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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This article has 285 comments. Post your own now!

ElisabethElizzLiz said...
Nov. 26, 2009 at 1:40 pm
Although (no offense) i would never go without shaving for even a week, i hate to shave. And i think that if people had a different outlook on this natural feat, then sociaty would be more accepting of natures beaty.
ElisabethElizzLiz replied...
Nov. 26, 2009 at 1:41 pm
Oh by the way not to be a spammer but you should read my poem called "This Damn Addiction"
caitlin.calamity said...
Nov. 25, 2009 at 11:25 pm
I think you are a courageous young woman. I personally HATE the feeling of wearing pants and having my leg hair feeling all picky. It irritates my skin. I've gone weeks without shaving my legs before and I just didn't like the feeling. Now if only everyone else was as openminded as you.
yelsse<3 said...
Nov. 24, 2009 at 8:40 pm
I meant brave woman!(:
yelsse<3 said...
Nov. 24, 2009 at 8:40 pm
Wow this is so GOOD! And i completely agree with you about shaving(: You are a brace woman!(:
CHSLitKid4ever This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 22, 2009 at 7:52 pm
You should read my article "The Eye of the Beholder." I love yours! Even though I do shave and like it, I understand your point and wish I was as strong as you to rise above conformity.
ambermarie<3 said...
Nov. 20, 2009 at 9:01 am
rosy said...
Nov. 13, 2009 at 8:18 pm
yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees u are soooooooooooooooo my role model. i hate that crap about all those girls who say their different but their not like the care bears on fire song "i dont wanna be like everybody else". But they dress like frickin rockers with the gay skinny jeans n the bangs to the side. im sorry for the exaggeration n rudeness but all i wanna say is thank u for being different even though this is creepy cuz i dont even know u but i can DEFINETLY relate to you no offense to t... (more »)
Caroline35 said...
Nov. 10, 2009 at 3:14 pm
Your piece is amazing and very true. I myself never shaved my leg but I'm blond so noboby sees it. People around me tell me I'm lucky. I do think some people must do that for the wrong reason. And I do understand that, when you stopped shaving, you felt plain, but you can also admit that sometimes, it's just a taste people have. I sometimes think of my hair as anoying. It has nothing to do with the media, it's just me, thinking something about myself. Like trying another hair... (more »)
spontaneous09 said...
Nov. 9, 2009 at 9:16 pm
Shaving should not be a thing about what society thinks. It should be what you think. I personally shave but only because I like the feel of smoothness of my legs. I wanted to shave far before I heard about the mold of beauty that people try to place you in.
BillyJoeBobKellyGeorge This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 8, 2009 at 8:04 pm
I think this article was very insightful in something as trivial as shaving. but then again, if you think about it, people shave for beauty although they should accept their inner/outer beauty regardless. Personally, i don't shave my legs at all. ;]
firstsnowfalls This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 8, 2009 at 5:57 pm
I'm so proud of you for doing that! Takes a lot of guts!
Joanna.S said...
Nov. 8, 2009 at 2:02 pm
I give you kudos for writing this article. It really makes me think of how girls are, and how shaving products are advertised.
AsToldByRachel said...
Nov. 8, 2009 at 11:48 am
I really like this. I'm a swimmer and during training season we're not allowed to shave our legs. Yes, i know that sounds crazy but our coach says it will "create drag" and make it harder for us to swim- it doesn't. The real reason we don't shave is because it creates team unity because I guess looking like a gorilla brings people together- and anyways, my hair keeps me warm :) sometimes it's awkward in gym class when im wearing shorts and i catch someone stari... (more »)
tippytoetapper This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 8, 2009 at 9:07 am
This obsession with nonconformity worries me greatly. The "norm" developed for a reason. Society would not have developed the way it did if no one liked the boundaries being created. If you seriously find it more comfortable then good for you, but if you stopped shaving just to prove a point then you're sacrificing much more than you're proving.
CHSLitKid4ever This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 22, 2009 at 7:51 pm
I disagree. Conformity isn't nessecerily a good thing. It's okay if you want to conform, but "the norm" is simply what some people feel you have to adhere to. And I disagree with your point about society being created and everyone liking the boundaries. Says who? I think that if someone wants to stand out, then that's great, otherwise the world would be exceptionally boring.
tippytoetapper This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 22, 2009 at 7:53 pm
All I was saying is that do what makes you happy because it makes you happy, not because it doesn't make other people happy. Nonconformity is awesome if the unusual thing you are doing makes you happy, but if you are doing it just to be different that bothers me.
LivingInLiterature said...
Nov. 8, 2009 at 1:05 am
This article is great. I'm so happy for you that you have found a way to "break free". However, please don't make it sound like everyone who chooses to shave or remove their body hair is a corporate slave. I choose to remove my body hair because I want to. I love how soft and smooth my skin is after I wax (I don't shave). Its a personal choice, and while I respect yours not to, I hope you can also respect mine. Every person is different, and life is too short to do somet... (more »)
penguin35 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 30, 2009 at 3:21 pm
I agree. This article kind of makes it sound like no one should shave. Unfortunately, I think body hair on women is kind of gross (no offense) and I wish no one ever started shaving or else it would seem normal.
Nelle This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 6, 2009 at 3:32 pm
I think this is amazing! It's so true the media has too much influence. I so wish that I had the confidence to try this but I really am way too shy and I ahte that I do care what other people think. But, I'm afraid I really do.
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