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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Jiveturkey said...
Nov. 3, 2009 at 9:21 pm
Wow, this article is amazing. This is a topic that hasn't really been discussed or brought up before and you have got some guts to put it up here. I really look up to you for that. I'm not gonna stop shaving, but this has totally made me stop and think about things and the way society sees women.
dancer4jesus said...
Oct. 17, 2009 at 10:17 pm
Wow, that takes so much courage! great job standing up for what you believe in and not conforming to today's world! This is an issue that so many people are pressured about! It is crazy!
. said...
Oct. 17, 2009 at 10:10 pm
Interesting insight. I don't think I'll stop shaving, but it really made me think about it.
Fayrouz This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 17, 2009 at 9:11 pm
Shaving isn't just a part of looking "good," it's about personal cleanliness as well. But I do agree with you, society is SO obsessed with the way an ideal woman should look like.
Josephine A. said...
Oct. 17, 2009 at 6:18 pm
GiveMeABreak24 said...
Oct. 17, 2009 at 5:14 pm
I love this article! I don't shave, but have been really self concious about it. I've had this thought many times-especially while looking at magazine ads. I look up to you for your braveness and the willfullness to share the lovely feeling of being yourself with TeenInk. You opened new doors for many!
iluvwriting This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 17, 2009 at 4:53 pm
Wow, I'm really impressed. I shave, but I'm terrible at remembering and, generally, in the winter, don't. But it really makes the reader think about what they're doing...You're inspirational. Thank you.
penguin35 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 30, 2009 at 3:23 pm
Yeah, me too. If I'm wearing long pants and long sleeves, I only shave like once a week.
KiraKira said...
Oct. 17, 2009 at 2:11 pm
This article really makes the reader think. I shave only because when I sweat it smells bad and it feels weird when wearing tight pants. Only reason. But that is my opinion, and even if a movie star did stop shaving I wouldn't because I wouldn't care. However, you are taking a great step towards making girls around the world think more highly of themselves, which is a feat in itself. Great job.
auna123 said...
Oct. 17, 2009 at 1:13 am
great work! i shave but just b/c it feels weirs having leg hair. i don't think i will ever stop shaving. i really respect your opinion. its great you really stand up for what you believe in it takes a lot of guts to do that. good job
Erica807 said...
Sept. 25, 2009 at 10:59 pm
It's a very well-written piece and I have to admit I never thought of shaving as unnecessary before. I'd pondered the reasons behind beauty and what has set the standards for "beautiful" today, but I'd never thought about hair specifically. Thank you for pointing that out and
I applaud you for stepping out. Honestly. for a long while I used to shave EVERYWHERE. Then I just stopped, and now I regret shaving certain places at all because the hair just grows back thi... (more »)
Happinyss replied...
Oct. 23, 2009 at 1:50 pm
Hair doesnt grow back thicker, you only have a certain amount of pores that grow hair, and you dont get anymore. =]
Cecilia said...
Sept. 25, 2009 at 10:12 pm
I think that this is a well written oppinoin. The thing is I like shaving. I do have friends that don't shave so I don't care what other people decide to do with their body (as long as its not careless) I love your free spirit and the way you think. Your oppinion matters a lot and your a brave person. Congrgulations!
Music_girl said...
Sept. 25, 2009 at 7:00 pm
I'm so impressed! It takes a lot of courage to break out of the norm like that :) Good for you!
KennaDances This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 25, 2009 at 1:55 pm
You are right. People should stop being sheep. Nobody should have to do something just because other people say that you should. I shave and i'm not going to stop. I tried stopping but I didn't like the feel of hair on my legs. And I have to shave them if a want to do my best during performances, and for people to notice that I did my best. Otherwise they would only notice the hair.
Rock On!
SickImage said...
Sept. 25, 2009 at 9:47 am
Awesome awesome awesome.
My sister is 26, married, and has a daughter. She hasn't shaved since she was about 17 (then again she also has dreadlocks, and other "hippie" habits lol) She always wears skirts n tank tops. I love it. And even though i don't shave all the time, i don't think i could show it off. i would feel uncomferatable.
But you go girl. Don't let society win!
Especially with things like this.
(You're making america a ... (more »)
Racheal K. said...
Sept. 3, 2009 at 6:47 pm
Very good. I shave mostly for sports, but I really like this article and how you stand up for your beliefs. You should continue to write, your really good at it.
BellaLuna said...
Sept. 3, 2009 at 10:15 am
ok i like it.....but i have to shave i mean i cant not do it it makes me nuts if i wear something that shows my legs and i have hairy legs but when u rnt going out i think its ok lol thts just me im not shallow but things like this always bother me because i grew up the fat girl, therefore making sure nothing else was wrong played a big part sometimes thats wy people do it
AmnyR said...
Sept. 3, 2009 at 7:54 am
great work, i applaud your individuality! personally, i wax, not shave. call me insecure, but i'm more comfortable wearing shorts and skirts without hairy legs, but that's just me, anyone else can do whatever they want. your writting was great as well, very persuasive.
doverdrama said...
Jul. 16, 2009 at 1:06 pm
I disagree. I wasn't raised to "mutilate my body". Are you kidding? I shave because I like the feeling of running my hand up my leg, or underarm, and not feeling anything. And I guarentee you that if Miley Cyrus stopped shaving, I wouldn't. That is so rude, to say that people are so single-minded. Open your eyes. People like to shave. It doesn't mean they have succummed to peer pressure.
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