The summer before sixth grade, my mom told me that it was maybe time to start shaving my underarms and my legs to prepare for summer weather. It hadn’t occurred to me before that I had hair there before, or that it was something I would need to worry about. Even so, my hair was blonde at the time (as I was and am unbelievably WASPy).
So I shaved my legs. I went up to the knee, as my mom told me to do. I was perfectly content to do this for a while. It was minimal work for an adolescent, and as Linda Belcher said, “Only strippers shave above the knee. The good ones, anyway.”
As my middle school friends and I exchanged our stories of awkward self-discovery, stories I was probably more candid about than I should have been, I was beginning to internalize that everyone had body hair, and it all needed to be shaved. We tried products like Smooth Away and proudly lotioned our legs (soft but scabby from razor nicks of inexperience) with Bath and Body Works scents in the P.E. locker room. Girls who weren’t shaving their legs yet? Ew. Social outcasts.
I did not shave my legs in moderation. I made it a routine, no matter how long it took or how many times I cut myself trying.) I became addicted to how smooth and feminine I felt. This was what being a woman was like. The one thing that bothered me was the one line of hair between my knee and my thigh, so I blew right past it during one fateful shower. I could hear my mother telling me, “It’s just gonna grow back faster. You’ll have to do it forever.” And so began my curse.
I can’t remember when or why I looked down at my forearms to discover that they were covered in long, dark hair- much darker than the dirty blonde color on my head. All I know is that afterwards I started looking at everyone else’s. Most girls (and many boys) didn’t appear to have any arm hair at all. I was a freak, a gorilla, a monster. I fought the impulse to shave my arms but swore off t-shirts and tank tops for about a month. (Eventually my sweat outweighed my insecurity.)
The burden of my body hair kept piling on. I became an obsessive eyebrow plucker, lip waxer, and bikini area shaver (even with the unsightly bumps). My mom noticed maybe two whiskers growing on my chin; I now spend fifteen minutes staring in the mirror with a pair of tweezers daily. That strip of hair under the bellybutton that men have? Yeah, me too- I shave it every time I think I’m going to be baring some ‘driff. (I’m hoping that slang for “baring your midriff” catches on.)
A big factor that contributed to dying my hair from blonde to brown was the possibility of looking more “normal” if my head hair matched my body hair. That’s how addicted I am.
You may be wondering, “Kait, why the hell did I just read about how hairy you are? You seriously didn’t have to publish any of this on the internet. Nobody would have noticed if you hadn’t said anything.”
Well, reader, I happen to like airing out my insecurities on a public forum. I believe that there are other beautiful women who have beautiful bodies that have beautiful body hair and may spend 14 hours every summer Googling hair removal remedies.
Hey, hairy ladies! I am one of you. I love you. I am here for you. We are not unsightly or mannish. We are gorgeous. We are normal. We don’t have to wax our lip every month or shave our legs every day. We are hot as hell and we deserve love. And if someone tells you otherwise, they’re simply incorrect.
Don’t remove your hair. Or remove it. Do whatever you want. You deserve it, and the people who love you will still love you no matter how prickly you are.