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The Politics of Hair (the kind not on your head)

In my other life I work for a fashion magazine, as I’ve mentioned. One of my newest assignments is to find the best products to remove hair, whether cream, blades, electric shavers, waxes, whatever. I’m going to surprise you all by saying that I jumped on this assignment. Asked for it, even. Because, you see, I don’t shave.

When the topic of shaving comes up (and it does, every now and then), I usually say that I don’t shave for political reasons. That, as a feminist, I am opposed to the notion that beautiful = hairless below the eyebrows. I am annoyed by our culture’s insistence that hair is gross unless it’s coming out the top of the head. It’s gotten so bad that there is now a war on eyebrows that leads some women to go so far as to shave them off completely only to draw them back on. I find this insane.

I also find it insane that women voluntarily put themselves through something as painful and damaging as waxing for the sake of beauty. Beauty should never, ever cause one pain. No, really.

But beyond all that, I just can’t be bothered to shave random areas of my body. Who would I be doing it for? Not myself, certainly. And not for anyone who might be seeing me naked. I will not be naked in front of a person who fears hair. Because they will probably freak out when they find my hair in the shower, and they always will. It’s a tedious, time-consuming process that has few merits, so I don’t shave.

But every now and then I wonder if there is some product out there that will remove my hair, if not permanently, then for long enough that I don’t have to worry about it much. But hey, home permanent removal will work, too. Why? Because, as much as I rail against our culture for disliking hair and raise that old bugaboo, patriarchy, as the source of this evil, I have to admit: I don’t like hair below the eyebrows much myself.

This makes me feel like a hypocrite, though a very smart friend of mine says not. Still…

As you read this, I am embarking on a quest to find a hair removal solution that keeps hair away for a long time and isn’t painful in any way. (Though I must say i am extremely disturbed by the epilator that just arrived int he mail.)

When I mentioned this over on my LJ, my friend veejane asked some very interesting questions:

How do other women feel about hair on different parts of their bodies? Do other women have differential opinions about kinds of hairiness? How do the products on the market conform to these opinions? How do the politics/anxieties of hairiness on each body part play into the products made available to combat hair?

Almost nobody I know does bikini waxing. (I don’t know any swimsuit models, alas.)

Most women I know shave their legs, daily or weekly or for a special occasion, but it’s something they’ll let go and not feel too bad about one way or the other. People talk about unshaved legs, as a political statement.

Armpit hair is more like talking about farts: everybody knows about it but it’s vaguely embarrassing so we all pretend it never existed.

And stray hairs on your face are, like, not even a question.

I’m intensely interested in having a conversation about these issues. Though it’s all a bit TMI, I feel like it’s something that should be discussed in a group of mature adults, such as most of us are here. As I get and try more products, read more press, and do more research, I’ll have more to contribute to the market aspect of it.

So, ABW readers, what is your opinion on different kinds of hairiness?

53 thoughts on “The Politics of Hair (the kind not on your head)”

  1. Veronica says:

    Seriously? OK, I’ll start.

    I haven’t shaved since Christmas, but that’s not representative. Usually I shave my legs below the knee and my armpits. I have dark coarse body hair and it’s pretty obvious when I don’t shave. I haven’t lately because it’s winter and I’m not seeing anybody, so nobody but me and whatever doctor I go to is going to see. I have to say, I’m developing affection for my rather copious armpit hair, which is fluffy and kind of silky. But I’m sure I’ll shave it again come summer.

    I really hate the beauty standard that says that women shouldn’t have body hair. I think it’s misogynist and infantilizing, and I think it’s part of the eroticization of prepubescent girls. Body hair is one of the ways you know that I’m an adult.

    But…I’m part of this culture too, and being intellectually aware of something doesn’t mean that on a gut level I can personally overcome it. I’ve spent time not shaving for political reasons and during the summer or when I’m sleeping with someone I always spend so much time and emotional energy feeling self-conscious and worrying that I finally decided the hell with it, and started shaving again–I think that the amount of energy I have to put in to not shaving isn’t worth it and that I can better dedicate that energy to some other battle.

    One thing I will not do is so much as touch my pubic hair (metaphorically). Once I shaved my bikini line, once I naired it. I got itchy red bumps and the idea of putting a chemical so caustic that it kills hair below the root on such a sensitive area of my body disturbs me. More than that, though…it looked wrong. I’m Ashkenazi Jewish–I have a lot of hair there, and taking it away…I just looked wrong. In order to avoid looks or trouble about it, and also because I like the way they look and find them more comfortable, I wear board shorts when swimming instead of women’s bathing suits; if men don’t have to shave and wear little bits of things and instead get to wear boxers, I don’t see why I shouldn’t.

    I don’t touch my eyebrows. When I was 12, my parents called me in to tell me in all seriousness that my eyebrows were getting “a little wild” and I should consider plucking or trimming them. To my eternal credit, I told them that was crazy, and if I were a boy they wouldn’t be saying this to me, and forget it. It was a lapse in otherwise very good parenting.

  2. Diatryma says:

    I’m blonde, which means my hair is not as obvious beneath stockings or bare-legged. It also means that I basically don’t have eyebrows– my glasses hide them entirely.

    Random hairs on my face– specifically the tufts growing from a couple moles– go as soon as I can get a grip on them with the tweezers. If they were invisible rather than very fine, I’d probably do the same; I tend to mess with things on my face while I’m thinking. The same goes for a couple overachieving follicles on my breasts. If I ignore them, they’ll grow almost an inch, and that’s kind of off-putting, so I pull them. If I do it right, it doesn’t hurt. I wouldn’t do it as an area removal, though.

    Armpits are shaved every few days. I sweat a lot, and I’m self-conscious about the smell. More hair means more surface area and more scent, it seems, as well as having to use more antiperspirant.

    Legs are shaved in the summer or when I know I’m going bare-legged. A random swimming party isn’t enough to make me shave them. It’s as much for my pleasure as anyone else’s; I like the feeling of shaved legs under a skirt.

    Pubic hair stays. I manage to cut myself at least once every time I shave my legs, every once in a while with my armpits, and I don’t think I could see what I was doing at that kind of angle. Blades I can’t see and have only dubious control over? No.

  3. TierList E says:

    I do have some issues about my body hair. It’s calmed down a bit since high school but sometimes I do get a bit self-conscious.

    It’s weird- As to how much hair that grows on my it’s actually not too much: if I never shave I wouldn’t have too much excess hair on my legs/armpits/whatever, but the problem I’ve had is that I have hair in way too many places for my feminine comfort. *flush* Like on my fingers. And other places. It’s not overly apparent, I don’t even think people notice it, but it’s there. I hate it, and it always made me feel unfeminine. If I had the money I would laser the stuff away.

    Now as for the hair that suppose to be there I don’t fuss about too often. I whore jeans so shaving is more for my comfort in those jeans then for anything visual. My fondness for jackets also lets me slack on armpit shaving as well, but I do tend to do both if I know they are going to be seen.

    I have an odd logic with pubic hair maybe. I’ve always associated anti-pubic hair with common white men, so I’ve never bother having that concern me because I believe that a man that won’t date me because I have pubic hair is already not dating me because I’m black. Life has yet to challenge me on that.

  4. marci says:

    i shave under my arms in preference to wearing anti perspirant… i never ever perspired before i grew the hair on my head. i was shaven headed / cropped haired before 2000 and decided to grow locs.. now that i have all this hair i perspire.. between wearing icky anti perspirant and 2 seconds with a razor… the razor wins… it works for me – it’s cooler under there…
    i seldom shave my legs and pubic area.. sometimes i will just do my legs on a whim because i like the feel.. *laughing at my self*
    i don’t swim so public pubic outings will never be on the radar but i like the board short idea veronica…
    my thing is having my eyebrows threaded.. i have it done it every month religiously in a west end (london) department store… they are such a wonderful shape and thicker than when i did them myself… instant face framer.. – no make up during the week except a slick of liquid eyeliner… done.. and on the weekend i may add lipstick.. (at 42 my skin is pretty flawless – thanks mum…)

  5. nojojojo says:

    Most body hair is not really an emotional issue for me. Like Diatryma, I shave my pits because it helps prevent funkiness; I pluck occasional chin hairs just because I think they’re ugly. There’s no political thought to it; they’re just ugly. I get rid of pimples and blackheads for the same reason — I like for my skin to be blemish-free. (I’m especially annoyed right now because I’ve got dry, peeling winter skin.) I don’t angst over it if I miss one, but I feel it — it tickles in the wind, or I notice it when I touch my face. And it bugs me. So I get rid of it.

    Sure it hurts to tweeze, but human beings have never been a species that liked its natural appearance. We always fuck with it in some way, no matter what culture we come from. I’m just glad I don’t live in a culture that believes in neck-stretching or palate-piercing or whatever. The occasional tweezing seems mild, in comparison.

    The hair on my legs is fine enough and close enough in color to my skin, that I don’t need to shave. I’ve done it a few times just to see how I like it, but it isn’t necessary and I’m lazy, so I don’t bother for the most part. My pubic hair completely makes up for that, though, so I do shave there sometimes. Partly it’s for the same reason as shaving my armpits, but partly… I just like it. It’s hard to explain. I don’t shave the area completely — everything except a strip down the middle, which I guess men would figure is skipping the most important part… but I don’t do it for them. I don’t do it because I want to look like a prepubescent girl, which I think is why most men like for women to shave pubes. *I* do it because I like defying convention in little hidden ways. I’m a very ordinary-looking person on the outside, rather reserved, and I spent a lot of time wearing boring business suits. But under the suit, I might be wearing fancy lingerie, a “magic” necklace meant to bring luck or strength, or… a pubic landing strip. =) It helps me feel extraordinary inside, no matter how ordinary I might look on the surface. To me, that’s the true purpose of beauty — is to evoke that inward feeling. It’s just that some of us need to mess with the outside a bit to get it.

  6. Meep says:

    thank god you have this post.

    why the hell does everyone get so upset over body hair? I guess people are all secretly super-self-conscious about it. A lot of people chastise me about it constantly but it’s gotten to the point where I think that secretly they envy my ability to not care. You’ll notice my hair unless I wax my entire body (which sounds disgusting). So screw everyone else!

    also, why are guys under more scrutiny now to shave their junk? I sense a big dose of feminism is in order.

  7. Julia says:

    The hairless woman beauty standard irritates me too, but on a gut level, I have had deeply emotional struggles with some of my own body hair. I currently perform some level of removal or maintenance on most of my hair.

    I am married and monogamous with a man who removes a lot of his own body hair, so at least as far as my personal life, I feel that things are fairly equitable. In the winter, we’re both more lax about hair removal, but we do try to keep up a general level of maintenance out of courtesy. I don’t feel oppressed-as-a-woman by his preference for less hair because he does it for me too. I also know that he feels some societal pressure to remove his body hair, because he won’t go to the beach or pool without trimming his chest, stomach, back, and pubic hair. He does this even though most of his friends don’t… I’m not sure where he gets it. He was already doing it when I met him, so it wasn’t because of me.

    I shave my legs, weekly in the winter and more frequently in the summer. It really depends on what I am planning to wear that day. If it’s going to be a skirt or shorts, I shave. I also shave my armpits, but that’s more because I get random allergic reactions to antiperspirant/deodorant and only apply it once every few days. I find that keeping my armpits hairless helps to slow the onset of stink. At this point, I’d probably keep shaving my armpits even if I stopped having allergic reactions, but it’s hard to say whether that’s because I’m just used to how it looks now or because I do also have issues with armpit hair. I don’t mind seeing it on others and I think it feels nice.

    I am Italian, and my natural brows meet over my nose. When I was 12 or so and the hairs began to grow in darker, I got very upset and told my mother that it bothered me. She denied its existence. I felt devastated and took to secretly using my father’s razor to deal with it. Other girls in my school were teased for having “unibrows” and I was terrified that one day I would become the target. I also often got mistaken for a boy in those days, and that always made me sad. I saw the thick brows as one more thing standing between me and my desire to be recognized as female.

    Finally, my mother and a Brazilian aunt took pity on me and brought me to a waxing place to have it waxed. I wasn’t that excited about the pain, but I was relieved to look “normal” again. I’ve been waxing or tweezing ever since. It doesn’t even hurt anymore. It took years before I could admit to others that I maintain my brows and that they do naturally meet in the middle of my face. I’m talking, I was out of college by the time I could be open about it.

    I’ve got upper lip hair as well, but it’s very light brown and short and blends in pretty well against my skin, so I leave it alone. I naired it a few times, but the smell is awful right under your nose. Ultimately, I stopped doing it because I could see that I had a choice between accepting it and becoming obsessed with the “ugliness” of it, just as I had faced with all of my other hair when I was younger, and I decided to just walk away before I could talk myself into yet another stupid grooming ritual.

    As for pubic hair, I left it completely alone until I was 25 or so. I have a lot of pubic hair–so much so that doctors and dates have all commented on it (not unfavorably, but with enough surprise that I realized it was more than many people have). I like the way it looks, actually, but it’s not comfortable. It takes a long time to dry and in the summer, it feels too hot. These days, I trim it back with clippers so that it’s always very close to my skin. I shaved once and have waxed a few times, but I get ingrown hairs that itch and look awful, so now I just trim and wear board shorts or boyshort/skirt style bathing suits to swim. Like Veronica said, I prefer how I look in those styles and I also just don’t want trouble from random people about my body hair.

  8. The Cruel Secretary says:

    Since going shaven in 2003, I started grooming my eyebrows–at first, tweezing, then waxing, and once in a blue moon, threading. I feel like I need to have some defining hair on my face, so I don’t go pencil-thin.

    Facial hair (chin, upper lips, neck): wax, then tweeze if and when I feel a hair grow.

    I also razor-shave my armpits (to minimize the smell) and legs (I wear a lot of knee-length and above-the-knee skirts and dresses, so shaved legs just look more aesthetically pleasing to me. But that’s just me, y’all.)

    As for the pubic area: at best, I lightly apply the clippers, mostly to keep the sweatiness to a minimum. Still, I keep the pubes because I feel more womanly. I guess I practice my feminism “down there.” LOL

    Everywhere else: Eff it. It’s too fine or too behind (pun intended) to be bothered with.

    Feminism and the hair below my head (seriously): I tried to have an damn-the-patriarchy-I’m-natural attitude about it. (And I rocked that idea from my late teens through my 20s.) Oddly, when I became 30 (and getting wonderfully older), my attitude shifted to wanting to be groomed–and I developed my hair-removal equation/routine to what I mentioned above. I feel like I can’t fight the patriarchy when I’m feeling unkempt.

    But again, that’s just me.

  9. Haddayr says:

    FWIW, I have had several people who work as waxers tell me that waxing is not nearly as painful (in general, of course) to white women as to black women because we have weaker roots. Which sort of made me laugh for all kinds of reasons. Men of all ethnicities find it more painful, because they have often curlier hair and more of it and apparently again with the roots.

    I find waxing to be about as painful as ripping off a band-aid, if that.

    That said, I am currently sporting a spectacularly thick layer of fur all over my body as it is winter.

    I am with the woman above who says that intellectually she hates the infantilizing aspect of the culture of beauty that says women should be hairless, but that I look down at my legs when they are hairy and I just do NOT like it.

    It’s probably partly due to my having very very pale skin and extremely dark hair, too.

    For years when I was younger, I shaved nothing. I was stopped by strangers on the street to be scolded on more than one occasion, which is jaw-dropping.

    But as I got older, I decided to do what made me feel most comfortable, even though the political implications are unpleasant. I wax or shave my legs or underarms in the summer and spring, and I don’t think much about it, anymore.

    I also pluck stray hairs on my face and elsewhere, and I feel no conflict about that whatsoever. I’ve seen photos of elderly Irish women in fishing villages, their beards blowing in the wind, and even if it makes me the worst feminist in the world, I simply shall not go down that path. do not want.

  10. therealpotato says:

    Oh, wow, GREAT post topic. I have such issues with this! I have pale skin and dark, coarse, curly, bushy hair. I started shaving my legs at 8 because the other kids were calling me Gorilla Legs. At 15 my stepmother was horrified to see pubic hair peeking out from my bathing suit, so I started shaving the edges. At 26 I got a bikini wax because a boyfriend made me feel like a circus freak for having pubic hair. (He also asked if I’d consider waxing my arms.)

    Now I shave my legs if they’re going to be seen by anyone other than my husband, and I shave my pits because I find the hair uncomfortable. I get my eyebrows waxed because I look too much like Gandalf if I don’t. I don’t do anything to my pubic hair, but feel shameful and guilty because I feel like I should, only I hate the pain and expense. (Damn, waxing is not cheap!) And I’ve recently developed black hairs on my chin and upper neck, which I tweeze.

    Oh, and get this: I recently developed a medical condition, a pilonidal abscess, that’s caused by an ingrown hair in the… um… upper crack region. Right at the base of the tailbone. It was the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced (and I have a chronic illness). I was told that it can recur, but I can prevent it by having my entire buttcrack waxed regularly. I haven’t summoned the courage/shame/cash to do it just yet, but was shocked to hear my doctor prescribing a Brazilian wax. That was weird.

    My husband, by the way, loves my body hair and makes every effort to say sweet things about it. I wish that was enough to make up for all that conditioning…

  11. Angel H. says:

    I’ve been unshaved for several months now, mainly because due to colder weather, no one see my hairy pits or legs. Even when I do shave my legs, it’s usually just for a special occasion. During the warmer months, I will shave my pits regularly. Also, I usually only shave my “shadow-stache” (I hate tweezers!) and trim my eyebrows on special occasions.

    I remember when I first started shaving. A few of my white friends in junior high were talking about it in gym class. I noticed their smooth legs, and looked at my fuzzy ones. I stole one of my dad’s disposable razors and tried it out. When I told my mom, she said “Black women don’t shave!” But when my sister and I began doing it, she started to, also. (An older black coworker noticed my legs, and asked if I shaved. When I told her sometimes, she said the same thing my mom did: “Black women don’t shave!” Anyone else ever hear of that?)

    I don’t do the bikini thing because, frankly, not much grows down there. I actually wish I did have a furry, fuzzy bush though.

    AARRGHH!! TMI! TMI! I’m so sorry! ^_^

  12. jsb16 says:

    I shave very, very rarely (armpits once in the past year)and don’t do anything else to remove hair. Mostly this is because I’d rather spend the time it would take to shave doing something else.

    My mother didn’t shave, either, except that when I was a teenager and wanted to shave, she admitted to me that she had shaved when she was a teenager. She didn’t buy me razors, but she never objected to my buying them myself. When I got to college, I decided that I couldn’t be bothered to shave regularly. My husband and I have a “no stubble” agreement: each of us makes the decision between uncut and clean-shaven for each patch of hair, but stubble is right out in all cases.

    I do have a bit of facial hair, but I don’t tweeze, shave, or wax it. This is partly laziness and partly that my immune system has already once decided that some part of my body is a foreign invader that must be destroyed. If my immune system decides that my adrenals are its next target, an increase in facial hair is one of the symptoms. I don’t want to delay diagnosis by having shaved.:-)

  13. Angel H. says:

    ^^^ heheh…”Rogaine for Women”, indeed! ;-)

    Okay! Okay! I’ll quit!

  14. Angel H. says:

    Oops! Sorry Jsb16! You’re faster typist than I.

  15. joankelly6000 says:

    Thanks for this post, ABW, and I am interested in hearing about your experiences with this as the assignment moves along.

    Personally, the only hair I like on me is my eyebrows, although technically I didn’t like them in their natural state either. I was born with eyebrows that had no arches and turned up – UP! – at the outer point. Like Heatmizer. So I have plucked the hell out of them, and I use powder and a brush to fill in fake brows that look right to me.

    That said, I include the hair on my head as being hair I could do without. It’s a bit of an OCD thing, my feelings about my own hair. I think when I am an old lady I will shave my head. For now it is easier to deal with having hair on my head, emotional-energy-wise.

    I would like to note that I am not weirded out actually by other people’s hair. Women or men. However, I have something to say about pubic hair and I am not meaning to insult anybody with it – I sometimes enjoy kissing people down there, and as I *also* have an OCD thing about having anything touch my face (besides the surface area of my lips), I am uncomfortable sticking my face into what feels like a bouquet of alfalfa sprouts. Trimming or hairlessness down there is not about the look of it, for me, at all, or any interest in pre-pubescent ANYBODY. It’s the feel of it in practical terms.

    I would not demand that anybody trim or completely remove their pubic hair for me, and I personally would like waxing to be banned as a whole separate issue. I am of a skin color and hair coarseness type that supposedly would have had a less painful time being waxed, and the one time I tried it I almost passed out from the pain. And that is saying something about the pain level. It makes me crazy to think of women feeling like they have to go through that, particularly women for whom it is on the more painful side.

  16. karnythia says:

    I can’t stand underarm hair. Hate it. And in my quest for a way to remove it that didn’t leave me with razor bumps I discovered Veet. While not permanent it is fairly long lasting and I’ve noticed that over the years my hair growth has diminished significantly. I’m pretty casual about my leg hair, but it’s always been sparse and it bleaches out in sunlight to the point where it really doesn’t matter what I do to it since you’d have to be right on top of me to know it’s there. I use Veet on my bikini line, but even that isn’t an always thing. My husband is one of those guys that doesn’t care for the nude pubes look and now that I no longer have a monthly cycle there’s no real benefit for me in total hair removal either. I do occasionally get my eyebrows waxed. It only stings me for a second, but it’s also just two quick pulls and I’m done, but that’s such a small area I’m not sure I can really speak on how it would feel to have it done anywhere else that would require repeated use of the cloth strip.

  17. Sarah says:

    Great topic. I have pale skin and dark hair, so my unshaved body hair is pretty noticeable. I generally don’t remove most of it, though, for the political reasons you describe and because I find the process quite uncomfortable (itchy). I also just don’t like spending a lot of time on personal appearance stuff. I’d rather do other things, and it’s hard enough to get myself to just do the necessities. I have to admit, though, that I am a bit embarrassed about body hair and it often influences my clothing choices. I almost always wear pants and I don’t often wear sleeveless shirts. Summer is one of the only times of year when I’ll shave sometimes, which I guess is inconsistent of me.

    It’s also hard to explain these choices to others. My mom’s always hounding me about this, telling me I need to shave. She also says I “look like a European woman” with unshaved legs and armpits. Is that supposed to be bad, when body hair is quite natural? It’s quite odd to me.

  18. Shannon says:

    There is very little hair that I go nuts wanting to remove. And usually it’s on my face. Other than that I’m one of those people who doesn’t really care. It’s not political for me, it’s just that I actually am (some people think over so) very fond of my fuzz. I do remove the hair on my legs when/if I feel like it, same thing with my armpits. Occasionally I trim my pubic hair but that’s usually more out of annoyance (pubes caught in panties makes me unutterably angry) than the feeling that I’m supposed to.

    Honestly it’s just not something I worry about. I don’t think about it until someone asks. It’s not on my list of issues that I worry ove.

  19. whatsername says:

    I am in a transitioning place with body hair right now, and have been ever since I met my now husband.

    He really doesn’t care about body hair. I could have hairy legs and pits and it wouldn’t matter to him. This was new for me, as other guys I’d been with made a big deal out of their preference. I’ve stopped shaving my legs except for occasionally thanks to my husband’s attitude and feminism leading me to seriously re-evaluate my own.

    I have always and continue to envy women who will let their hair grow and not care. I recently came across the “porn” site and am seriously enamored with it. It’s not perfect as far as diversity goes (where are the “fatties” and dark skin??) but I love looking at all the different ways body hair can grow and distribute, at what a natural woman looks like.

    However, I am still bound to shaving my armpits every few days. I just can’t get used to the idea of having hair under there, and it’s harder to cover up than leg hair. I have also noticed that my perceived opinion of others strongly influences my feelings on this. I feel stupid and guilty for not being strong enough to truly NOT CARE what they think (what business is it of their’s anyway?!) but I guess the constant reinforcement of the beauty standard just isn’t shrugged off easily.

    When we were living in Seattle I would occasionally go out of the house with unshaved legs in basketball shorts to exercise and stuff. I felt like people up there were generally less judgmental than here in CA where I grew up and live again now. Living as close to Berkeley as I do, that was a surprising revelation for me.

    Anyway, I guess I do like smooth skin. But the thing is, shaving your legs, you don’t get smooth skin! Or at least I don’t… There’s always some spot where you’re running your hand over your leg where you will feel stubbles. So part of it is it doesn’t seem worth it to me. But I do wish my hair grew more evenly. I’m one of those women who’s hair basically gets darker and darker the lower it goes on my legs, so it’s really noticeable and dark around my ankles. I don’t think I’d care half so much if it was just the same light brown color everywhere.

    As for pubic hair, I can’t stand the way I look shaved. It’s weird, it’s uncomfortable when having sex and even just wearing underwear and just, ick. But I do trim, simply as maintenance and courtesy to my husband and myself (I’m SURE this is TMI but I prefer to wear underwear and if the pubes get too long they get stuck, and, just, ow, ow, ow ow!)

    So that’s my long winded and complicated relationship with my body hair.

  20. bridget says:

    i waxed my eyebrows from the time i was 14 to 20 and now they don’t grow anymore…occasionally i will have to tweeze a stray hair that beats the odds, but i’m pretty sure i killed all the follicles. ouch.

    i used to wax my upper lip but it was too painful. i pluck really obvious hairs now and leave the rest. can’t be bothered with it i guess.

    i shave my armpits and my legs but less so during the winter months.

    i have had one bikini wax and will NEVER DO IT AGAIN. sooooo painful! a couple of my friends get them every month or even every 3 weeks and i cannot fathom how. maybe they are all into s & m or something. seriously, it’s almost like you would have to have masochistic tendencies to endure that pain.

    i did try sugaring a couple of times and it hurts A LOT less than waxing and is much more natural (though i guess hair removal in general is not natural). i would recommend it as an alternative to waxing for someone who wants to try it, but it was too expensive for me to commit to doing it regularly. i mostly just trim my pubic hair now and hope for the best. if a guy doesn’t want to date me because i have stray hair outside my bikini line, he is not a guy i would want to date anyway. i haven’t had any complaints since high school, which makes me think maybe the men i date are finally growing up

  21. robyn says:

    I hate my body hair like no other — I’m pretty pale and my hair is so thick and dark I’m hairier than my boyfriend.

    Face: I pluck my eyebrows constantly to fend off a unibrow. I also have stray hairs on my chin and upper lip that I yank out. If I could stop myself from pulling hairs out as soon as I could see them I’d do electrolysis to just kill the fuckers. Alas, it’s an obsession.

    Pits: A college roommate of mine didn’t shave her pits much. She’d tell me that it wasn’t a feminist thing, just that “she forgot” to shave them. At the time I thought she was nuts, but now I have the same problem. I just don’t look under my arms enough to remember. At least until I smell.

    Pubes: I keep them trimmed. The first time I did it was out of curiosity. Turns out that my period was so much easier to deal with when it didn’t have all that hair to get stuck to, so I decided to keep it up.

    Legs: I have terrible problems with my leg hair. I get the nastiest razor burn in the world — I’ve shaved and had upwards of 60 cuts using a fresh razor on each leg. Even if I didn’t mind how long leg hair on me would look, mine is so thick that the rubbing against my pants aggravates my excema and hurts when it’s long enough. For Veet or Nair to work through on my thick hair, I have the leave the junk on so long I think my legs will burn off. If I had the money, laser hair removal would be a miracle, but no dice.

    My solution? I’ve been using an epilator for 6 months and LOVE it. The first time I used it hurt like a motherfucker and took forever, but the pain was worth it. I have fewer ingrown hairs than when I shaved. If I do it once every week or two, I catch new growth when it’s still sparse and isn’t too overwhelming. Since I’m not slicing up my legs, it actually hurts me less to remove hairs by pulling them out than it did by shaving. This will be the first summer in 8+ years that I won’t feel self-conscious in shorts.

  22. indefinitearticle says:

    Ooh, I was just talking about some of this the other day with someone I was getting in all states of undress with. Excellent timing!

    So I’ve got a weird history in various trans/gender spaces; I was raised as female, lived for a while as a man during which time I started a hormone transition, and now live in bizarro gender land; I make no efforts to pass for male or female, I just let my body be what it will be aside from the continued modification with testosterone. I’m an Ashkenazi Jew so I was hairy before I started hormones; when I was an adolescent still living as a girl I had some shame stuff around body hair but only really removed it when hounded about it by my mother (who pushed her control issues on my body in many other ways) or when I knew others would be seeing it (for this and other reasons I tended to keep my body covered other than my hands and face).

    When I was living exclusively as male I generally didn’t worry about my body hair, although the testosterone made my hair grow enough that trimming my pubic hair for comfort’s sake was more and more important. At a certain point I developed an allergy to soap (on my armpits) and deoderant, so I began regularly trimming or shaving my pits as necessary.

    Now I keep a pretty similar hair routine, but I’ve discovered two interesting things about my body hair that make me hm and um. One is the factor of my leg hair, which I have no problem with…except when it shows under a skirt. Especially when it shows between a short skirt and high socks/stockings, which are beloved clothing items. And I so don’t want to shave my legs. Sometimes I say what the hell and go for it anyway, sometimes I just wear tights underneath it all.

    The other weirdness is that I have a fair amount of torso hair now (which is fabulous and I love it), including hair on my breasts. This is something so unfamiliar to me to be seeing, and while it’s something I like just fine (I generally have less issues with having hair in my cleavage than hair between a skirt and some thigh highs), it’s a weird thing for me when navigating sexual relationships. As so much of the Androgynous Ideal as is popular in the painfully existent Homo Mainstream is based on hairlessness (not to mention being shaped like Twiggy), hairy breasts just don’t have a place there, and lots of bi and queer people specifically prefer their gendered anatomical aesthetics separate.

    That I dress pretty femininely and flaunt my curves but also grow plenty of facial hair (and flaunt and trim that as well) results in many womenfolk/people assigned female at birth telling me about their personal body hair stories, particularly their issues with their own facial hair growth. While it’s always Delightful with a capital D and just a hint of a rolled eye (oh yes, random bus stranger, isn’t that fascinating how you spend all that time and money and energy and pain to look as much unlike me as possible!), it is definitely interesting.

  23. Sonja says:

    I haven’t shaved for several months. I’m the only woman I know who doesn’t shave regularly. That rather depresses me when I think about it.

    My body hair is pretty dark and it gets really long, especially on the inside and back of my upper thighs – no idea why. It’s something I’m pretty self-conscious about, and I don’t really like these weird long hairs, while I like the pelt on my shins just fine. But I just don’t want to shave constantly, my skin doesn’t like it at all, I don’t like waxing, so I just deal with it.

    When I was growing up (eighties/nineties in Germany), you didn’t *have* to shave like you do now – that is, it wasn’t such a norm to do it. I miss that.

  24. ej says:

    I’m pretty apathetic to most hair removal. I only shave my legs or armpits when they are going to be exposed, which isn’t all that often, since I tend to dress pretty conservatively. Pubic hair removal mostly scares me. The only hair I tend to remove on a regular basis is facial hair, probably because it’s exposed. I have my brows threaded at least once a month, otherwise I will get unibrow and look generally unkempt. I tweeze the sparse hairs on my chin and upper lip.

    My introduction to painful hair removal: When I was 17, my mom took me on a spa day, and gave the woman who did facials $50 to wax my brows while I was trapped lying down. I was completely livid at the time, but I’ve (mostly) forgiven her for it now. It was one of many painful lessons into the standards of beauty.

  25. Jess says:

    Thank you so much for bringing up a topic that has plagued me for all of my teenage years (I’m 19). I’ve always had the problem of being really hairy. When I started puberty everything just became really obvious.

    I have conspicuous hairs everywhere you can think of: merging eyebrows, hair on my upper lip and below my bottom lip, hair on my chin, hair on my arms, even black hairs that grow out of my knuckles and on my toes, I have a ‘treasure trail’ going from my belly button to my pubic area. The worst thing I have is sideburns, and in high school and elementary quite a few boys commented on it. One guy asked why I didn’t shave it, I can only thank God that I didn’t get how embarrassing that actually was at the time.

    At 14, I start to understand that hair, much less the amount I had, was not socially acceptable. So I became obsessed with attacking my hairs, I tried to use nair on my face, but the chemicals in it made me face red, blotchy and itchy (and I’m black). I used it on my hairy arms (because a boy commented on it. ‘Ew’, I believe was the term used), but the hair only grew back thicker. Around 15 I pretty much gave up on all of it, because it was too much to deal with. Though I always shaved my legs and armpits.

    Around 17, I started again, only this time, I was much more comfortable with myself and I took a much more lax attitude to hair removal. I used on tweezer on my face, because it doesn’t leave me with that unnaturally smooth look, and the hairs grow back lighter. I trim my sideburns. Besides my legs and my armpits (in the summer), the rest of the hair stays. I really don’t have the time or the motivation to be removing anything else just to please people. The hair I remove is because it makes me look more polished.

    But I almost had a complex when I found out a lot of men like a hair-free pubic area (up until last year I just thought it was a porn thing)! But honestly I am not touching it, because I like how my pubic hair looks, call me insane but I like to think it provides a little modesty even when I’m naked (shrugs).

  26. lifeisannoying says:

    well, as a young black brit let me let you in on my perspective. My father’s family had some asian ancestry and they are so hairy. It is repulsive in men and women. hair traps bodily odour, it is not nice.
    i dislike hairy men , i do not think anyone should feel pressured against w hat they feel is hygienic. the prophet mohammud said that muslims should remove all bodily hair ( excepting beards for men). I am a christian but i have to agree.

  27. Josh Jasper says:

    I never pressure anyone I’m involved with to o one thing or another with body hair, and don’t think much of it really. Hairy is OK, hairless is OK. Whatever you like. But don’t claim people who’re different from you are icky and expect to be taken as an authority. You’re allowed not to like a certain body type, but recognize that that’s your strange preference, not the way people should be.

    I understand that most guys get some sort of cultural imprinting to dislike body hair on women. But the idea that it “traps body odor”? Dude, thats just more sillyness. People smell like people. Unless you’ve been a day without a shower, there’s nothing wrong with the way we smell. Human sweat is natural. from a theological standpoint, what sort of mad god would design people to have a scent, then expect them to be ashamed of it?

  28. Lady S says:

    I have a South Asian mother, but I’m very pale if I don’t get sun. So my hair has bothered me from a very early age as I grew up in a place where body hair isn’t something that most of the population have in the quantites that I do.

    The hair that bothers me most is my leg hair. I started trying to cut it off by the time I was 8. When I started shaving, my mother forbade it and made sure I waxed it instead.

    I love how that feels. I can’t shave anymore as it feels horrible to me, especially when it regrows. The problem with waxing/sugaring is it takes a while to regrow. So I’m getting more comfortable with being hairy. I’m often too lazy to wax my hair off. So it just grows for a while. Because I wax it takes a long time (I do underarms, legs, bikini line, eyebrows, mustache)

    I want there to be nothing wrong with being hairy, but there is a lot of shame attached to me being hairy that I find it hard sometimes and am really embarrassed. Strangely, none of the men who I’ve dated have really expressed any disapproval of my hairyness. My first boyfriend said he prefered that my legs were hairless, but it was really up to me. Other men have ranged from indifference to liking my hair. Indifference seems to be the norm for men I meet.

    No man I’ve met has demanded any sort of pubic hair grooming/waxing, nor expressed any preference at all. I trim and I find it more comfortable that way.

    I suppose that for me most of the shame has come from other women, especially when I was younger. Though I do note that teenage boys are especially critical.

    So what do I wish? I wish I could be comfortable with my hair and that other people would also be.

  29. RoC says:

    The most I can say is that I am extremely jealous of my (black) friends who do not have to shave at all. I have one friend who is half black, and half Seminole, and she IS essentially hairless from the eyebrows down (yes, I have seen her naked). She shaves her armpits maybe … never?

    I’m married to a person who doesn’t care much about shaving. I might be hairier than he is, except on the legs. I use Veet on my forearms a few times a year; my arms look thinner without hair. I’ve got sideburns, and I do look a lot more feminine and tidy without them; they are easily trimmed off at the hair shop, when I get my “kitchen” cleaned up. My eyebrows are pretty much left alone, though I wax them a few times a year when the salon person mentions it. I hate, hate, hate shaving my legs. I get stubble almost immediately, and because I seem to have latent, permanent “freckles” (I’m black!) under the first layer of skin, I have had people comment that I didn’t shave even when I had shaved THAT morning. Annoying.

    Like many other women here, I’m prone to ingrown hairs, so shaving the bikini line is a no-no, but I do it anyway sometimes (with itching, ingrown hairs and scarring as the result). Veet doesn’t work well there, and no way in hell am I waxing. I have given up on my bikini line. The best thing is to trim the pubes flat with little scissors; that is easy.

    The bane of my existence, however, is hair between my collarbone and my breasts. I could pluck forever, it seems. I’m very self conscious about it, and never wear low cut blouses or shirts. It is the worst thing. It’s too sparse to use a depilatory on; too sparse to shave; too numerous to pluck (and causes ingrowns). A treasure trail (from navel to pelvis) isn’t as big a deal; one can easily shave that. The chest hair is something women just aren’t supposed to have. Other women don’t tolerate it either, but unless you’ve had to deal with it, they should be quiet. They have no idea how hard it is to deal with!

  30. hafidha sofia says:

    I’m a modest dresser, so I don’t shave regularly except under the arms and in the summer months. Veet or Nair works well on my arm hair, but I haven’t had success with it on legs or elsewhere. Good luck with researching hair removal techniques that actually work. I look forward to your suggestions. I’m still baffled that we can have put numerous people on the moon, but we can’t come up with a simple body hair removal technique – or invent comfortable pantyhose that won’t run.

  31. tina says:

    My boyfriend loves my little shaved pussy. I like it to because it seems most “cute” girls shave theirs also. Besides it makes me feel about 15 yrs. younger. (im 28) makes me feel so clean and smooth and sexy and erotic.

  32. the angry black woman says:

    Um, far be it from me to be judgmental, but you want to feel like you’re 13? Also, the “cute” girls you know who shave, are they perhaps involved with pedophiles? I mean, yay that you feel sexy and all, but if you need to feel 13 in order to feel sexy, that could be a major problem.

  33. Veronica says:

    Heh. I remember what it was really like to be 13, and there’s not enough money in the world to pay me to feel like that again. No way.

  34. TierList E says:

    ^^ Ditto. . .

    *shudder* Possibly one of the worst years of my life.

  35. Lady S says:

    That is a big dose of creepy.

    I don’t like pressure either way. There is pressure from the mainstream to be hairless.

    There is also pressure in certain feminist groups that if you do remove your hair, you’re deluded in some way and not a real feminist.

    Neither is good.

  36. Berna says:

    Yep, I do pluck out the 3 thick hairs that grow pell-mell out of my chin, but otherwise I am a walking hairball…from the eyebrows down (actually, I have hair on the top of my head that is usually in a braid that tickles my butt). I am a feminist, but not shaving my legs has never been a political statement. I always assumed that it was laziness. I’m a busy woman and don’t have the time to keep up on shaving. I have thick, coarse, dark hair on my arms, legs, underarms, genitals…even (gasp) on my butt. I don’t quite have a unibrow, but there are thick hairs that grow between my brows, just aching to bring them together. I have a nice crop of hair on my upper lip that looks as spendid as Frida Kahlo’s (my brothers and I have a running joke that I can grow a better moustache than them – since we were teenagers). I have more hair on my breasts and chest area, than my brothers can grow on their chests. I am multi-racial (identify as Mestiza). My sister and I got the hairy genes and my brothers got the hairless genes. My sister’s doctor told her that she should go on hormones so that the hair on her arms and her facial hair would lighten and she would be more womanly. Yes, we also both have downy, light brown hair on our jawlines.

    I remember when I was a teenager, I was told by the coaches that I had to shave my legs to play basketball. I did it during basketball season, but only played basketball until 9th grade, so I quit shaving my legs after that (I’m 35 now). I’ve never shaved any other part of my body. The men and women I’ve been with have not commented on my body hair. My life partner (of 8 years) has commented on my body hair – she likes it. Yes, the hair under my pits creates a musk, but it’s my smell. During times when I know I’m going to be in public situations where I’m going to be producing a lot of persperation (like when I’m facilitating activities in schools or workshops), I’ll use a natural deodorant. My partner is relatively hairless on her arms, face, and body. She chooses to shave her legs and her arm pits occasionally, but I have to admit, I like the tufts that grow under her arms and love the thick curls that grow between her legs (which she’s never shaven).

    On rare occasions I wonder if I’d ever find a way to get rid of my moustache, but the feeling passes. Most times, I love the way it looks on me. I do feel fortunate to have partnered with people who have not been uptight about body hair. I’d like to think that I would not have shaven to please someone, but I don’t know that for sure. Also, I never wear shorts around my in-laws cuz of my hairy legs – my own fear, not becaus of any remarks they’ve made about my arms or facial hair.

  37. the angry black woman says:

    A company just offered to send me some bikini area waxing stencils. So, instead of a boring old landing strip, you can wax a lightning bolt or a clover or something. I really have no words for how I feel about this.

  38. DCMovieGirl says:

    I pluck the strays, regardless of where they grow.

    If they’re lone or way out in left field somewhere without company, it’s just some random mutation to me.

    I keep the between-the-legs-lawn mowed, but not completely bare. Not trying to look like a prepubescent girl, but less hair just feels and looks better to me. Less sweat, less hair catching in elastics, easier to keep clean.

    I shave my legs and underarms only when I know those parts will show.

  39. Diana says:

    I’ve had struggles with my self-image as it pertains to my body hair since puberty – and I’m 38 years old. I have a hairy father and so therefore am hairy. Eyebrows, face, arms, nipples, pubes, legs. I used to wax like crazy, even the tiny hairs on my fingers and hands because I couldn’t stand the look of it. Now I keep my brows moderately shaped because I genuinely think I look better. I wax my lip and chin because if I didn’t I would look like a pubescent boy. Politics aside (and yes, maybe I’m a hypocrite, but I am being true to myself here), I do not want to look that way. If I feel better about myself without hair on my face (which has only gotten worse as I’ve gotten older), then all the power to me. I will, however, go months without shaving anything below the neck. Yes, I’ll shave before wearing a skirt, but not if I’m just wearing shorts around the house.

    My husband is also hairy and I do worry, though, about having a daughter. I don’t want to pass my early hairy self-loathing on to her. I would want a daughter of mine to be happy with who she is (as hard as that is in this culture), but I also want to leave the window open to: if removing your hair makes you happy with who you are, then who am I to judge?

    Does that make sense?

  40. china blue says:

    I was introduced to the idea of removing all the down-there hair when I was 16. A friend at school said she did it for cultural (she was Hindu) and hygiene reasons.

    Fast forward 10 years. I start waxing (and then stop!) as an experiment. Boyfriends said they liked it, which gave me an incentive, not to mention a ‘just-waxed’ swagger as I was feeling rather sexual at the time :-)

    I think going hairless looks better, if we’re talking about facial hair, armpits, legs (depending on how much it shows on your skin). For down-there, it’s a matter of mood: smooth and silky, or with a delicious, well-kept fuzz that sends a frisson of excitement down a lover’s spine.

    I’ve grown up a lot and realised that even if people object to seeing my hairy pits in the gym, I’m not there to impress them, and no matter what they say, I’ll be as hairy as I want to be. Long story short: the last part of that sentence sums up my feelings.

  41. funambulator says:

    A year ago, I was a shave-when-things-got-really-long kind of person, but since then, I’ve been through 5 months of chemotherapy, which really changed the way I think about body hair.

    When I did chemo, I lost not only the hair on my head, but my eyebrows, eyelashes, and pubes.

    Now, to me, hair is a sign that my body is healthy again and doing what it’s supposed to do, and is no longer being subjected to anything poisonous!

  42. Adam says:

    Well…here it goes…

    First, let me say that men are affected by the hair thing in slightly, yet goofy ways.

    I keep my head shaved, nearly down to the skin. But, I keep the goatee. My wife likes how that looks. This look, coupled with being over 6’0 and over 260 pounds has advantages. The Chicago- mafia contract killer image gets me interesting results in public. I lean closer to the server in the restaurant and say (very politely and softly)…” Sir, I am still waiting on my coffee.” (Yet, I am as easy going as a Benedictine monk.)
    It makes me look older and I tend to be taken more seriously by older men (and women) in the workplace. I fit in with the 50 somethings very well …though I am 33.

    I suspect I will cave into ways to look younger 20 years from now.

    I keep the hair on my chest, but I hate having it on my back and in my ears, and my nasal cavities. Yes, I have had to use everything from tweesers to those sticky bandage type patches one uses to rip hair off for my back.

    Everything beneath the waist down I have never dealt with, except for when I had to shave everything off before a vasectomy. Man, that was and awkward experience. I did not do a good job, I knicked myself a few times.

    Concerning my own spouse, I have no preference. I abhor an industry that convinces women they do not look good without cosmetics. Like cosmetics, the hair thing is a cultural thing. While I have great respect for enterprising women who build their home businesses on cosmetics (like Avon or Mary Kay), I am careful to not perpetuate the idea that a woman needs cosmetics to my two daughters.

  43. Changeseeker says:

    This has been a schizoid issue for me. Back in the 60’s and 70’s, the folks I was around didn’t believe in shaving, so I didn’t shave, though my tendency most of the time was to cover the hair (with long pants or sleeves) because I wasn’t really cool with it. After that, I started shaving my legs and underarms again and kept it up until I my daughter was old enough to point out that I had very light, thin, and little hair on my legs even if I let it grow — which, of course, meant that I often went without shaving it (while still shaving my armpits because I’ve never felt comfortable with armpit hair). I’ve always known it was all cultural, but I couldn’t seem to buck the compunction to shave. Now, I’m older and my hair is thinning everywhere. And I wish I had it back, of course. What a odd thing to have such power over us.

  44. the angry black woman says:

    If any of you would like to share your thoughts on this issue (and the products you use) on the site where my article will eventually appear, click on over to this blog post.

  45. hannah says:

    i’m really pale with dark curly hair, my nickname in jr. high was woulverine, thanks to some cruel jocks . so needless to say, i’m a bit obessive about body hair. i used to try and remove everything, legs, pits, facial, even back and neck, with a bit too much gusto. recently i realized i’m the only one inspecting my face and mellowed out alot, mainly after two boyfriends told me it’s alright that i’m not a hairless cat lol.

    as far as the pubic region goes, i’m on again off again with removing the hair. my boyfriend mentioned i’m the only one he’s dated who didn’t remove it, and he’d feel a bit more comfortable if there was less of it *in all fairness, he removes his* being hairless down there, while a pain in the ass to achieve, is so comfortable, it feels cleaner for some weird reason. i can see why people would find it infantilizing, but at the same time, it’s just smoother and more pleasent, i don’t think people are actively equating hairless with child, i think it’s just in the same category as armpit hair, something funky that needs to be groomed. (i’m just stating that from my personal experiences, not as some general cultural statement. )

    if it didn’t take stupid amounts of time and a constant supply of fresh razors, i’d do it more often.

  46. nc says:

    Ooooooooh, body hair – a recurring melodrama in my life. I am a noticeably hairy person. I have fine, black, long hairs on my legs, arms, lower back, and cheeks. I have short, black, downy hairs everywhere else (knuckles, chest, inner thighs and inner arms, shoulders, etc.). I have course dark hairs that frame my ‘sacred yoni’ (tee-hee!), that are speckled around my nipples, and that show up sporadically on my chin. If I was to fight the good fight against my body hair, which I have considered doing in the past, I would have crumpled with defeat. In general, I don’t mind the hair on my legs, arms, pits and pubes: I like them smooth and I like them hairy, it just depends on my mood. I love my eyebrows; they’re full and dark and I think they suit my features.

    It’s the hair on my face that’s problematic. Because I am so hairy, I have spent many, many hours in the beauty salon, getting my sideburns, cheeks, chin, forehead, upper lip, lower lip and neck waxed and threaded. As the years passed, it became an increasingly humiliating experience. More than once, I stood outside the salon — all rosy-cheeked, polished, and “clean’’ — sobbing because having to alter my face in such an extensive, painful and embarrassing way only reinforced the fear of how fundamentally ugly I felt I was.

    However, a couple years ago I had a truly life-changing epiphany about beauty and body image, and I no longer look at my body with shame. This is not to say that I now love my hairiness, but that I no longer hate it and I don’t believe that I am unlovable or worthless because of it. (God help me, as soon as I get the chance, am going to electrolosyzzze that stuff off. I like the look and feel of a hairless face.) But in the meantime, I enjoy being me and I enjoy experiencing life through my body.

    On an individual level, I have no problem with hair removal. I think it should be a personal choice. But I do think that hair-removal on a mainstream societal level is a feminist issue. Expecting women to be hairless, poreless, wrinkle-free, etc., is an effective way to dehumanize them. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the other shoe has dropped and I’ve noticed an increase in unrealistic beauty standards for men. Maybe this will start a dialogue about the destructiveness of a homogenous, oppressive and thoroughly artificial standard of beauty. Maybe it won’t – there is a lot of money to be made playing off of people’s insecurities. But God bless the internet; it’s been an invaluable resource for me in my search for body diversity and acceptance.

  47. E-Visible Woman says:

    My relationship with my body hair is hugely complicated – I just wrote a huge blog post about it, so I won’t clog up your page recounting it all again.

  48. Olympia Moss says:

    I am one of these insane women who regularly plucks off a large portion of my eyebrows just to draw the eyebrows in with a pencil. I know this is ridiculous…but my brows don’t grow in “correctly” and I have eyebrow issues.

    I also have a little mini trimmer that I use to remove the hair on my upper lip. It is very blonde, and not at all noticable usually, but sweat will accumulate on the “upper-lip fiuzz” and it makes me feel unattractive.

    Paridoxically, I don’t shave all that often. Once a week, usually. I rarely wear shorts or skirts, and I have been with my husband for almost six years…he witnessed me give birth to our child; a little armpit hair doesn’t freak him out.

    I don’t shave my pubes, either, but I do trim them, This is mostly for comfort – when things get too bushy (forgive me) down south the hairs will get caught in my undies.


  49. grrl says:

    I know no one has left a comment since April, but I can’t help but reply to this fascinating topic.

    I once met a woman who said she shaves her legs but once a year– during fire safety month, for safety reasons lol.

    I have shaved my legs and pits once since the summer of 2007 for my high school graduation. I don’t like the act of shaving, I don’t like the raw red sensation of hairlessness and I don’t like the political implications of altering my body for the sake of “beauty.” I went to a conservative all-girls religious school, and for the sake of avoiding a spectacle, I shaved for graduation (we were required to wear [virginal] white dresses and white gloves for the graduation ceremonies. i wish i were joking.)

    I have appreciated being able to regrow body hair in this last month and get back to my old self. Truthfully, I am often self-conscious about the unusual practice of being true to my own body, but the compliments and looks of approval from fellow pro-woman individuals far outweigh the negative comments directed at me, usually from boys my own age.

  50. KJ says:

    I found this website looking up political information and had seen the Pokemon spoof and greatly enjoyed it. However, when I saw this topic below I knew I needed to reply. Body hair has plagued my mind since I was 11, and at 23 it’s still annoying.

    My father is a VERY hairy man, and I got all the hair from his side of the family. Awesome.

    I have bushy (non unibrow) eyebrows, which I enjoy despite myself being the only lady I know who doesn’t pluck/wax/shave them. Seriously. I get the occasional comment about them, but I like leaving them alone. I waxed them once, it didn’t hurt that bad, and they looked nice, but I have always loved good expressive eyebrows, and fucking with mine wasn’t my deal.

    I have chin hair, some neck hairs, a very fine mustache, and mole hairs, all which get shaved at least once a week. They drive me crazy, especially the chin. When I get absent minded or am pensive I touch my face, so facial hair = NO.

    Once a week at least the pits get shaved, I’m fat and therefore I sweat and stink, so it’s a necessity. Also, shaved pits feel better to me.

    From my very lower back down I am fuzzy. I am considering using nail or another hair removal technique to remove butt/back/lower belly hair because I feel ugly with super dark hair all over my bottom parts. That said, I don’t go Lolita and shave the sheath. Ingrown hairs, razorburn, red bumps, the look, and the absolute annoyance of being shaved/shaving down there doesn’t set well with me. However, I do trim it so it isn’t the mighty amazon, both for my own comfort and the boy’s.

    Legs get shaved when they need to. Shorts, dress, skirt, going to bed with the boy- shaved. Pants or none of the above? Fuck that. When the hairs get long it feels nice, just as when they are fully shaved it is nice. The stubble? not so much.

  51. Q... says:

    I have been shaving since puberty. My naturally dark hair against my paler legs, in my opinion is unattractive and I wear a lot of skirts and dresses. I love the feel of smooth skin wherever possible. I use an electric razor, inexpensive Bic disposables or Nair– depending on time.

  52. Devan says:

    I’m a guy, and I shave my face, armpits, and “bikini zone.” I do this, unbidden, for several reasons.

    Face: I like to see what my face looks like. Everyone with copious facial hair ends up looking the same. I also get really annoyed when my beard hair starts catching on EVERYTHING. Plus, my girlfriend deserves kisses from a soft, smooth, non-stinky/hairy/whatever set of lips.

    Pits: I don’t do this every day or anything, and I wouldn’t care that much if my girl was the same way (she shaves every day, though, and always has, as she just really doesn’t like the feeling of having prickly hair on her body and every shaveable part of her body in the time it takes me to do my face). I shave here maybe once or twice a month, basically keeping it around a quarter of an inch or lower. I do this because it raises the effectiveness of antiperspirant and I like the silhouette better if I’m wearing a tank top or something. Pit hair will also hang on to sweat and stink more than hairless skin, so off it goes!

    Pubes: This I will not budge on. I do it out of respect for the girl I am with, and I expect her to do the same. Basically if I am going to have my mouth all over something that’s going to be getting pretty sweaty and slimy, I would VASTLY PREFER it not also be filling my mouth with hair and getting caught in my teeth and whatnot. Plus it makes the area smell better (this is true for guys and girls).

    As for legs, I dunno. I shaved my legs once just to see what it was like. They felt wet for a long time after. It was strange. I chalk up the girls-shave-legs-guys-don’t thing like this. Girls’ clothing, pants especially, are more likely to be fitted and contoured to the shape of the female body. Men’s attire fits more like a geometric shape that men are installed into. Women’s attire plays off the natural beauty of the feminine shape, all opposing curves and whatnot. Having hair under close-fitting pants all the time would get really annoying.

    Before you attack the horrible patriarchy for enforcing clean-shavedness on your downtrodden sisters, think of this first. Shaving may be unnatural, but you know what else is? Clothing. And civilization. Sometimes we alter “natural” behaviors because we, as a society, feel we have evolved past them regardless of whether our physical evolution agrees. This is not necessarily bad, for instance that mindset is what has kept Stephen Hawking alive even though nature says he should be dead, and he obviously has much to offer the world, right? If living in a civilized society and wearing clothing is made less appealing by having ungroomed body hair, it is within the rights and abilities of a person to edit that hair if they so choose.

    I am not one of those people that expects a girl I’m with to pluck her eyebrows away to nothing, shave her arms, wear a ton of makeup, etc., and that’s okay. I have a beautiful girl I love with all my heart and we are both perfectly comfortable and happy with each other’s aforementioned level of grooming and hygiene. There may be people that would want more, and that’s okay, as there is someone out there for them that is more than happy to accomodate that. There may be people, such as yourself, who don’t want to put in that much effort and that is also fine, as you will find someone out there who is comfortable and happy with your described level of grooming.

    What I’m getting at is that you don’t need to “speak for all women” or “for everyone” or rail against this perceived injustice, as your answers may not be right for everyone. Decide what you like for yourself, and let other people choose what they like without you telling them they should feel bad for it.

  53. Stephanie says:

    Alright, I just saw this now and read a bunch of the previous posts and I have to say something about it. When I read this I thought, ‘finally someone who agrees with me on this’.

    It is RIDICULOUS that anyone should be made to feel inferior because they take a natural approach to hair. And that’s what it does. You see people saying logically it makes no sense, but they still feel BADLY and ASHAMED about having body hair. If you want to shave do it, but there shouldn’t be a preference for one or the other, because what that does is perpetuate that preference onto others. And you want to know why it’s REALLY popular to be hairless? Because now you’re spending money for the rest of your life battling it making companies a fortune.

    I’m a girl, but I’m not a feminist. As some people have reasoned on their own, doing stupid things just doesn’t make sense whether it’s women doing them or men. I think women do a ton of retarded things to themselves (men as well) for no reason! If everyone just left well enough alone people wouldn’t feel horrible about being hairy.

    And for the record being hairless is in no way more or less hygienic so that is utter crap. You aren’t less clean if you have hair. Does having hair on your head make your scalp a less clean place? Just shower, wear deodorant and you’ll be clean and smell less. THAT is being hygienic, showering. What a concept!

    And for the post above mine, clothes should be optional as well. But see even clothes serve more of a purpose than shaving. Clothes at least keep you warm. And civilization is an ambiguous term I think. People living in social groups and caring for one another was probably in place when we were climbing around in the trees still, so technically that is actually natural.

    Anyway, you can say people who like being hairy shouldn’t make people who shave feel badly, but then why should we feel badly? How is it more alright to bash a hairy person than a non-hairy person? Not that I’m saying that’s what you were doing, just using that as a vague sample for a general statement. People do this with all sorts of things. Weight, race, ethnicity (not the same as race), curly hair vs. straight hair, everything. What is the need to make other people feel like crap? God… know what? I’m moving. This culture is driving me crazy.

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