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.

Join the Discussion

This article has 285 comments. Post your own now!

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.
Lyllith replied...
Sept. 25, 2009 at 5:31 pm
That may be true, but women in Europe don't shave. I wonder why that is? Can you tell me? Hmm... Maybe it's because it's not "gross" over there. And yes, little kids are raised to mutilate their bodies. Why do you think so many people have eating disorders? Why do you think so many people cut themselves? Why do you think so many people shave? Because society tells us we have to. And just because you don't think like that doesn't mean the majority of America doe... (more »)
Nelle This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 6, 2009 at 3:29 pm
European people do shave. But I do think it's terrible the influence the media has
b1iznu52 said...
Jun. 2, 2009 at 2:22 pm
Again, I like your article! Girls should ditch the razor! I've seen photos of Miley with hairy arms, and she was awesome! I think that she would look lovely with hairy legs! There's no need for her to be insecure about having the hairiest legs! She should be proud of them and go ahead to wear her favorite skirt! She never should have started shaving in the first place! Girls' hairy legs are awesome!
b1iznu52 said...
May 19, 2009 at 2:21 pm
Well put! I agree with you!
FondOfHats said...
May 17, 2009 at 4:10 am
I love this article, and completely agree. But most swimmers, including a lot of guys, shave to reduce drag and improve our times. Just thought it should be mentioned that not all girls shave for vanity.
Trekky McCoy said...
Apr. 20, 2009 at 11:13 pm
You're article made me realise something very impostant. I am what's commenly known as a "nerd" (however I am a nerd who can't SPELL!) and I am always uncomfertable wih my body. I don't think I will be anymore. Who care's what those stupid popular girls think, let them cut themselves while shaving! Personly, i can't spare the blood!
Josephine A. replied...
Oct. 17, 2009 at 6:16 pm
awesome! good point, this article has actually inspired me to stop shaving and try it out
Gossamer said...
Apr. 4, 2009 at 2:54 am
(laughs) I love this! Not that I'm gonna stop shaving - I like the feel of my skin and almost never cut myself - but I don't think we should ever consider the way are bodies work gross. Body hair is around for a reason, people, and there's nothing wrong with it. Anyway, plenty of people where I'm from don't shave much and nobody hassles them about it - it's good to know we're not alone.
mylifeisjustnoise said...
Mar. 27, 2009 at 6:16 pm
While I love your independence and respect you for standing up for your beliefs, I personally will continue to shave. It's not because the media has twisted my mind, or made me feel insecure. It's quite simply because I prefer to be shaved. I love shaving, and enjoy the feeling that comes from sleek, smooth legs.
But by all means, go natural. :] I think it's great.
Cathryn said...
Feb. 13, 2009 at 1:41 pm
Your Article is vary nice and vary smart. I don't normally shave, its to much of a hassle, takes to long. I perfer jeans to skirts and shorts so my legs never bother me, and most of my shirts have sleeves so the underarm doesn't get people. So..i'm a closet rebel? The only time i think it is discusting to have underarm hair is when the person doesn't have deoderant on and it stinks. That goes for boys or girls though. I have a friend who doesn't shave, least as long as i'... (more »)
smartballer35 said...
Dec. 27, 2008 at 12:29 am
I agree with your point on some companys marketing issues but I want to let you know that some girls shave for other reasons. My friends and I play sports (swimming, soccer,Basketball). During Physical Activity hair can give you a rash, or create drag, or interfere. I suggest you acknowledge this when writing articles further articles because I have other ways to unleash my inner goddess.Good Article though. Write On!
ObServer said...
Dec. 23, 2008 at 3:01 pm
> Posted by Lily89 @ November 29, 2008
> So if you find one, send him my way!

Maybee it'll be a good idea to create smth like web-community for all of those who are really natural. We need to unite. Let the world will see that it is a lot of us. And maybee they'll change their mind and come back to nature, or at least will be respectful to everyone who do not want to be an "artificial beauty body" :)
Ghostzsnodir said...
Dec. 23, 2008 at 2:35 am
I was wondering and im not asking in a mean way but as curious do your arm pits stink less or more when you have hair good article
Sydney R said...
Dec. 29, 2008 at 9:52 pm
yes, they do. but it's the same thing you would do if your armpits weren't shaved, you just put on the right deoderant and that should work.
Sarah-Little said...
Dec. 2, 2008 at 1:34 pm
I've never seen the point of shaving. My friends make fun of me and say that i need to go live in the forrest with some hippie recreating the 60's. HAHA.. and i would if i could. Natural for life!
Lily89 said...
Nov. 29, 2008 at 3:06 am
I was very happy to find this article. I'm so glad to have found someone else on this planet that doesn't shave either! Up until now I thought I had to hide my hair under jeans and jackets, since society couldn't handle the hair. But you know what, you have inspired me to completely break lose from society's chains. The next chance I get, I'm showing off my armpit hair, just to see reactions. Just a note about dating though- since there are so few of us who don't shave, there are even fewer guys... (more »)
monkey25045 replied...
Oct. 10, 2009 at 2:09 pm
I love women that don't shave but you all are few and far between. I'd love to find an all natural girl.
ObServer said...
Nov. 28, 2008 at 4:16 pm
It's amazing! I agree with every word!
It's disgusting to shave, but natural beauty is the best in the world :)
I'll be very happy to meet more people like you. I believe that soon it'll be modern to be natural and the era of legs/arms/pubic shaving will END!
elizabee89 said...
Nov. 23, 2008 at 3:41 am
I agree wholeheartedly with this article! I don't shave, either - besides my armpits, because I sadly have major BO when I don't, no matter what I use.
icecoldchick said...
Nov. 15, 2008 at 7:44 pm
Ewww I will not ever stop shaving my legs, but I have to admit as disgusting as it is not to shave, I have to admire the individuality. I do disagree with it being more comfortable to have hair because I love shaving. It feels much better. I cant say I would be friends with someone who doesn't shave their legs though because its bad for my reputation, but w.e lol
Site Feedback