When I was in the fifth grade, getting ready to make my transition over to middle school, a boy came up to me at the water fountain, telling me I needed to shave my mustache. My buck-toothed, twelve-year-old self gave an uncomfortable, “Heh heh,” covered my face, and kept it moving, completely at a loss for words. From that point on, I was self-conscious about not only my facial hair but hair all over my body. I began to notice that girls shaved their legs while my legs resembled that of the boys around me. When I would ask my friends, they would say, “Oh, you having started shaving yet?” or “Just ask your mom to buy you a razor!” like it was the simplest thing in the world, not knowing that particular world was utterly foreign to me. This was the beginning of my personal loathing surrounding the idea of having body hair because of the isolation I felt when I was in middle school.
This isn’t supposed to be a sob story. Being where I am now and looking back at this situation and this boy, who I’m positive did not even mean it in a mean way, I see the whole thing as nothing short of hilarious. We are almost two whole months into 2018, and I have not shaved my legs since 2017 simply because I do not want to. But I am not going to act like I don’t care about the hair on my body. To this day, I still shave because that’s what I feel like I have to do. I can sit here and say it’s because I am doing it for myself, but it’s not just that. I do care about what others think about the amount of hair on my body. From an early age, we, as girls, are expected to conform to certain molds of how we are supposed to look. Of course, now there is this wave of self-love and a certain amount of awareness behind the toxicity of these expectations, but I will leave it to you to decide if some are just joining the wave for looks without actually believing it.
To me, it seems like the only hair society wants girls to have is the hair coming from our scalps and our eyebrows. No one really says anything about arm hair, but I have heard situations in which girls with hairy arms are ridiculed. Leg hair and armpit hair follow arm hair on the taboo spectrum, especially in the summer months when girls want to wear their legs and arms out. And finally, the area that reigns supreme on the “don’t talk about it” side of the spectrum is pubic hair. This is the real kicker. Considering people still can’t seem to say the word “vagina” openly without making someone uncomfortable shows how taboo anything surrounding the female genitals is.
Girls are shamed for not being completely bare down there and for being considered dirty if they don’t want to shave. If I see one more Nair commercial trying to persuade me to have a silky-smooth bikini line pop up on my tv screen, I might chuck my TV out of the window. Society seems to approve of girls looking prepubescent in that area, even if it is not natural, and, hear me out, even if we are no longer prepubescent. *gasp*
Because female pubic hair is so taboo, especially for teenage girls who are already struggling with their self confidence, we are unaware of the repercussions that can occur by stripping our bodies of its natural tendencies. No one wants to talk about it; therefore, unless we as women decide to educate ourselves better on the matter, we will remain uninformed about our own bodies. Many don’t know that it can be easier to get infections and rashes if remove our hair. For those who shave with razors, razor bumps can cause in grown hairs. And for women who don’t shave, constantly putting Nair on your vagina is not good because of all of the chemicals. Everyone is supposed to have hair on our private areas for a reason, but so many girls don’t know that because no one took the time to tell them. It is not emphasized in sex ed, as I believe it should be. It’s just completely swept under the rug, even when body hair really does contribute to a girl’s level of confidence.
I’m not saying that if you decide to shave your whole body that this is necessarily a bad thing, but I am not saying it’s necessarily a good thing either. Whether or not I agree with you choosing to shave your own body does not hold that much meaning because, at the end of the day, it is your body. I am not going to shame you for how you choose to keep it. However, I do believe that there should be less of a declaration of war against girls and women who decide that they don’t want to shave any part of their body. People need to understand that our body hair in general, not just pubic hair, is there for a reason. There shouldn’t be any shame placed on the shoulders of girls, who choose to go against a grain that shouldn’t even exist. Because as a collective at this point in time, our culture is telling girls growing into their bodies that hairy is scary, and that is simply not the case.