Body Hair and Shaving

The other night I had a long discussion with a big group of people about the trials and tribulations of body hair.

I was at a party in the house where I used to live, a place full of activists, hippies, and misanthropes. I really loved living there, but I moved out to have my own room for my last year in college.

In the room with me were two men who both have beards and two other girls. We all hated shaving.

One of the guys, T, has a very full beard and he admitted that the biggest reason it's so impressive is that he just doesn't like to shave. It's not so much of a fashion statement as a rebellion against taking a blade to his face every day. A, too, didn't like shaving but happily trims his beard.

The other girls weren't big fans of the razor or its accompanying burns, nicks, and bumps, either. R has blond hair on her legs and so it's not a big deal when she doesn't shave them. She doesn't have to feel too self-conscious, despite the social pressure to have smooth legs.

I hate shaving, too, but I have to do it every time I work, which these days is twice a week. Because my club serves alcohol, it's actually illegal for me to show any pubic hair on stage. If I don't get rid of it all, it'll peek out from under the tiny g-strings we have to wear.

Whenever I shave my bush, I get ingrown hairs. There's just no getting around it. I've tried everything, various razors and shaving products, and it's just a fact of my life. It's not as bad if I can let it grow out for a couple of weeks in between shaves, but I don't have that option with work. If I shave twice within five days, I also get lots of little nicks and it's very uncomfortable. This is just an occupational hazard that I've had to get used to.

My body hair in general is dark and coarse and thick. I have been trying, recently, to be more comfortable with my unshaven legs, but it's still hard. I still think of my body hair as manly, and while I don't mind being a little androgynous, I do like to be feminine and pretty. I feel like people will think less of me for my hairy legs.

But I hate shaving, and I will do as I please when it comes to grooming and presenting myself. It's really silly and awful and arbitrary that women are expected to have no noticeable body hair. I mean, we're humans, it's part of our anatomy. It's just as natural on us as it is on men.

Where did that expectation even come from? Even as a gender studies major and a raging feminist, I have no idea when it started or why. Hmm, that is definitely something to look into. I'll let you know when I find out.


Michael Halila said...

Please do, because I'm also definitely interested. I'm not that old, but this whole antipathy to all body hair has definitely come about during my lifetime, because I don't understand it.

One place to observe the trend is Playboy. In the last issue, they had a multi-page photo spread of "college girls"; all of them were shaved. Their letters page and the Playboy Advisor regularly print items on shaving; either letters from men who disapprove of non-shaved Playmates (rare enough anyway) or even, in the Advisor, letters on how men should shave their privates.

I find this all completely insane, yet it's not totally unknown on this side of the pond either. If you find anything out, share!

Max said...

I love a hairy woman, with a hairy pussy and a hairy asshole. I always let my lovers know it's not a big deal, but society gets to them sooner or later and shave they all do.

Unknown said...

I'm working on a post about the history of body hair in the U.S., but it's taking me a while because I want to do it right. You know, use traceable sources and all of that.

And good for you , max. I mean, everyone has their preference but it is harder to want something that goes against what's considered "normal" at the time. I prefer it when a woman's not shaved bare, too. Stubble is scratchy!

Anonymous said...

When I saw Amanda Palmer perform in NYC over the summer, I thanked her for not shaving her armpits.

Unknown said...

Love Amanda Palmer. And her hairy armpits.

On living, loving, learning, and fucking with the materials I've got at hand.

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