot more men thinking about it. I live with a guy who shaves his body hair off just because he prefers how it looks and feels.

  49. Your posting in the Guardian couldn’t have come at a better time – it felt like a message specially for me!! After nurturing my hairy underarms over the winter (which I normally do during the darker days of the year), I finally decided to epilate in time for my appearance at my local pool. I did consider leaving it but I couldn’t do it. I felt self conscious and somewhat freakish. Having said that, I didn’t shave my legs and I now feel empowered to leave them untouched over the summer.

    Growing up in Malaysia, I didn’t experience the same kind of conditioning. My mother was a diligent underarm plucker but generally left her legs alone – so that’s what I’ve inherited. And thinking of May’s battle with hair issues at the 13, made me realise how crazy it is to think that I didn’t find out about vagina waxing till I was about 18! And even then, I didn’t believe it. I thought who put themselves through that kind of torture – I still maintain that opinion.

    So thank you Emer and other comment contributers; it feels good to know there other women out there who are comfortable in their own skin and hair!

    • Thank you Dippy! It’s so good to hear from other women who are working through their relationship with their body hair. Rock them legs!

  50. I’m a podium dancer. I shave when I feel like it – the rest of the time people have to deal with my hairy self in a pair of hotpants :)

  51. This is fine if you are caucasian. This woman is not really hairy in any real sense she just has cute fuzz. If you wanna see real hair then check out a Pakistani woman like myself after a month of no hair removal. Or a hispanic woman, or middle eastern, or majority of the non white world. That would shut you all up!

    • I don’t think I agree Uzi – I look nothing like the cute and fuzzy lady in the picture. I have MASSES of hair. I have more underarm hair than the two men I live with combined! I’m going to be on This Morning on Friday – so if you think you can out hair me, tune in. I bet you’ll be very surprised.

      But even if it was the case that I looked like the girl in the picture, I don’t think that I’d shut up about the pressure on women to shave. There’s nothing wrong with South Asian women’s unshaven underarms, or any women’s unshaven underarms. And that’s regardless of whether you’re flossy and blonde like the girl in the pic, or nurturing underarm chimps like me.

  52. Thanks for this article, i’ve read it multiple times and i love it (esp the image of feminist heaven – that’s just INSPIRED). If you do start a religion, i’m there

  53. I tried to shave when I was a wee little teenager but my skin is mad sensitive, and the rash looked worse than the hair, so I just plain quit (It’s been about twelve years now). Every six weeks or so (if I’m arsed) I wax off my armpit and leg hair. If it’s been five weeks and the weather is nice, I luckily don’t give a damn. I like how they feel smooth. I don’t mind how they look hairy.
    As for my pubes – I wax it all off about every six months. Some fellas are freaked out by the unwaxed ETN. Others are equally freaked out by the bald naked version. But I love novelty and it’s always a SURPRISE!

  54. HEY EMER!
    I want to email you but I don’t know how and couldn’t find any contact details on dis supa flash website. I really like the vagenda/you/this article, I am doing a little drawing/journalist project about girls and shaving and make up and would love to talk to you. Also i think i know someone who knows you but I’m not sure. also the short version this article is getting a bit big on the guardian website. nice. good job. congrats. I’m thrilled cause it totally needs to be seen.

  55. Bloody brilliant article, blog and discussions. Reigniting the feminist passion I had throughout uni, still a feminist of coursr but you don’t get to read much feminist viewpoints in the mainstream. Thank you Guardian for directing me here! Thank you also obviously for a brilliantly written & well researched article :)

  56. This is my question: do fresh sheets still feel as nice? I feel silly asking, but I really like the feeling of freshly shaved legs on nice fresh sheets. BUT! I also am getting back to going bra-less, at least outside of work, and chucking my razor is tempting. So – any decrease in clean bedsheets enjoyment?

  57. I’ve sent this fab blog to some of my depressed (much younger) single friends. Having had the luck to marry a man who wouldn’t have noticed if I shaved or not. But that was back in the day, and I was raised in the 70s when random girly grooming was considered supremely uncool. You are a goddess, Emer, goddess on.

  58. Excellent article. I’ve been there and done that. I now wax sporadically (I see no point in shaving. Like Homer Simpson, I grow a twelve o’clock shadow three seconds later). Neither my bf or i are remotely phased if I forget/can’t be bothered for several months at a time. Though I have to admit, I’m far less inclined to be seen au naturel in public these days. Frankly, I’m just not so young, slim and cute as I used to be (and as you are!). I wouldn’t get away with it so well!
    The conclusion I came to after over ten years of no depilation (and which you seem to have come to, but with different words) is that I am happy to make myself more beautiful if I feel like it. What used to depresses me and make my life miserable was striving to be less ugly every day of my life. There’s an important difference.
    good luck :-)

  59. I’ve read further comments now, and see that you the author are not the girl in the picture! That’s kind of misleading. I choose to believe you are young and cute in any case :-)
    and btw, good god, this site is hard to use! I’ve had to be *really* determined to leave a message!

  60. Sorry, don’t mean to be stalkerish with my persistant commenting, but I also wanted to say: Every time I read the comments on a blog I end up shaking my head in sadness and horror, wondering why I bothered, and losing faith in the human race… This is the first time that hasn’t happened. The comments on here are great :-)

  61. elwoody, I agree about the difficulty of posting, and given that I am using my Google account to post you’d think it only needed to confirm I was human the one time – and the way replies can be attached to old posts makes it hard to keep up with everything happening – though of course this is out of the control of The Team!

    If you want to see Emer I understand she’s on Good Morning on ITV Friday (4 May) at 10.30am :)

  62. Thanks so much all you feminist gems (ooh nice assonance) for these lovely replies. I have to agree with Elwoody – this comment thread is amazing; it’s warm, opinionated, thought-provoking, and productive. Let’s MAKE feminist heaven (without Simone de Beauvoir obvs, she’s dead already – but I’m sure Bikini Kill, Monty Python and Judith Butler would be game).

  63. oh and I think Emer would contest your “make myself more beautiful if I feel like it.” by saying that being hairy has its own natural beauty, though I must admit I’m still struggling with that but am willing to be won over…

  64. Ah, but I’m not necesarily talking about hair there, Simon! I’m talking about all the other girly stuff I’m ‘expected’ to do: wearing make up, ‘nice’, ie uncomfortable and impractical clothes, painting my nails – that kind of thing. Which I do very seldom. I am now 38. I still have all the same make up I bought when I was 13. Most of it isn’t half empty. I think I finished one lipstick once. Oh, and maybe an eyeliner pencil.
    The important thing is the mental shift from, “God I’m hideous, people can’t see me in my natural state. I need to do all these expensive, time-consuming, painful, soul-destroying things before I can even leave the house and not be pelted with rotten veg…” to “I’m okay as I am, but today I feel like making an effort.”
    Time is actually one of the most important factors. Every time I consider doing my legs I tend to think, “Or, I could read a book for 30 minutes…” No contest! :-)

  65. Hi Emer, this is Pierre from Belgium, I’m a profeminist man, sorry for my basic English.
    Thank you for what you do, this is really great. It made me think about Shazia Mirza, back in 2007.
    Have you heard about Anji’s blog ? She made a paper about body hair

    http://shutupsitdown.wordpress.com/2008/04/07/the-politics-of-body-hair/

    She said something very important

    I once spoke with a woman on this very subject – her male partner had expressed his distaste for her pubic hair. It looked messy, he had said, it was unhygienic and he ‘just preferred’ the look of a woman’s genitals shaved (a preference borne, no doubt, from the normalisation of baldness in both pornography and ‘mainstream’ media). “I don’t get it,” she wondered, bemused. “Why on earth would he want to feel like he was having sex with a little girl rather than the grown woman I am?”

    Grown women are, after all, meant to have hair on their armpits, vulva and legs. There is nothing ‘unnatural’ about a hairy woman; if there were then the hair would not grow there in the first place. Likewise, there is nothing ‘unfeminine’ about a hairy woman; if femininity is defined as ‘like a woman’ then a woman in her natural state is by definition as feminine as she can be. Indeed, one could say it is the hairless woman who is ‘less feminine’, as she removes parts of her natural, womanly body.

    Facial hair is a taboo but what do you think about breast hair ?

    BTW, some people who have seen your pictures on some sites say that your armpit hair is fake. Am I missing something ?

    For those who understand French, I’ve created a site about female body hair in a feminist point of view

    http://pgriffet.voila.net

    Cheers

  66. I find the “it’s natural” argument weak when so much of the rest of our lives has moved away from raw nature – and for that matter one might argue that it’s natural for humans to engineer their environment! I prefer to characterise the matter as one of informed choice…

  67. I’ve successfully put in complaints at work against a male colleague who relentless made “jokes” about my hairy pits. I was quite pleasantly surprised to be taken seriously, but it was nice to be told “that’s not acceptable” by management.

    The worst comment I’ve ever had about my body hair was from a bearded man in public, whilst I was reaching to pick up something from a supermarket shelf, and was swiftly followed by the best comeback I’ve ever given…

    “Eurgh, what’s that on your arm pit? Gross!”
    “Same as what’s on your face dickhead, EURGH, GROSS!”

    I’m very proud of that one =)

  68. Well done on Ray Darcy this morning Emer – what a ledgebag! Some seriously mean comments from listeners but I’m sure you’re well used to that crap. I’m trying to bring Irish body image activists together so we can unite to challenge the bullshit. At the moment we’re pretty much a Facebook page but we have lots of awesome things planned. I know you’re in London these days but give us a shout if you feel like getting involved in Ireland. Cheers, Dee
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Endangered-Bodies-Ireland/240757395980038

  69. I am SO excited about a young woman getting stuck into this debate. I remember listening to some radio documentary a few years back about women and their body hair, and was shocked by the 0 number of young women who just let their bodies be. Out of 100 women I think 1 didn’t shave or wax, and she was in her 40s.

    I haven’t shaved in years now – I’m not 40, but just a year away. And I love my hair – all of it. My underarm hair is really soft, lovely to stroke. When I used to shave there my skin looked – and felt – like plucked chicken skin. Now it is so so lovely and soft there! My leg hair is fabulous and diverse, all soft and light at the back, lovely furry brush at the front, again so soft to stroke. I am more comfortable in jeans, but I do femme up whenever I feel like it, do wear skirts and make-up and the whole shebang, and I reckon my legs look just fine. I also love love love my pubic hair. I feel like it protects all my luscious bits, I love how my hair feels there, all springy and alive. I waxed once, oh my fucking goddess what pain! Why women do that, regularly, I have no idea. And from that one wax, I bled bad in one place, and I still have a ripple where she ripped the skin. Just another reason to love my bush, all as it is. No more plucked chicken skin. And no looking (disturbingly) like a child – I can’t abide the infantilisation. Nope – just me, being me.

    I really love beautiful things, I love comfort and soft skin. I think hair is beautiful. Well, I think my own hair is beautiful – my partner’s too. I don’t smell any more than I did before – and hey, I like the way I smell anyways. I think you can’t over-estimate how powerful it is, particularly in this culture that is so negatively prescriptive of how women should look and act and be, to be a woman and love your own body.

    I started growing my hair as a feminist act, because the personal is the political. But it’s no chore at all to keep it all growing, because I truly no longer think body hair on women is ugly. On the contrary, I think about all that time I used to spend shaving in the shower – now I’ve got it all back. And we only get one life – why waste it on hating bits of your own body so much you think you need to remove it – continuously – forever. Where is the joy in that?

    Good stuff Emer, fabulous to kick start the debate again!

    cheers
    Darlene

    • Darlene, I read your whole comment while nodding and muttering ‘sista got sense.’ Women are engaged in an interminable, life-long assault on their bodies – bodies deemed trangressive and disgusting by virtue of existing. Where’s the fecking fun in that? Let loose with yo’ underarm moose and get debating! x

  70. You Go girl! i really hope more ppl will use there mind , Spacialy when it come to the actions that represent the person even if its the mose obvious behaviors. enough with the feminine slavery to appearance .

    Thank u for the inspiration and the courage .

  71. my hat is way way off to you. i shave in the summertime but not the winter, and yes i’m shy showing my hairs. but every person who does it boldly as you do makes it easier for the rest of us. i salute you!

  72. We should have an armpit-hair version of Movember! It would be a great way to start making visible body hair commonplace (so less-confident ladies can claim, “well, it’s just for charity” before coming to love a razor-free life). It could also be a great way of raising funds for the wealth of female charities that desperately need support.

    Who do we call to make this happen?!

  73. I was always criticised by both husbands and boyfriends (yes, I’m an older woman so have had both) for having too little pubic hair! I never shaved (perish the thought of a razor blade so near my clitoris!) and find pubic hair to be a wonderfully erogenous zone, which no one seems to have mentioned here.

  74. @susannah, I confirm that pubic hair is an erogenous zone but armpit hair also ! Licking armpits can be very erotic, I have tested and it’s amazing. ;)

  75. Wonderful post! I’ve recently decided to put the razor blade down for a number of reasons. Takes some time getting used to looking down and seeing hair everywhere, but I have realized that there’s something about having hair that is so sensual and electrifying when your skin is rubbed.

    I wonder who decided it should be commonplace for women to remove hair from everywhere but their heads in the first place. Did someone say naked mole rat?

  76. aside from the horribleness of it being expected, and of men not being expected to do anything similar, i find the whole waxing/shaving thing (pubic particularly) just so absurd! lying down in a salon, making the friendliest of gestures to the ‘beauty technician’ (?!), listening to some sort of super soothing salon muzak, as the lovely lady ripsthefuckinghairoffofyourmostsensitivehairybits! over and over!

    oh the time i have spent thinking of whether i ought to do this again. that really is one of the things that i hate most – to spend time doing this and thinking about it is a serious waste of brain power. oh the boys who have expected it, and the lovely ones who haven’t. i’ve thought of arguments for the sensuousness of it, and perhaps all bald and bared would feel nicer to kiss, but it looks bizarre, and i feel weird with it, which frankly takes a lot out of the experience. had a lovely boyfriend of two years who didn’t mind a bit, and was especially delighted in fact when he noticed one day that my pretty pubics grew in a heart-shape (they really do!). i would, if a guy or a gay doll, think it most exciting to see how a lady’s lady bit curlies grew! they can be ever so lovely and wild.

    and the most important thing, – for me sex feels better with hair. something about friction or something methinks, and which is what a biology teacher may have said once. the hair servers a good and mighty function! hair hair!

    the way it looks, little-girly, and the thinness so very much a la mode give me a feeling that a really big part of the feminine beauty industry is about making us weaker. weak little things, obsessed with stupid things.

    and finally, that nivea ad. it gives my sister great joy – in south africa it’s dubbed to boot:

    lady in white bikini: “what is your favourite part of my body”
    chiseled bro: “your pits” (well, he strokes them, smiling the smile of armpit-worshiping serenity. they are of course shaved).

    on the flipside: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64sHZhIB7HA.

    thanks so much emer!

    • Helen,
      My name is Joe, and I can’t help but to praise your fantastic attitude that you have grown to accept what beautiful nature provides all women! I am an extremely enlighten male from a very young age who reached your same conclusion when I and my female classmates went through the change of budding underarm hair! I would highly recommend you read my blog at this link below. Thanks, and send me your comments.

      http://www.experienceproject.com/stories/Love-Hairy-Women/2477916

  77. This is totally brilliant and commendable and thank you for writing it Emer! It is a mark of the collective insanity of our world that, in spite of revolutions and multiple crises, it is STILL big news that 12 years ago an American actress went out once with hairy armpits.

  78. Thank you!!! You are my hero!!

    I too was told to shave by my mother and here’s the trick. I’m Italian. My hair, EVERYWHERE, is super, super thick. The hairs are dark, deep, wide, and strong. It took 4 passes the first time to get all the hair. The result was intensely irritated skin. I looked like I had gotten poison ivy. It was incredibly uncomfortable so I said right then and there SCREW THIS!!

    Mom tried to convince me otherwise, giving me the bullshit line that it only does that the first few times and your skin gets used to it and yada yada yada. Well, it didn’t. It kept hurting. So we tried shaving creme for sensitive skin, hair removal creams, all kinds of alternatives and STILL I suffered.

    So I just stopped. I’m 31 now and have only shaved a few times in my life, such as when I know I’m going to be in full public view like hanging out at a crowded swimming pool or whatnot. I’ve never liked dresses or shorts or skirts anyway, always preferred jeans so I didn’t even have to change my wardrobe.

    My only wish is that someday I can wear a dress or bathing suit without shaving and not be looked at as a freak.

  79. Love this post.
    I was a Freshman in high school when I first met a girl who refused to shave. I had just flayed the crap out of my leg shaving (I still have the scar), and she told me she hadn’t shaved in years. My mind was blown, and it was like she’d given me permission to stop shaving too.
    Despite that, I still feel really uncomfortable going out in public fuzzy-legged. It’s weird how my years of feminism can’t seem to overcome my years of being told my fuzz was disgusting. Weird.

  80. I quite recently decided to stop shaving, this article sums up many of the reasons I did it and I’m probably going to send it on over to people when they ask how I could possibly do such a thing! Wonderful :)

  81. “In my experience, men like women who challenge social norms and ask them to do the same.”

    Not really, no. I mean, some men do, but the main reason we support the hair cause is because we always prefer women natural. We don’t like epilation, we don’t like high heels, we don’t really like make-up and we most certainly hate when you go on fucking diets to look thinner.
    Just my two cents…

  82. I read this article, and saw the blonde delicately haired arm pits of the woman in the photo and thought, yes, I could maybe do that. I then googled the armpits of women with darker hair (like myself) and was….dare i say…. disgusted, awkward, and thought, what the hell is this reaction i’m having? I still had this reaction even after I loved reading the article, and your plight, so much. So i’m confronting that reaction, and I’ve gone for it.

    I’m now nearly 2 months into my experiment and have actually been surprised that seeing my arm pit hair is very exciting! it is very soft and I have delighted in showing it off to people to say “hey, yes its making you awkward, but its mine! deal with it!” (I proudly said donning my maxi dress in the pub). Reactions have been mixed, my grandma, bless her, was horrified. I gently reminded her that she once wasn’t allowed to wear trousers, and that in 2012 I can now knit mine out of my own pubic hair. I would say that 90% of people have asked me if I smell more (sort of as a programmed response to seeing it I think), and then a lot of people have asked me if they can feel it, and said they respect it. The legs I’ve found much harder, and cracked, and shaved, which surprised me. They are a fight for a different year perhaps.

    I currently work in a secondary school, and have yet to get the fluffy slipper pits out with the 11-16 year old crew. When I can do this, as some sort of re-claiming of my own teenage self, I can sign the experiment off, and decide if the pits are here to stay, which I think, they just might be, so thank you!

    Jenny

  83. Hi Emer, I’m from Irish women’s website Her.ie, & I’d love to interview you if I could? What’s the best way of contacting you?
    Thanks, all the best,
    Roe

  84. I envy your courage. I refuse to shave because I like my body the way it is and I also don’t like to harm the environment for no reason at all. But I have never let anyone see it. Well, actually I had one boyfriend since I stopped shaving (I’m single now–also not related to the hair). He had no problem with it at all and kind of liked what it said about me. But no one else has seen it. But my problem is a) I live in America, where I imagine it’s worse than the UK because, well, it was our idiotic capitalists that got women to start shaving in the first place. And b) I am MUCH hairier than you are. I’m actually about as hairy as your average man because I have a hormone imbalance that made me that way. So… I feel like there really is no way I could ever do what you did, but I wish I could!

  85. I found this blog by google searching images of “females with body hair.” Your picture was at the top of the list. I skipped it at first because all I could see was your goofy face and armpit hair. Don’t get me wrong, at this point it’s the only picture I’ve seen of you, if this IS you, and I think you’re cute. But when I began reading your blog I honestly started thinking, “where can I find her?!” So I read further, and I decided to type this response in hopes that you and Mr. Awesome weren’t working out, so I could spark a digital love connection and travel accross the globe on an adventurous hairy love quest. Silly me.

    When I was 14 or 15, I hung out with some “hippie” kids from a distant village and the girls in the group didn’t shave. It was foriegn to me because every girl I knew shaved. Even my mom you know, so yea. One of the girls had a crush on me and she hugged me once. I smelled her body odor and to my surprise it was quite attractive. Pheremones or something…

    I passed out in her room on the floor one night after drinking and smoking some less than legal substances, and I woke up to a lamp in the wee hours with a strange feeling. I glanced up at her futon bed and she was laying there, eyes wide, and smirk faced with a space made open beside her. She was staring at the extra pillow, and I felt like she wanted my head there, among other places…

    I was a cute long-haired kid, and she was a cute, long, hairy girl, but I didn’t make the move. Too young I was to be smooth, and I was a bit intimidated thinking about her arm-pits and the implied size of her former president. Kidding, although I was a late bloomer. I often think about that night, and just now I’m wondering how my adolescence may have been effected had I climbed aboard.

    Since then I’ve been in relationships, and been wed and dissolved, and I’ve recently recognized my own issues concerning the abtrusive physcological affliction of seemingly bottomless superficial insecurity that some women as well as some men go through in this time of great confusion on Earth. I have many theories.

    I hope you hang in there with this natural idealism, and that Mr. Awesome really is Mr. Awesome. Shave when you want if you want, and fly past the conflicted ideas that may have spawned from one or many powerful and fearful minds. Whatever you do, just be real, be comfortable, and you’ll stay beautiful!

    Wait, is this picture really you?

  86. Good on you. I once commented on how beautiful a woman’s eye brows were (rich but not tufty), the next time I saw her she had a couple of pencil lines – wish I’d kept my mouth shut!

  87. I stopped shaving last year when I found it too uncomfortable to reach my legs while pregnant, and haven’t started again. I too realised; why do us women have to shave and men don’t? …especially seeing as mens facial hair can sometimes be really uncomfortable for their partners. This summer I have not once shaved and have let my hairy legs roam the streets free for everyone to see, but most people don’t notice as they are not at eye level. I have been more self conscious about pit hair and have only worn sleeveless tops when I know I won’t be having to do things with my child which involves exposing them for the world to see (singing the Grand Old Duke of York at the children’s centre and holding him up in the air when they march to the top of the hill). As for going to the beach and swimming – once you’re in the sea or the pool no one is going to see anything except your head bobbing up and down, and sitting on the beach everyone mostly has their own things to do/distractions, so who cares?

  88. I love this! I have unshaven armpits which I love, but I prefer my legs and pubes closely cropped. I think hair on underarms is provocative, sexy and challenging to more homogeneous men and women.

  89. God, I loved reading this article. As a 16-year-old lady, who about 4 years ago, said “screw it”, I can totally relate. I felt that it was a completely sexist double-standard that women are expected to be hairless, and men to not be. Being the age that I am, a lot of my “peers” find it disgusting. My general response is simply, “It’s not your body. You have no right to have opinions about it. Deal.” It usually shuts them up. I mean, I’ve gone through puberty, and that’s not something I’m scared to show. I don’t care for the pre-pubescent look that most women strive for, and the fact that we are expected to modify our bodies to be “accepted” by society is pretty fucked up. So I say, be natural! It’s beautiful & sexy & liberating.

  90. I’m loving all of this hair love. Due to Middle Eastern genes and PCOS, I have several times the amount of body hair the average woman does and coming from a background that encourages hair to be gone otherwise you’re unfanciable/unmarriagable etc, I have decided what I will and won’t do. That does mean threading for my facial hair (because I still can’t forget the taunts from boys at school and still feel unconfident with it) and I wax my legs every month (because shaving irritates my skin) and every so often, shave under my arms, but it’s not massively important. I’m fascinated by body hair (despite being taunted by one of the guys at school who shouted at me to go home and shave my legs once) and ignore my mum when she makes comments about women’s hairy legs. She was sugaring from a young age so I can’t expect her to reverse her opinion overnight. I also refuse to curb my lady garden much, an occasional trim here and there but it is firmly staying where it is. Hair is fun

  91. Thank you, Emer, thank you so much.
    I’m a 19 year-old girl and I didn’t shave my legs till I was 17, becouse I really don’t see the point of it. I started letting my hair grow again last summer, and I’m really really glad I did it: now I can look at myself at the mirror and not think “you surrendered, you coward…”. But, as you say, social pressure is really strong, and It is always nice to see that you’re not alone, that there are more people who think like you, who don’t think that you are a freak…

    P.S.: I’m sorry for my English, I’m Spanish and I haven’t studied English since High School.

    P.P.S: The e-mail account is my boyfriend’s, becouse I don’t have a Gmail one; he showed me this page. :)

  92. I like your attitude! I´m from Germany and there`s almost every girl shaved. When I started to stop shaving in 7th grade I was mobbed till I shaved my legs again. That was so crappy! Why can`t people just accept it if a girl has some hairs on her legs?! My girlfriends even say sometimes “Shit! I have forgotten to shave my legs. Can you see much hairs?” And I always think “Why do you whine?! Your hairs are more thin, brighter and less than mine. Apart from that, where are there hairs?! Don`t make such a drama!” I think when people say hairs are disgusting, something in their mind went wrong. There is no reason why hairs are that.
    Another thing: I hate it when boys shave their hairs, I think this is unattractive. I nearly convinced my girlfriends that boys shaving heir body are unmasculine and my boyfriends already have the same opinion.

  93. I havent shaved in 3 years. I started in grade 12 when I was began to harbour bitter gender identity thoughts. Im still proud of my choice, even though I had little support. I live in a small town and it has been a struggle to not think of what everyone thinks.

    This read has definitely uplifted my spirits. Thank you.

  94. Thank you so much for this! I haven’t shaved my legs in about two years (so two summers with hairy legs!) & I only occasionally trim the hair under my arms. I don’t shave my armpits anymore because like you, I hated the razer burn and the fact that the hair grows so fast.

    I really appreciated reading that it took you a long time to really get comfortable with yourself unshaved. It truly is a psychological battle but I have honestly come out the other side a much happier woman. My husband loves my natural hair; he wishes I wouldn’t tweeze my eyebrows. But honestly, I tried letting my eyebrows grow naturally, and I don’t like the way it looks.

    Here’s to being the only woman in our yoga classes with leg and pit hair! We are the trailblazers! :D

  95. This is brilliant. I have never ever ever once in my life shaved any of my body hair ever. I am 18 years old. I get a lot of shit for it – but I am so used to it that it doesn’t bother me anymore – I often go out baring legs and armpits. Yes, you get some funny comments, but in the end, the best people, the most open minded, are supportive – and these are the friends you want to have. I know. It’s stupidly unusual for an 18 year old girl to be this confident with her body. But there are always exeptions that we can turn into majorities

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  97. Love love love your replies to the blogpost, amazing to read! I stopped shaving pits and legs (personally prefer tidy bits) one and a half year ago, and close friends questioned it and a male friend actually got upset because of it. Like I was pushing his face into my hairy pit with my un-feminine being. My previous bf couldn’t care less though when I stopped, and neither does my current bf. One thing I found the weirdest was my mom’s reaction, she looked horrified one day I came home for summer with hairy legs. The latter I found so strange because, hell, she said “I’m glad you are doing what you want” when I went abroad to study something so un-like our family history; photography! She is used to it now, but I wish that she would be proud that I am not supporting the notion that there is only one way to be (beautiful). I just became an auntie, and I will definitely make sure that she knows that she has a choice when growing up.

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