How Throwing Out My Razor Gave Me a New Sense of Confidence

When I was younger, I just didn’t understand shaving. Why would anyone pay money for razors and shaving cream, risking cuts and stubble, to remove hair that naturally grows on their body? I vowed to never shave. But then, puberty hit. I noticed the fuzz on my legs and how my friends had started to remove theirs. So, I asked my mom for a razor. I started shaving my legs, and later my under arms, and I continued for the next eight years or so. For years, I told myself that I liked shaving.

Last winter, my legs were looking a little hairy. I had been wearing long pants for months in the cold Ohio weather. It was then that I began to realize that I don’t actually like shaving. While I don’t dislike the way a clean, smooth leg feels, I also don’t dislike having body hair, and I don’t find any pleasure in the process of removing it. I was scared though. I was worried about the reaction of my family and peers. So I continued to shave for another year.At the beginning of 2017, I shaved once. Then, I threw away my razor. I wondered why I’d continued to deal with nicks, cuts, and ingrown hair for so long when I didn’t mind my hair. After months of not shaving, I realized that I’d never even seen my legs and armpits with their full hair. When I had started shaving my armpits, I probably had three hairs. I’d been shaving them almost everyday since.

It doesn’t bother me if people shave. Yes, that is the societal and cultural expectation of female-identifying people in the United States, but it has no affect on me if others ascribe to this expectation or chose to defy it. Their decisions surrounding their body are theirs to make, just as my decision to not shave is my decision. It’s disheartening that so many comments in regards to body hair are brutally negative.

Lola Kirke, an actress I admire, recently wore a strapless dress to The Golden Globes. When people saw her body hair, she actually received death threats.  Why does someone’s personal decision in regards to their body affect others? Personally, I’ve been told that no one would date me if I have body hair, and that my hair made a close family member “physically sick.” The way that body hair is addressed in the media is bizarre in itself. I guess because we are so acclimated to smooth legs, we feel the need to bring attention to those to defy this norm.For hundreds of years, body hair has ranged in meaning across the world. (Check out this article from mic to learn more). Today, it’s yet another reminder of deeply skewed and wrong ideas that so many have about gender. Our bodies do not need to conform to anyone else’s ideas about what they should look like. Gender is not a binary. This idea is damaging to everyone. When I received comments that suggest my hair is “gross” to others, this is saying that my body, and the way I chose to present myself, is there only to please others. This is not true.

Not shaving, and choosing to wear clothing that doesn’t hide my body hair, does not change who I am. It does not make me less or more of a woman. Shaving doesn’t make you more or less of anything either. Maybe shaving is for you, or maybe it’s not, but it’s really empowering to reflect on why you do what you do. If you’re continuing to do something just to make others happy (and it’s not making you happy), then maybe it’s time to reconsider whatever that is. If anything, not shaving has given me a certain kind of confidence that I have personally found in not giving a shit about what other people think.(Also checkout this article featuring a fantastic poem about body hair)

 

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