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!

Hejlna said...
Apr. 20, 2011 at 12:25 pm
I respect your point of veiw, and agree about the Miley Cyrus thing. Shaving your legs is something you do cause everyone else does, it's not important, really.
ZalphaNeko said...
Apr. 14, 2011 at 8:55 pm
I respect you for writing this but, *spasm* I don't think I could ever quit shaving. All that hair. It drives me crazy. Its not because I want to conform its simply because I can't stand body hair. I think guys should shave too if you ask me. XP Everyone would be so much cleaner and smooth. XD But if you wanna shave, I respect you. It's just the touching the hairiness on boyfriends legs or on my own. I can't stand it
fire_ice4ever This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 24, 2011 at 8:37 pm
I agree, I think it's really gross on guys. But I couldn't stop shaving, I feel itchy if I don't and I would probably get in trouble. But it should be gender mutual. 
blublood said...
Apr. 8, 2011 at 1:15 am
While this article sends a good messege to the average teenage girl, consider the fact that sometimes, shaving is what makes some girls comfortable. Not all, but some. I, personally, wouldn't consider stopping, but I respect your view on it. I agree that it is something that America forces upon girls (Women in Europe don't do it, do they?). But I think that you're very brave to stand for it. Good luck. :)
zarasis replied...
Jun. 6, 2011 at 2:32 am
yes Europeans shave they are just like us, its very ignorant for someone to say something like that
massacre replied...
Jun. 6, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Ok. Thanks for that. 

I mean, if you want me to get technical, then I'll restate. 

America forces many stereotypes upon girls and sooner or later, many American females (not all, just many) become obessed with self-image. 

However, many European women (and, here I am again, stating that many, not all women) do not shave their underarms, or their legs, ect. Whatever, and that's their own choice. But, overall, many European women do not s... (more »)

wooowww replied...
Jun. 6, 2011 at 8:01 pm
I am not disagreeing with the opinion of the author, on the contrary it has a lot of truth in it. What I am saying is that if many people in Europe do not shave, then it is the same in America; actually there are even men in Europe that shave as opposed to the men here who do not. So my point is that many European women (and men) do shave sometimes more then here in America.
massacre replied...
Jun. 6, 2011 at 9:57 pm

Thank you for clearing that up. 

I am totally open to hearing different opinions and open for debate over several topics. 

I wish that could have been stated in the comment in the before. Thank you. 

strictlykennedy said...
Apr. 2, 2011 at 6:18 pm
I really like this article. I currently shave but this has made me reconsider.  I've never really ever thought about not shaving.  Our society has made shaving as required as eating.  I don't know if I will stop now, but I admire you for it. 
Ilovelife said...
Apr. 2, 2011 at 8:37 am
you have a really powerful article! I agree with you completely!
Carabear said...
Mar. 31, 2011 at 10:18 pm
I love what you wrote, it was well written and the message itself is great. Although I'm sorry to say that you haven't turned me into a non-shaver, it's become purely habit, and a part of me as a person now, I don't bag other people on there body hair and never will. I love that the idea can be turned to any other topic as well, like fashion, or hair styles.
Lex2011 said...
Mar. 20, 2011 at 12:11 pm
I think this is GENIUS! I absolutely hate shaving. My mom nags at me for it. She's always like, "The hair on your legs is black. Shave!" Well, it's not my fault I was born with thick black hair that happens to sprout out every chance it gets. I used to not let my boyfriend see my legs without me shaving first. Now I don't care and he doesn't either. He always says, "Hey, obviously I'm hairy. You are, too. We will just have hairy kids." It makes me smile. I don't care. It's my legs and my hair. D... (more »)
butternut jones replied...
Apr. 15, 2011 at 12:21 pm
u are awsome and funny
TheInnocentOne replied...
Jun. 23, 2011 at 6:40 pm
Big thumbs up for you!
fatchance96 replied...
Jun. 23, 2011 at 6:57 pm
You are soo lucky! Boyfriends like that are hard to find, and yours in one in a million:)
dreamgazer12 said...
Mar. 19, 2011 at 6:18 pm
Thank you so much for putting that story out. I don't shave either, except maybe armpit hair when I'm older. But I'm proud of my leg hair. Even if people tease me it makes me who I am. You just boosted my self confidence about 10 notches. Thanks!
Aderes18 said...
Mar. 16, 2011 at 3:55 pm

I love your comment! I hate shaving! I barely do it! I do it when it gets all nasty. Like about every month or so. It doesn't hurt when you use an electric razor. That's what I use. 

I find it so weird how people get obsessed about body hair. 

That boy who was angry.. he's messed up. 

erikalewy said...
Mar. 8, 2011 at 5:23 am
It's all about how we wish to perceived. If I do not shave, I will be defined as the girl with the body hair. I have other ways I wish to be defined, through different forms of "standing out."
hellooooooo said...
Mar. 2, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Well, I think that what you said about questioning the fate of our generation isn't accurate; do you think your mom would have stopped shaving if somebody they looked up to stopped? It isn't a matter of our generation; it isn't as if twenty years ago people didn't experience peer pressure. Even one hundred years ago, peer pressure was a part of our life. Personally, I don't like body hair and I think it's kind of disgusting. But, I would never be mean to somebody about it and say, "That's gro... (more »)

theatregirl This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Oct. 14, 2012 at 12:47 pm
agreed! thier point when stop "fighting for what believe in" and simply do weird thing for attention. i find that by not shaving, you being selfish because it make other people feel uncoformtable. in american,, we very  induvialistic, to point where be we forgot that when make choice that very public, like shaving, not only use have deal with our choose other do too
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