A Hairy Tale This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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!

Violet said...
Oct. 21, 2010 at 9:31 am
i dont shave my legs either, boys dont shave their's so why shave ours?
kellay replied...
Nov. 12, 2010 at 6:14 pm
Think about it. How many girls do you know that go bragging about getting their first leg hair? Now, how many guys do you know that go brag about their chest/pit/leg hair? /:?
Mabel replied...
Nov. 30, 2010 at 5:45 pm
I agree, i shave but i dont tell everyone, i mean who really cares. Some shave some dont. I just hate that some people, mostly girls, have at least one anything mean bone in their body. You shouldn't say anything if you dont have nice to say. Being different makes you unique
Katie S. said...
Oct. 15, 2010 at 3:55 pm
Interesting point of veiw. I agree with you, but I am not strong enough, to tell the truth I haven;t shaved my legs i ages becasue I hate it so much, ittakes to much time, but I would never stop shaving my armpits, becasue well, I admit it, I like to conform to whats "acceptable". But, although I would never do it myself, respect and admrie your decsion.
Sophie H. replied...
Nov. 1, 2010 at 3:15 pm
I agree completely with katie.  I don't do everything that society does, but I do shave. IDK, I just feel more secure doing it.  however, I think that it's amazing that you can do this
Unknown said...
Oct. 13, 2010 at 2:42 pm
Nice written article but no one wants to see a girl walking around with hairy legs. I mean some girls prefer hairy legs because of what they believe in but the fact of the matter is it's nasty to see a girl who hasn't shaved. I don't think it's putting out a bad message or anything but then again I'm not a girl so I guess I would't know.
amaranth178 said...
Oct. 11, 2010 at 5:30 pm
 "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." I absolutely agree. It is sad what people will do when someone breaks decently from the norm. Shave when necessary or not at all; the pressure is really something that should not be encouraged any longer. Enough of the Barbie image. I'm sure she's a nice doll, but we can't all be ... (more »)
TheMusicalFaery said...
Oct. 10, 2010 at 2:59 pm
Wow, good for you! I think it's great that you made a decision like that without caring what other people think. There are so many people who think that in order to be beautiful, they have to shave, and I don’t believe that. I myself don’t shave. I just decided one day that it was an unnecessary waste of my time, and so I stopped. I’m grateful that my friends are not so shallow as to care about things like my natural body hair- I guess they’ve gotten used to me, since I d... (more »)
TurtleShellTristani This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 4, 2010 at 9:24 am
I think that there is merit in standing up for what you believe in. yet to shave or not to shave should be a PRIVATE choice. Why would you tell anyone that you shave or don't shave and why is it there business. To me shaving is as private is taking a shower or using the bathroom. its not something you talk about. its not something you tell boys or friends openly anyway. why  should they even care?
agricola said...
Oct. 1, 2010 at 9:32 am

to be honest its seems like your a hippocrate you said shaving is an american culture so does that mean you are rejecting your culture as an american i am just saying you make your choice but remeber it seems like you are rejecting the american way of life


sweetheart1234567890 said...
Sept. 19, 2010 at 10:43 am
ur like my soul sister...i dont shave and its my choice i get made fun of but whatever! I WILL NEVER SHAVE i stoppped about a year ago! love the story keep writing please!
ValkyrieRising said...
Sept. 16, 2010 at 5:24 am
I wouldn't shave my legs if mom didn't make me. U go girl!
Imaginedangerous This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 13, 2010 at 4:35 pm
Like no guys have commented on this.
sweetheart1234567890 replied...
Sept. 19, 2010 at 11:01 am
They can't accept the fact they love natural beauty in a women.
Violet replied...
Oct. 21, 2010 at 9:29 am
dudes are being rude by saying how gross it is but they dont shave either!!
SilverSnowflakes said...
Sept. 1, 2010 at 2:40 pm
I hate shaving. I only shave my legs and armpits (I tried shaving elsewhere and only ended up with an extremely itchy rash for two weeks) and rarely cut myself. I don't try to do a very good job, but if I don't shave I feel itchy. In the winter I shave about once a week.
SuicidalLoveMonster said...
Aug. 23, 2010 at 3:12 pm
I honestly hate shaving, so I rarely do it. My legs and armpits everyday for sure. My lady area, maybe like, once a week or so. Not even. &I'm proud of you for being so brave and comfortable with yourself<3
AfterLife said...
Aug. 23, 2010 at 1:21 pm
Wow this is brave of you to say. Your right about that. i will keep shaving but i respect you choice not for me. but that getting mad over body hair. i bet they have alot more then you.i'm happy for you.:D
ThisBreRulezYouSonnn said...
Aug. 21, 2010 at 5:01 pm
Shaving is painful and dangerous! I remember that I was in the shower, shaving my arm, and instead of shaving hair, I accidently shaved off a huge chunk of skin :/
bubblygurl76 said...
Aug. 16, 2010 at 7:40 pm
Ehh...I'm sorry but that's just sick. What if you were wearing short shorts and walking through a field and lots of bugs and burrs got stuck in your leg hair?? Gross. And as long as we're buying into all the rest of the worlds image of 'beauty', why just stop shaving legs? Might as well stop cutting hair, putting on make-up, and wearing deoderant also. :P Yuck.
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