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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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.
the_crazy_one replied...
Aug. 23, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Guess what: I do none of those things. I don't shave, wear makeup, or wear deodorant, and very rarely cut my hair. And I look just fine. None of my friends hate me for it, and some them have done the same thing.

Do you have an account here? Because if you do, then why don't you sign in and then put others down.


bubblygurl76 replied...
Nov. 17, 2010 at 4:12 pm
Nope, I don't have an account. In your opinion, you probably do look fine, so more power to you. But somehow I kinda doubt you SMELL fine...for the sake of everyone around you, please purchase some deoderant.
Sunny1 said...
Jul. 26, 2010 at 9:38 am

In sixth grade I was really concerned because I didn't shave my legs. I used to worry people thought I was weird. But then I learned that not only do people not even notice it (unless you're really weird and stare at legs a lot) they don't care if you do or don't! Plus, I'm super comfortable, and that 'silky smooth' also goes with hair. Besides, if everyone thought hair was really that gross, then they should be shaving their heads, too. :)

Great Job!

deathtocarebears replied...
Sept. 9, 2010 at 11:17 am
i wish it had taken that long but in the town i lived in i was pressured to start shaving when i was in 3rd grade in a sophmore now and am starting to relize the world has a dark side and if we buy into every thing everyone say we will die at a very very early age.
lizzymwrites said...
Jul. 23, 2010 at 5:08 pm
This is awesome, but remember, everyone has a choice. You chose not to shave. I choose to do so, not because of peer pressure, but because it's really hot where I live, and shaved armpits and legs keep me cooler. I guess what I wanna say is, choices should be YOUR decisions, not products of peer pressure. If I stopped shaving because this article made me feel ridiculous, then I'd be giving in to peer pressure. See?
RonCame1993 said...
Jul. 17, 2010 at 8:44 pm
I really like that you took a stand for what you believe in. It takes a confident person to go against the flow of pop culture.
dreamxentertain This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 15, 2010 at 6:01 pm
I found this article very interesting. Every time I shave, I wonder: How did we get to this point? Why do we shave, when having hair is perfectly normal? Everybody has it! Why do women, and not men, shave their legs, etc? But I still do it, and I am not against it, probably because a part of me is ingrained in this culture.
Adonis replied...
Aug. 4, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Why do men shave their faces?

and why is a bear something you hardly ever see in the professional business world? what does the term 'clean-shaven' mean for guys?

in the end it's an insignificant personal choice that people may comment on, but ultimately it is something you can decide to do or not to do.

Niftygrrl said...
Jul. 8, 2010 at 5:07 pm
In my school everyone who is anyone is stick thin and dresses like a hooker.I dont shave my legs either, But I never really had friends to begin with.The "Cool" people are extremly rude to me beacuse of it. I would be offended but i know that they are so insecure and Im not. I love my body! With or with out hair =]
Shelly-T said...
Jun. 29, 2010 at 5:20 pm
I never really thought about that, but you're right.  That's awesome of you to right this. 
Lindsey K. said...
Jun. 23, 2010 at 6:11 pm
I agree with what you're saying but (there's always a but, right?) I don't think I could ever not shave. I admire your courage to be different and take a stand, but i feel more confident, prettier when I've shaved, and if it makes me feel good and doesn't hurt me or those around me why stop? I feel like people should just do what makes them comfortable, and if it's comfortable for you to not shave then go for it. Advertising is advertising though, and if you have a problem with Venus' com... (more »)
Adonis replied...
Aug. 4, 2010 at 2:17 pm
I like that.
Sonata16 said...
Jun. 23, 2010 at 3:22 pm

It's really funny, a combination of reading your article and something my boyfriend tells me every now and then showed me you are absolutely right.

I am so self conscious about shaving, and i just happened to go a day without it and my boyfriend came over. I was thinking to myself that he would be grossed out and bla bla bla and he ran his hands um my leg, unknowing I hadn't shaved. I kinda cringed and he said," Um, I know you didn't shave today, and I'm okay with that.  I think i... (more »)

GamerGirl75 said...
Jun. 22, 2010 at 12:48 pm
As someone mentioned before, I don't get how women are chosen as the hairless gender. I have to shave my underarms (I get irritated if I don't) but my legs aren't really that big of a deal. I've had friends ask me why I don't shave and I'll just reply with, I don't need to, and yet they still look at me like I'm insane. I think women are always being targeted to conform and be sterotypical. It's refreshing to see someone who has decided to stray from the norm. I applaud you :)
JamieStarr said...
Jun. 21, 2010 at 1:36 am

this was good. i dont know how you have the courage to do this. i wasnt aloud to shave until i was 13 and i would wear shorts to school and come home crying and then when i turned 13 i shaved and i felt so much better. i have one question have you gotten a boy friend while you havent been shaveing?


Alanna This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 18, 2010 at 2:45 pm
You know I have actually thought about exactly what you are saying, I wondered if one day all the women would end up completely hairless just because everyone expected us to be. Kudos for voicing this nonsense about hair!
MayDay said...
Jun. 15, 2010 at 1:43 am
It's amazing how much fitting in means to most people. I love your article, and your courage for not caring what other people think.
Mary L. said...
Jun. 10, 2010 at 3:03 pm
I admire you for standing up for what you believe in! Almost wish i had the strength to do it to!
Madison22 said...
May 30, 2010 at 3:14 pm
Awesome! Way to take a stand for what you want! I admire your strength and individuality. It is very inspirational!
silver_moonlit10 said...
May 30, 2010 at 12:21 pm
Very nice and I agree with this completely.  I'm just not as strong as you are.  I stopped shaving my legs and my step-mother got really, really mad at me.  But anyway, I admire you and wish I had your strength.
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