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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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Madeline said...
Aug. 24, 2008 at 2:21 pm
Very well written and so true!
 
SpencerDoIt said...
Aug. 24, 2008 at 2:17 pm
I completely agree. I don't shave my legs.
And when/ if I do, no body cares as it is. Why waste the money? Why waste the time? Just let it all hang loose.
 
Scarlett-Louise said...
Aug. 24, 2008 at 4:13 am
Hello love! This, I must say, was extremely fabulous. I love it. I love it I love it I love it. I love the way you think. You're so amazing. Thank you for being someone who ACTUALLY thinks for themselves.And thank you for not pretending that your eyebrow piercing makes you a rebel. Although I'm going to have to disagree with you in your little comment there... I much prefer the feeling of the wind blowing on my completely bare legs. You know, that comment was probably horrible, but I'm too... (more »)
 
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