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!

Freedom_Cow said...
Jan. 1, 2011 at 5:23 pm
Great article! I've found that leg hair keeps my legs warmer than when I shave. I feel naked without it. Besides that, its a lot of waste between shaving cream and razors. Hairy is green!
JustTaz said...
Dec. 27, 2010 at 11:38 pm
JUst because you choose to shave does not make you a clone. If you do it for looks or about what other people think, maybe that is a little messed up. For me though it bugs me to the point were I pull at it and ends up bleeding from ripping my hair out. My legs or arms aren't even showing most of the time, even when it is hot and I can't stand not shaving. You are so adament about being comfortable but what if not shaving is uncomfortable, should I blindly follow your belief?
realRayofSunshine said...
Dec. 26, 2010 at 8:24 pm
The story was nice, and very facsinating. However, you eventually started to say some really snobby, nasty things. Some girls shave because it's comfortable. I shave, because when I do I feel cleansed. It doesn't mean my body is "unnatural" or that I'm a slave to corporate oppression, or that I want to release my "inner goddess". Just because I shave, dos not mean that  I have something against those who choose not to shave.
bluesky0728 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 25, 2010 at 11:44 pm
Wow! I never thought about it that way. I still want to continue shaving my legs and underarms, because that's how I feel more comfortable with myself (I prefer not to have body hair, personally). But your article really made me respect your decision and throw away any previous judgements I might have made towards you. Kudos to you for defying the standards, for standing up for what you believe in, and for being an inspiration to all the teen girls on this website trying to find themselves, to h... (more »)
ChocolateJunkie said...
Dec. 20, 2010 at 1:02 pm
I honestly want to shave under my arms and quit shaving my legs, just because that's how I'm comfortable, but I get a rash from shaving under my arms and my mom makes me shave my legs.  :(  But when I get my freedom, at least I can choose for my legs!
pixie5 said...
Dec. 15, 2010 at 6:56 pm
This has a really well written ' I won't comfore to society' message. AWSOME! You should read my article The lost generation it's similar to this but differnt:)
keepinitreal said...
Dec. 9, 2010 at 5:29 pm
I don't worry about shaving. When i want to shave, i shave and if i'm too lazy i don't. simple as that.
Suhyoon said...
Dec. 3, 2010 at 9:33 am

You go girl!

Down with corporate and Cyrus oppression. Personally, I've never fallen for it enough to shave my legs or arms but I don't have the nerve to not to shave under my arms. You are one of a kind.



Greeneye said...
Nov. 28, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Maybe I just like the feeling of smooth legs against flannel pajama pants better than the wind through my leg hair.

Plus, I don't think guys are too out of line if they prefer girls that shave. We're allowed to have preferences for guys, aren't we? Maybe I won't date him if he wears his pants around his knees and he won't date me if I don't shave. It all comes out even.

(I don't know why girls have to be the hairless gender. I personally think too much hair i... (more »)

OliviaEllisonStewart This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 23, 2010 at 2:34 pm
its really not that guys don't except the fact that they don't like natural women. some guys do. some guys don't. i don't tan because its super fake, but also its unhealthy. my boyfriend would like me just as much in sweat pants and a tshirt with my hair up and zero makeup on as he would if i were all dressed up. of course he likes me dressed up more, because then he knows that i put on my best for him. and i like doing that. but shaving idk just seems a necessity. my aunt doesn't shave. i was S... (more »)
realRayofSunshine replied...
Dec. 26, 2010 at 8:28 pm
I agree fully. I really don't like it when people think so highly of themselves for doing something differently, and chastise others for following that small routine.
ideaspazz said...
Nov. 4, 2010 at 7:38 pm
I'm not gonna lie, I like the feeling of smooth skin on my body.  Yeah, I also hate the nusance of deciding when to shave.  But seriously, do you get your lip threaded or waxed or do you have a mustache?  If you do, why not make a point of this in your article?  Do you get your brow waxed?  We all get haircuts becuase split ends just look bad.  I have short hair for a girl, like Rihanna short so i defiently can say that I know what it's like to be made fun of for "h... (more »)
thebushhippie said...
Nov. 3, 2010 at 4:22 pm
This article definitely gives me something to think about. I think you're really brave for doing that! I don't think I'd ever have the guts to do what you do, but I agree that shaving is a nuisance. I mean, who came up with the idea that hair is gross? What makes the hair on our legs so different from the hair on our heads? Anyways, awesome article! I love how you're so independent! Keep writing please!!!
t.i.m.n_w said...
Oct. 30, 2010 at 3:47 am

i don't shave either, because, shaving makes you hairier. besides, i don't really care about 'what's in' with anyone else. body hair is natural-as you said. and people who think their gross should take a look at there reasons why. that guy that said he was mad that you stoped shaving, isn't it okay for MEN to have beards?-to have chest hair?, than why care about leg hair?-it's a fab in brazil to have a 'golden shower'-to die your leg hair golden blonde. 

body hair is not nasty, it... (more »)

104lmb said...
Oct. 27, 2010 at 8:44 am
This article gets me thinking. Why are we brought up to believe that not shaving is so bad? My personal preference is to shave, but that is only my opinion. I like that you tried it despite the fact that you would lose friends. 
Cmg6604 said...
Oct. 26, 2010 at 2:26 pm
People that do not shave are nonsocial. If people do not shave, they will look like a gorilla. Hair on a person's body is one reason why they smell. Hair traps sweat and other nasty bacteria. A persons body looks more presentable without all the hair over their body.
ExtrovertedIntrovert replied...
Nov. 14, 2010 at 9:58 am

How are people that don't shave 'non-social'? Just because someone chooses not to shave, doesn't mean they don't have social interactions regularly; which is the definition of "social". And not everyone would look like a so-called gorilla. Some people don't shave simply because of the lack of noticable hair on their arms, legs etc. You can't judge everyone that disdains shaving by some random overly-hairy person you might have seen in a park one day.

Lastly, the idea that a body looks ... (more »)

ceb105 said...
Oct. 26, 2010 at 9:25 am
This article is one that gets people thinking. "What would happen if I just stopped shaving?" Personally, I don't think I could deal with completely stopping my shaving habits. While I do not enjoy the ordeal of shaving constantly, I rather my body when it is shaved. Yet this is my preference, and in the future I will try to not judge others of their preferences. Thank you for this eye-opening experience. 
ARW114 said...
Oct. 26, 2010 at 9:21 am
I'll admit that while reading his all that ran through my mind was "How can that be comfortable?" Until I looked at it from a different point of view I was kind of grossed out but this article. What if maybe the hair isn't prickly for some, and it feels comfortable? What if maybe shaving is a hassle? What if missed spots and nicks of the skin bother people to no end? It's stating an opinion and I offer my respect for that.
kmd109 said...
Oct. 26, 2010 at 9:20 am
This is an extreme point of view, but I personally like shaving my legs.  I can see the meaning behind the facts and I agree with some of them.  I have tried not shaving, but needless to say it didn't work.  I feel as though the message told within this article is amazing, but the fact of not shaving might turn others away.  
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