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A Hairy Tale This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Open your average Seventeen magazine and look at the ads. What are they selling? Razors. I find that perfectly acceptable; people shave and therefore need razors. There is something, however, that I’m not comfortable with: the message. Gillette Venus advertises that shaving your legs will help you release your “inner goddess.” Schick Quattro for Women says that shaving will free you. Nair has its own brand for women called Nair Pretty! What is this saying to the young women of America? They are being forced into an unnatural mold that is ruling their lives and ravaging girls’ self-esteem. What we eat, what we wear, how we act – it is all guided by the ultimate (virtually hairless) woman every man supposedly desires, and I have had enough.

Shaving is an American custom, and a foolish one at that. If we took the time to see the injustice in the social hierarchy our nation is built ­upon, perhaps we could understand beauty in a natural body. I realized how much time I wasted mutilating my body with a razor blade. How can people look positively on that? Whenever I shaved, I cut myself, which isn’t enjoyable. The constant stress of wondering Do I need to shave? is a nuisance. There was no reason for me to continue shaving if I didn’t want to.

So I stopped. The first day of summer, I put down the razor, thinking, Maybe I’ll just try this for a week. At that point it wasn’t even about the media’s incessant pressure, or rebellion against conventional thinking; I stopped purely for comfort. Even though my hair has grown, I realize how comfortable it has made me. It feels as though I’ve opened up a whole new part of my body I didn’t know I had. I feel ­closer to myself and more confident in my body. I wear tank tops and skirts; I’m proud of my body hair. I like to show it off, even for shock value. The choice is mine and I made it.

People talk about it, of course. I’ve lost friends ­because of it, which makes me realize that if someone is ignorant enough to worry about the state of my hair, I shouldn’t be associating with that person in the first place. It hurts to know that those I once valued and cared about are simply conforming clones, and it hurts to hear strangers, even small children, make rude comments about my body hair. I know my friends talk about it with their friends, saying, “She’s the girl with the armpit hair.”

Sometimes I feel like it’s going to prevent me from getting dates, with the way people react to it (mostly teenage boys, howling about how disgusting it is). One of my best friends told me that it was a bad choice. He said the fact that I didn’t shave made him angry, that my body hair made him angry. Needless to say, I don’t speak to him anymore.

Teenage girls judge me just as harshly. Another friend threatened, jokingly, to shave me in my sleep. I know there are girls reading this right now thinking, Shaving ­isn’t that hard. Stop whining and making such a big deal. Body hair is nasty! You were raised to think that way. In your home, on your television, in your bathtub, by your peers, they raised you to believe body hair is gross. I was raised that way too, but I broke through it.

My closest friend tells me that she considered not shaving under her arms, but she would never stop shaving her legs because she thinks she is too hairy. Nobody should judge you as too hairy. I want to scream, “Stop letting other people decide what you are and what you’re not!”

Acceptance is important to people, and yet I don’t understand how some can accept the biggest differences in people – sexual orientation, race, religion – yet find my disdain for shaving revolting and intolerable. You wouldn’t tell Jewish people that their yarmulkes are gross and that they should take them off, so why would you tell me that my body hair is vile and I should shave?

I question the fate of our generation. Think about it: if Miley Cyrus stopped shaving, adolescent girls all over the world would too. Most people will venture to say that they are different from everyone else, but they aren’t.

You can choose to focus on the physical aspect of what I’m doing, and you can point and laugh at my body hair. Or you can take the time to look deep into your beliefs about American culture and see that I have actually freed myself from corporate oppression. You can look down on me for being happy with the natural state of my body, or you can look up to me for thinking for myself and having the guts to say no to peer pressure. The choice is yours.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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SophiaCross said...
Jun. 6, 2013 at 7:24 pm
I absolutely  love this article, and am very glad they actually put it in the magazine! You are incredibly gutsy to defy the social norms "standard" of beauty, and you have my complete and total support. Hair and all, I support your cause!
 
HiddengoldTee This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 21, 2013 at 10:20 am
This is beautiful and reminds me that almost everything we do is because we are brainwashed by the media which is kind of a scary thought... What are we? Do we really make our own choices? It so happens that I only shave in the summer though I don't have the guts to flaunt it but I don't hide that fact that I don't shave either.
 
HiddengoldTee This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 21, 2013 at 10:31 am
But wait... Why is it any different than wearing a bra? Great point though!
 
absconditus This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 24, 2013 at 8:30 am
I think this is great. I am still going to shave, but I really admire you looking past what the world tells us. I have really curly hair, and I used to straighten it a lot. I never straighten it now and I love it so much more!
 
SFeathery This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 31, 2012 at 5:35 pm
Well, to contribute: I grew up in a home with foreign parents; they don't shave, so i never thought much about it. And I've always  been a little out of touch with the "norm" (no cable tv, smartphone, etc) so I've never been told too many times that body hair was gross and whatnot. But you know, society gets to you and slowly i started to "realize" (emphasis on air quotes) how "disgusting" arm/leg hair was. so i shaved. once. after that, i realize... (more »)
 
Kathryn_H said...
Dec. 21, 2012 at 5:52 pm
This was an interesting article and good for you for standing up for what you believe in, but I'm not going to stop shaving. I know you say that I was taught to believe in shaving, but I personally just don't like the way body hair looks.
 
theatregirlThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Oct. 14, 2012 at 12:41 pm
i respect opinion, but personally i thing not shaving your under arm hair is discussing and cause batercial to grow under your arm. it have come too! we live in country where sub-culture of people who simply hate everything consider popular or normal and do crazy stuff simply because "they have right" and don't compare this to jewish people wearing yarmulkes. they wear yarmulkes for a reason, to show religion. you don't shave because you don't like and and enjoy  &... (more »)
 
lkk4209This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Dec. 2, 2013 at 7:32 pm
Not to be rude, but is English your second language? Anyway, you claim to respect the author's opinion, but you proceed to accuse her of being lazy and attention seeking, which is hardly respectful! There is nothing in her article that indicates she fits either of those descriptions. Furthermore, who's to say she isn't promoting positive body image or fighting sexism? She's clearly proud of her body, despite refusal to conform to gender norms. I'd say she's doing both!
 
BlueSunset said...
Sept. 15, 2012 at 6:05 am
I absolutely love your article, however this doesn't only happen in America, it happens all around the world. I have been fed up now for years about society modifying us by their command and we have no chance to be ourselves physically, unless we decide to break free from that globe of "pretty people" and fend for ourselves. I think you have a lot of courage to stand up for yourself and be who you are, I honestly do hope that many many other girls, even boys, read this ar... (more »)
 
QueenOfAirAndDarkness said...
Apr. 6, 2012 at 9:30 am
I respect you and your views. If it makes you uncomfortable shaving, then go ahead and not shave. But I personally feel disgusting if I don't shave. Don't tell me that I'm conforming to peer pressure, but I feel all gross and hot and... just disgusting if I don't shave. But it's your own choice to not shave, and I respect you for standing up for what you believe in.
 
beautifulspiritThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 29, 2012 at 4:35 pm
Well, I will admit that the thought of shaving exhausts me sometimes. Sometimes I just don't feel like it. But I feel the same way about waking up, using a flat iron on my hair, etc. I'm just a lazy girl:) no jk But seriously, I feel more comfortable without the hair tickling me. But I do wonder that in an alternate universe, if young girls and women were told or influenced by the notion that going "au natural" is the norm, would more women have hairy armpits? I remember when I was ten and I ask... (more »)
 
FrenchHippie said...
Dec. 27, 2011 at 2:15 pm
Thank you so much for this article! I think that your ideas are true about so many things. I do shave and will continue to do so, but that isn't even really the point of what you are doing. We do things and think things just because we have been taught to do that. Be strong and do what YOU believe, not what everyone else believes.
 
monkeyfeet said...
Dec. 17, 2011 at 11:38 pm
I think you're ridiculous.  This girl is absolutely right--people shave because of peer pressure and the standard 'norm', and because they grew up with it.  People in Europe don't shave because they aren't pressured to do so.  I don't shave, and it's hard with the pressure, but it has made me more confident, and you shoudl try it too: accept yourself!  
 
theatregirlThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Oct. 14, 2012 at 12:44 pm
agreed! thier point when stop "fighting for what believe in" and simply do weird thing for attention. i find that by not shaving, you being selfish because it make other people feel uncoformtable. in american,, we very  induvialistic, to point where be we forgot that when make choice that very public, like shaving, not only use have deal with our choose other do too
 
YourBearOverlord replied...
Jun. 28, 2013 at 10:24 pm
@theatregirl, You're agreeing with someone who believes in not shaving. That’s the opposite of your point of view. ;P
 
billy12 said...
Dec. 1, 2011 at 7:41 am
Wow... shave please....gracias
 
theatregirlThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Oct. 14, 2012 at 12:46 pm
agreed! thier point when stop "fighting for what believe in" and simply do weird thing for attention. i find that by not shaving, you being selfish because it make other people feel uncoformtable. in american,, we very  induvialistic, to point where be we forgot that when make choice that very public, like shaving, not only use have deal with our choose other do too
 
ManekiNeko said...
Nov. 29, 2011 at 8:06 am
I used to be embarressed of my hairy arms when I was younger. I never wore short sleeves, ever. And then I started shaving; I did so on and off for four or five years before deciding that the itching and the nicks were just not worth it. Because I'm virtually blind without my glasses, I always  had such trouble anyways and what was the point when I had red itch bumps for three days afterwards? (My skin is really sensitive.) So I stopped shaving my legs. But I do occasionally shave my armpit... (more »)
 
ADifferentKindOfPrincess said...
Nov. 16, 2011 at 5:23 pm
I am going to continue to shave! I do agree with you though...there ar a lot of things girls and boys feel pressured to do. This is really good! And good for you and the not shaving idea. You are braver than I am!
 
Claire_AThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Dec. 20, 2012 at 9:06 pm
I feel the same way, ADifferentKindOfPrincess
 
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