As satisfying as it is picking ingrown hairs, that curl laid dormant like a tadpole in its gooey spawn sack let loose, it’s not worth going through the shaving/plucking/waxing rigmarole every day/week/month (delete as appropriate).
In the last seven years, I have removed my leg hair twice – once for someone else’s wedding and once for my own. Because I wanted to. What’s weird though is that I realised that it still took me years to wear my bare legs out in public and to come to terms with, so to speak, my own hairy legs. I’ve only recently understood how weird that is. Why did I instinctively revolt myself even though I knew the reasons behind my choice and even though it was my own hair?
I’ll be honest and say this is not for some big statement – I am very specific about where I focus my energies, AKA I’m lazy. Not only did it take time and effort to shave my legs, but I would invariably miss some and there would inevitably be ingrown hairs and a five o’clock shadow. Waxing and hair removal cream was really not much better. What was the point if I was only going to look Venus smooth for less than a day? So, I stopped.
One of my flatmates when I was 20 wore her body hair like a statement and seeing it there in front of me every day helped me overcome my deep internal views about body hair on women. When does this even start? When does this shame and disgust begin? Was it when I counted the first pubes and saw this new thing taking over the surface of my body? Was it when my mother bought me my first razor? Was it even before all this, surrounded by impossibly smooth images of women? And why did I ever ever shave my pubic area? I wince now to think of the time I accidentally clipped a labia with a pair of scissors just trying to trim and I shudder when I recall the horrendous itching when the hair grows back.
And what about the hair that’s still taboo to talk about? Nipple hair, facial hair, tummy hair! Women have it. Some more than others. Lassies, dinnae fash yersel aboot yer hairs that ye hink are in the wrang places – they’re no – they’re yer hair and that’s just whaur it is.
Men have shame over body hair too. Not enough hair (not manly enough), hair in the wrong places (not aesthetically pleasing), too much hair (ungroomed)… My husband has a monobrow. He’s been plucking it or having the barber take it off for years until last year. This is something he cannot cover, unlike my legs. When he stopped last year I watched the growth with fascination; if I believe that all body hair on all bodies should be normalised then I must include this but again it initially went against my conditioned feelings.
Now, as companies do, they alter their adverts to appeal to society and to show how relevant and cool they are. It seems backwards that a company selling hair removal devices should have an advert where women choose to keep body hair, but that’s what some of them are doing! They are reminding us that it is a choice. GOOD! It is a choice. You can keep or remove your body hair for any reason, but let’s please start normalising all body hair on all bodies.
Let your hairy legs and pits and face be freeee!
Finally, I just want to give a sincere apology to all of my body parts and my body hair that I have hurt and shamed in the past. I love you and I love all of you.