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Women Have Body Hair – Get Over It

A little over a year ago, in winter of 2019, I did what many others do when the cold season rolls around: grow out my leg hair. We all do it. Winter comes around and, with the fleece-lined leggings and thick stockings, all reasons for shaving just go right out the door; nobody would see the hair anyway, right?

But then, as winter came to an end, and things began warming up again, quarantine began, and those reasons to shave just didn’t come back. What would usually be a summer of swimsuits and sun, became one of baking and whipped coffee drinks, all in the comfort of my home where, again, nobody would be looking at my legs or arms. So I just didn’t shave. I didn’t shave my legs or my underarms and I was entirely happy doing so! I felt almost relieved to be skipping the chore that I’d known since middle school. 

However, on the rare occasions where I did find myself leaving the house, I ended up hyper aware of my hair. I swear I’d catch strangers glancing down, or the eyes of passersby darting back and forth between my face and my underarms. My hair was nothing that should be particularly disarming, but for some reason it was as if it was a spectacle to those around me — at least that’s what it felt like.

I knew, on occasion, this fear was just in my own head, but what came after that initial paranoia was the questioning. Why did I care about this anyway? Even when nobody was looking, why did I feel like I had given them a reason to be?

This worrying is the effect of women constantly being held to a higher standard, and, frankly, I’m over it.

We don’t owe anyone stubble-free legs the same way we don’t owe anyone a face full of makeup and perfectly coiffed hair. It’s just not realistic! We shouldn’t have to be smooth infants or hairless cats all the time, and if that’s what you’re waiting for, it’s never going to happen.

Despite this painfully obvious fact that, yes, women have body hair, our possession of such a thing has only grown into a source of shame and embarrassment. Body hair has become so linked to other negative traits that one would think it is dangerous to even think of having it. 

Showcasing body hair on women is not just excluded in today’s media either. Looking at some of the most famous art pieces, it seems the concept is foreign even to esteemed artists of the past. Take “The Birth of Venus,” for example. Painted in the mid-1480s, the painting has become synonymous with beauty and grace, a symbol of love and divinity both now and then. Something missing from this masterpiece? Allow me to point it out. The focal point of the piece, Venus, this icon of all that is enchanting and beautiful, is entirely hairless. Of course, only if you discount the lengthy mane on her head, that you’d think would indicate she should also have a lot of hair elsewhere.

Women have body hair and this body hair is all over. Whether it’s between the eyes, under the nose, or just on the legs, it is beautiful and should never be anything to be worried about. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with shaving. The whole idea is that there is no one correct answer. The traits that are to be deemed “pretty” or “unpretty” are not listed on a checklist with yes or no answers to whether one is right and the other wrong. Go ahead and shave daily or grow that hair long, the point is: it’s your body, and your hair — so do what you want with it! Trust me, there’s no one looking (and if there is, who cares?!)

Ela Messina

Illinois State '24

Ela is a sophomore Marketing major at Illinois State. Aside from writing, she spends her downtime playing with her dog, binging the newest TV comedies, and baking any and every dessert in the cookbook.
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