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What I Learned When I Stopped Shaving

Like most women I started shaving during puberty. I never thought too much about why I did except that for some reason it had been communicated to me that body hair was gross.  I have shaved either from every day or every week every since puberty. For me that’s about eleven solid years of buying razors, shaving cream, moisturizer, and high tax on a luxury item that was never communicated to me to be an actual option. 

But recently in social media I’ve seen women talking about a “No Shave” movement. My initial reaction to this was to scrunch up my nose and utter “ew.” But then I thought, why is that? Why is it that my body in its natural state is “gross” to me? So I decided to try it out, and here’s what I learned: 

The first thing that happened was that as the hair started growing out it was course and rough. This was usually my sign that I needed to shave, but this time I didn’t. As both my armpit hair and leg hair got longer, the softer it was. 

Another thing that happened was that my self confidence in my body increased. I hadn’t considered myself as someone who had a lot of negative views of my body, but I noticed that a lot of that was because I had come to see my outer appearance as acceptable by social norms. At home when I looked in the mirror I felt almost as if I had reached a new level of comfort in womanhood. I came to feel an even deepr sense of contentedness and sexiness in accepting my bodys’ wholeness and naturalness. 

Despite this, as my hair grew out I was no longer in line with these social norms and I noticed that when I was in public I became extremely self conscious about wearing shorts or tank tops. I thought about trimming the hair, or even shaving again just to stop this feeling. What hit me about this was that I was totally content with my body at home, alone, with no outside voices, but as soon as other people were involved, without even saying anything, I was instantly conscious and uncomfortable of not meeting my perceived social expectations. 

Besides this new social awareness, I became even more aware of the physical function of my body hair. Since I am no longer a pre-pubescent girl, my body grows a protective shield through the pores in sensitive parts of my body to protect against bacteria and cuts. There’s a reason there are so many articles out there advising women on moisturizers and ways to correctly shave in order to prevent razor burn and infection. What is actually recommended is to keep your hair, which grows out of necessity and actually serves your body with a purpose.

There’s nothing embarassing or shameful about our bodies in our natural states, in fact what’s really unfortunate is the false notion that other people get to decide how you feel about your body, and perpendicular to that, how we feel about ourselves. 

It turns out that I really like my body as it is, and I like not having to shave. So consider trying this “no shave” movement out. Or not. But because you like your skin to be super soft, or because your hair irritates you, or because you want to. But think about why, and think about what you’re believing about your body and what’s expected of you in relation to that. At the end of the day, what’s really sexy is being confident in your own skin. 

I like coffee, crochet, and stories. Feminism is my theme song, and Parks and Rec is my show of the year. Never stop laughing.