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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ADifferentKindOfPrincess said...
Nov. 16, 2011 at 5:23 pm
I am going to continue to shave! I do agree with you though...there ar a lot of things girls and boys feel pressured to do. This is really good! And good for you and the not shaving idea. You are braver than I am!
Claire_A This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Dec. 20, 2012 at 9:06 pm
I feel the same way, ADifferentKindOfPrincess
schoolsforbabelfish said...
Nov. 4, 2011 at 7:38 pm
Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg. There are so many more things with seventeen and other teen magazines like it that I want to scream. If you want some thing at least a bit more constructive, I suggest Rookiemag.com, which is wonderful and trying to combat seventeen and the like from polluting our minds and pushing us into sexist molds...
Harebelle This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 19, 2011 at 7:15 pm
Well, this has inspired me not to give in to peer pressure! Thanks for your deodorant tips on the side, too!
Texas_Horsegirl said...
Aug. 10, 2011 at 8:46 pm
Personally I enjoy shaving because it makes me feel clean and smooth. I like that you think for yourself, thats a brave thing you do. I remember in 5th grade I was made-fun-of because I had hair on my legs, and thats when I started shaving. idk, I do shave because others do and I was born into it, but also I like doing it.
Lilly3217 replied...
Sept. 5, 2011 at 9:58 am
I agree with the horse girl
Current said...
Aug. 9, 2011 at 11:01 am
Very well written and very true! I have to wonder though... were you shaving properly and using the right blades? I've only cut myself shaving a few times and that was due to cheap blades. I have to disagree with this being a simply American topic. Women have been removing leg hair as long ago as Ancient Egypt, using tweezers, razors, and sometimes burning it off. It is more than the media brainwashing people to believe hairless women are attractive, it goes so far back to be a tradition that wi... (more »)
ekaterinahansing said...
Aug. 5, 2011 at 2:12 pm
Hmmm, this is very well written. And I can fully see where you are coming from, but does that mean that those of us who STILL shave, are flakes giving into peer pressure? Don't get me wrong, girls today are SO body conscious, but hey, even I like it when my legs are smooth! But for me, it's straightening my hair. It seems dead, and artificial. I've had it strightened only twice, and it was by a friend or a cousin. So, I guess everybody gets to pick. Probably that's why we were made this way, so ... (more »)
MaxRide replied...
Dec. 22, 2011 at 4:08 pm
omg i so agree! that and plastic surgery are so bad for people and girls think they need it! ~Max
KenyaLove41 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 28, 2011 at 5:52 pm
i liked this article a lot and i thought that it was well written. i dont shave my legs though (my mom wont let me) but even if i could i dont think that i would and u're right it seems like women have to shave because society wants them to. 
inkblot13 said...
Jul. 23, 2011 at 9:15 pm

this was really well written, good job! And kudos (I think that's how its spelled...) to you for doing what you want to do without caring what others think! I do shave my legs, but because I want too, not because I feel pressured too. Every girl should be able to decide one way or another what htey want to do. :D

(ps, check out some of my stuff?)

KatsK This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 15, 2012 at 8:10 pm
Yes, the spelling is correct, and I agree. Hey, could someone check out my work, too? (Totally optional)
Dfsah F. said...
Jul. 21, 2011 at 8:36 pm
I dont shave my legs during the winter just because of the fact it was providing warmth and because I didnt see a reason why in shaving my legs during winter. And I didnt have gym, and really never go swimming during the winter, so I didnt see a point... Lol:)
dreamgazer12 said...
Jul. 20, 2011 at 1:16 pm
Thank you so much for writing this, you make me proud to be who I am.
fatchance96 said...
Jun. 23, 2011 at 6:54 pm
You are a very brave girl to do something like that. I loved your article, nice selection of words and interesting topic. Even though I've always opposed to the idea of shaving, your article really got me thinking about shaving. People, especially guys, think it's completely disgusting when they see a girl with hairy legs and black armpits. But I really wonder, why do boys have it good and are able to look totally normal without having to deal with a razor? It's not fair at all, and I think men ... (more »)
gogreen1 said...
Jun. 7, 2011 at 9:37 pm
This article is well-written but I disagree with the overall point. I honestly don't care too much about how I look. I hardly ever wear make-up or even do my hair nice. But I do shave. I personally find it gross to have hairy legs, for my comfort and other's, but mostly for my own, so I shave. So yeah. 
fire_ice4ever This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jun. 14, 2011 at 1:26 am

I agree, although i shave i see the point the article is making. 

Although I once made the mistake of trying to shave my arms (honestly I have no hair there anyway...) It was awful it was itchy and scratchy and I feel like I did it for all the wrong reasons, because i felt that even though i had close to no hair on my arms it showed up more with my brown hair than it did for blondes.. I will still shave my legs, but for my comfort not to conform or impress others. 

gucchi92 said...
May 5, 2011 at 1:53 pm

I think there shouldn't be something like "one should shave or not".

If we are free citizens of this world, we should have the freedom of choices.

And its nobody's business to judge the choices we make as right or wrong.

Kudos to you for standing upto peer pressure.

I do like the smooth and shiny look when i wear skirts or dresses but otherwise i'm too lazy to do it.
Plus it hurts and spoils the skin.

browneyedcat said...
May 2, 2011 at 3:06 pm
This is really well written and has great depth but I have to admit i disagree with the point of the article. I shave and the reason why is for physical reasons. I am a swimmer and it makes it slightly more difficult to swim with body hair. though I know this article is about the cosmetic aspect i think that you should put more detail in your next story. Please do not get offended I am just trying to give you some constructive critism. Overall this article was great. :D
paigeforeman This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 1, 2011 at 7:38 pm
I totally agree with you! I don't shave because it's a hassle and it feels weird. I never thought about how corporations pressured us because I was so used to it. Awesome job!
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