From a very young age, I was taught that boys were supposed to be hairy and girls were not.
During my preteen years, if I were to ever see a girl that had more than a light peach fuzz, I somehow thought it was gross or assumed that she didn’t take care of her hygiene. I didn’t ever question that way of thinking; I just accepted it.
I started shaving my legs when I was in 5th grade. Earlier that day, I overheard a few girls in the gym locker room talking about shaving. As one girl bragged about her soft legs, other girls took turns running their hands down her hairless skin. So before my mom got home from work that night, I snuck into her bathroom and stole her razor. I did it out of curiosity and to have a sense of “fitting in” rather than my leg hair actually bothering me. But I hid the fact that I shaved my legs from my mom because, at the time, I was embarrassed mostly because I didn’t want her to know about that part of my life and because at that age, you’re embarrassed by just about everything.
By the time 7th grade rolled around, I was shaving my legs regularly but nothing else, however, that quickly changed. During a summer day, while my best friend and I were playing a board game, I raised my arm to give her a high-five in my spaghetti strap tank top. She stopped what she was doing and gave me a strange look. After I addressed her odd behavior, she told me that I needed to shave my underarms because the light blonde hairs were starting to turn dark and visible. She told me that my underarm hair was “gross” and that I should make my hair look like hers—nonexistent. That night in the shower, I ended up shaving my underarm hair for the first time.
Because of all this shaving that I thought was mandatory, my skin definitely suffered. I’ve dealt with my fair share from ingrown hairs; little red irritable bumps you sometimes get from shaving. And don’t even get me started on accidental cuts from razors.
It’s strange to reflect and realize that I, like many girls and boys, are conditioned to think that a normal human bodily function like body hair is “dirty” or “disgusting” on females. With some thought, I’ve come to terms that it shouldn’t matter at all because it’s just body hair. People have made it a bigger deal than it should be.
So now I shave when I feel like it, and other times I do not. I think there should be nothing gross about it. I believe women should have the option of whether or not they want to shave without receiving an extreme amount of pressure from their peers, partners or media. It’s OK to be hairy!
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