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!

the_Horsegirl This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 2, 2011 at 5:27 pm
This was really intelligently written and articulte. I admire your will to resist accepted "norms".
Huuki said...
Feb. 27, 2011 at 11:49 pm
i agree, we should all just let the women grow out their leg hair!
Feb. 22, 2011 at 10:17 am
Ridiculously interesting. I'll admit, at first I just saw it as a sign of attention and a search for indivuality that flourishes in our adolescent years, but after reading all that, I completely support you. If my girlfriend didn't shave, I really wouldn't mind it. She's got a great personality anyway. Whatever makes you more confident, comfortable; whatever you want to do, with or against the current, you should. Never make it a goal to completely oppose society and comformity, but to find the ... (more »)
Funny_Girl said...
Feb. 19, 2011 at 7:50 pm
I think tha the writer is an exceptional person, highly intelligent. It takes a lot of maturity, and independence to make up your mind the way she does. She takes something so small, and reveals not really its depth, but her own.
magic-esi This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 17, 2011 at 8:55 pm
This wins for my favorite article. You express your opinion so well. I don't shave my legs either because, well, it never occurred to me to. People are constantly really rude and say, "Why don't you shave your legs?" like I'm some freak of nature. I don't even care; I just tell them, "Because I don't need to." Good for you that you don't conform to society's needs. I love this article more every time I read it. I hate that there's a bunch of rude guys commenting saying, "Oh, it's just nasty and ... (more »)
michealangelo said...
Feb. 13, 2011 at 2:53 pm
I can understand what you mean.  I still shave, and I don't think I would ever stop, but I wouldn't judge another person for not shaving.  One of my best friends doesn't shave!  And she's still my friend.
hopeiscrucial said...
Feb. 12, 2011 at 2:32 pm
I totally relate to you on the whole "(mostly teenage boys howling about how disgusting it is)" part. I told them if they think that body hair is so disgusting, they should shave their own. I also told them "sorry to break it to you, but not all females will lie down before you and make up their bodies just so you'll like them". Anyway, I think shaving is ok, and i think not shaving is fine too. I just don't like it when people don't respect other's opinions. The guys can have preferences, but t... (more »)
Noodle1789 said...
Feb. 10, 2011 at 8:50 am
I think this article is ridiculous, to me it is just an attention ploy. It is narrow minded to say that people who shave are doing so because of corporate oppression and peer pressure, when in fact I know no one who does because of these two things. Stop writing articles just to try and be 'different' and argue something, when in reality no one cares that much. If you are going to argue something, at least use some logical claims and evidence to back up what you're saying. This is a biased artic... (more »)
rightbehindyou61 said...
Feb. 6, 2011 at 1:09 pm
A lot of times in winter, I'll go months without shaving my legs. But even so, I do make it a point to shave every once in a while, because it makes me feel more confident. I think you should do what ever  makes you feel confident, even if some people are repulsed by it.
emoducks said...
Feb. 4, 2011 at 1:10 pm
It's not a matter of me shaving to fit, it's just a matter of me feeling cleaner. I mean I don't have anything against anyone not shaving, but it's not my thing...
forget_me_not_j said...
Jan. 29, 2011 at 1:09 pm
This is a great article - you are very talented in expressing yourself in a subject which is otherwise uncomfortable to discuss. I totally agree with you, but I also believe that girls really have a choice to shave or not, depending on what they think. But if they think that body hair makes them toally repulsive, they are wrong. Good job :)
Buffdaddy said...
Jan. 28, 2011 at 12:35 pm

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.


shave honey.

Corkyspaniel replied...
Feb. 4, 2011 at 8:23 am
Uh...Buffdaddy? I'm sorry. I was going to comment about your uber-masculinity complex, but your name says it all.
jc330 replied...
Feb. 14, 2011 at 10:00 am
Buffdaddy your a true man, i salute you
Artistic_whirlwind replied...
Feb. 23, 2011 at 1:25 pm
Oh, wow, I guess you mean being a "true man" is being a shallow, one track mind guy not open to other people's feelings or opinions. Grow up and learn some respect please.  
Buffdaddy replied...
Feb. 23, 2011 at 10:58 pm
You want me.
Corkyspaniel said...
Jan. 26, 2011 at 8:33 am
Thank you for posting this. It is natural. I no longer feel weird or alone. My boyfriend accepts me with several months' worth of hair, and I hope you'll find a guy who loves you anyway, too.
SpazyMicSpazSpaz said...
Jan. 23, 2011 at 4:57 pm
I applaud you for what you are doing. I like that you voice your opinion, and you moved on it without letting people stop you. I personaly want to shave. I have sensitive, dry skin and ADHD. If I don't shave, my hair tickles my legs, and that distracts me to the highest degree. If I don't shave, my hair blocks my ability to moisturize my legs, which get dry, and then they start to itch which also distracts me to the greatest degree. Though, I do agree with you- the companies in the razor in... (more »)
AwayFromHome said...
Jan. 19, 2011 at 9:35 am
I can't understand what YOUR message is. You start by talking about how various brand advertise their products. So yes, they do what they feel they can get away with to advertise. Of course, drug companies show people living healthy lifestyles in commercials, completely forgetting to show those indidviduals with nasty sideaffects. Coca-Cola and Pepsi don't advertise the harmful ingredients of their drinks. People like to see happiness, and companies like to sell products. So yes, we shouldn't le... (more »)
PirateQueen791 said...
Jan. 1, 2011 at 11:45 pm
this article has a good theme concerning conformity, but remember that just because you personally don't like to shave, doesn't mean that everyone feels the same way. I was able to put off shaving for a while because I'm not that hairy on my body, but now that I shave, I wouldn't want to stop- I like the smooth feeling you get immediately after a shave. I've heard lots of grils complain about feeling "hairy" and "prickly" when they haven't shaved awhile. It's all about personal preference, if yo... (more »)
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