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

August 18, 2008
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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magic-esi This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 5, 2010 at 7:50 pm
I shave under my arms because it itches there, but I don't shave my legs because it's stupid. I shaved them once and the trouble was too much for me. And people who shave their (well, you know what I mean) are just gross, if you ask me. People will talk about my hairy legs and act like I'm some sort of disfigured monkey for a few hairs, but I look at their pale legs and I think it's just as weird.
magic-esi This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Mar. 5, 2010 at 7:51 pm
I forgot to write about the article, I was so obsessed with myself! Well, besides the fact that I COMPLETELY agree with you, the article is written extremely well. I couldn't have said it better.
green-eyed-angle said...
Feb. 27, 2010 at 10:03 pm
I think we all need to be differant. It is kinda funny how there is a man shaving right on this same page
evrycloudyday7 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Mar. 2, 2010 at 3:53 pm
I can't believe you lost some friends because you stopped shaving! that's ridiculous! btw, i admire your confidence! but i prefer shaving bc i like the way my skin feels after it =)
brainiac said...
Feb. 13, 2010 at 8:41 pm
I like your article. I never liked shaving but my mom makes a big deal of it sometimes.
fiftiesgal467 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 12, 2010 at 3:45 pm
I definitely understand where you're coming from, and I respect your choice. Having no hair has become part of being beautiful; it's so sad. How did shaving even come about? It'r really an odd concept: taking a blade and cutting your hair off. The ironic thing is that there is a pop-up ad next to your article for laser hair removal.
virus7 said...
Feb. 5, 2010 at 11:26 am
wow. if they stopped being your friend because of hair they are dumb. i see where your coming from and its cool your making a statement. im a dude so maybe i should start shaving to prove a point lol.
Sara! said...
Feb. 2, 2010 at 3:14 pm
I definitely agree with you. I am SO glad you wrote this post. Thank-you!~Sara
jeanwolf said...
Jan. 23, 2010 at 6:31 pm
I really like this article! you are truely inspirational.I don't shave very often but I steal do just beacuse it makes me feel clean.
kindyxkandy said...
Jan. 21, 2010 at 9:16 am
No, if your doing things to impress a guy that means you take pride in the way you look, as he should too. Sorry not all guys want to date a hairy girl, personally, I find hair repulsive. And don't tell me it's my molded thinking, thats a personal opinion. Hair looks gross, and makes you smell worse during the summer. Shaving is more for personal hygiene then anything else.
Riley Griffin replied...
Mar. 13, 2010 at 12:18 pm
What you wrote was seriously ignorant and body hair is for protection, its both healthier and more hygienic than shaving. And, shaving is largely in part to the culture we live in. Many women in Paris don't shave and get plenty of men, back before shaving existed you can't possibly have believed that people gave a flying f word if someone else or themselves were hairy. Just so you know.
Moonlight said...
Jan. 17, 2010 at 4:37 pm
You are truley an amazing women. I can not say that you have inspired me to stop shaving since I'm not much of a hair lover, but I do know that I have a stronger belief in not fitting in to the "mold" after reading your story.
Congrats said...
Jan. 14, 2010 at 9:18 pm
Well, from this you discovered who your REAL friends are.
emmylove replied...
Mar. 7, 2010 at 2:45 am
lol i love how this person's name is congrats. anyway, i think it's totally awesome that you can defy peer pressure. but you had no luck changing my mind. i still think it's nasty
muminah said...
Jan. 13, 2010 at 12:02 pm
I loved this article and you have no idea how much you impressed me! You have a strong personality and lots of guts and willpower. Its people like you that change the world and deserved to be looked up to. Rock on girl =]
mizzstarz said...
Jan. 13, 2010 at 8:56 am
I get what you're saying. It's like, people are sooo bad about this type of stuff. But like you said, it's ingorance. People so grow up.
The~crayon~in~my~heart said...
Jan. 9, 2010 at 5:31 pm
hmm, well i never even thought about it. i shave because it makes me feel clean, and im way into feeling clean, physically and phycologically~ i would take a zillion showers a day if water didnt cost a ton~ but thats me. my sis doesnt shave, because she thinks shaving is creepy~ well to each his/her own opinion
jessi_lee said...
Jan. 9, 2010 at 3:31 pm
I just wanted to say that I love this post. Kudos to you for being so bold and so awesome. I struggle with body issues that stem from the fact that even when I shave, I can still (clearly) see all of the dark hairs underneath. (This sounds silly probably, but it's a huge issue. I never want my boyfriend to see me naked!).
Reading this post made me realize that my views are probably silly, and it made me feel better to know that someone out there is trying to change things. Thank... (more »)
writer-in-pearls said...
Jan. 5, 2010 at 6:17 pm
Everyone can do what they want, but, honestly, I don't see what the big deal is. Why is it wrong to do things that boys find attractive, I want to date guys that are attractive and physically fit, they want to date girls that are at least within a healthy BMI, shave, and look good for them.
crazycreative23 replied...
Jan. 9, 2010 at 10:26 pm
but... if you're doing things to oimpress a guy, he's only judging you based on appearace, not on the things that matter...
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