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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cleverlynamed0711 said...
May 29, 2010 at 9:13 pm
lol, so i got a screenname just to be able to comment on this article! anyway, i just recently went rafting with my family, and while we were out in the sun, my older brother pointed out "hey, you have hair above your lip!" the funny thing is that i'm blonde, so it shouldn't be a problem. and while i found myself explaining how both males and females have hair in pretty much all the same locations, i realized how bogus it is that us females are the chosen gender to be hairless. long story... (more »)
JamieStarr replied...
Jun. 21, 2010 at 1:29 am
i just have a question what do you do about your upper lip hair... do you shave bleech wax, or what? please reply back
Niftygrrl replied...
Jul. 8, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Everyone has hair over their lips.

Some have more than others, But everyone has it.I personaly leave it.Why are you even asking her?

JamieStarr replied...
Jul. 9, 2010 at 1:06 pm

i was just wanting to know how she got rid of it. and if you could get rid of it easily


imalionrawr replied...
Sept. 20, 2010 at 7:59 pm
personally i shave mine. i got so annoyed with people pointing it out to me that i decided i was done and got rid of it. total kudos to any girl who decides not to shave. u have more conviction than i do. i get annoyed by the scratchy stubble after a day or two and have to shave
KatsCool replied...
Nov. 15, 2010 at 12:25 pm
I totally get where you are coming from. Its a prejustice, and even if people judge ignore them. Its a personal decision you made and i think its cool you did.
PeytonD. said...
May 27, 2010 at 10:32 pm

This is a great story... you really need to keep writing!
I was in a situation last year (6th grade age 12) where I would not wear shorts. All of my friends shaved and I always saw those ads on TV that made me feel like you were not beautiful unless you shaved. I still have not shaved- I use Smooth Away only on my legs.

And I think my friend is a great example because she is a swimmer and has never shaved or removed any hair on her body and she is perfectly comfortable wearing sho... (more »)

Beautiful_Dead said...
May 22, 2010 at 4:08 pm
I love your article but there's one thing thats the most hilarious thing ive ever heard of: If Miley Cyrus stopped shaving....HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Ohhh god. If she stopped shaving, that'd just make me want to lugh my butt off. HAHAHA. But i do love how youre standing upfor what you believe in. Theres someplace in the world( i dont remember where...) where women dont shave. no one does. i think its pretty cool. anyways, keep writing. =)
naturelover replied...
May 31, 2010 at 6:44 pm

My dad was in the Army and he was stationed in Germany a couple of times and he told me that the women don't shave there.  But that was in the 80's that he was there last, so it has probably changed there, too.  Also, I did some research and found out that the reason women started shaving their legs and underarms is to reduce the fleas and lice.  (Two less places for them to infest, right?)  Plus, I only shave when I wear shorts or dresses.  I think it's stupid to sha... (more »)

soletmar replied...
Jun. 18, 2010 at 11:14 am
the thing is, germany has changed. my family is from germany so every summer i go for 2 and a half months each year and have many friends there that i love seeing since i am fluent in the language. the thing is, that at like track practice we'll all be talking and it will be like oh yeah in germany and italy they don't shave followed by an outcry of ewwss and giggles. Now, however, they do. Still, i believe that its ridiculous for people to behave this way. Even if they didnt, why should they ca... (more »)
the_crazy_one said...
May 11, 2010 at 3:29 pm
Good Job! I, personally, know that I could never do that. I don't think that it's gross or anything, I wouldn't be able to. I think it has something to with the fact that I'm really shy.
crazyawesome said...
May 10, 2010 at 4:57 pm
I loved your article.My best friend doesn't shave, and i dont love her any less for it. i do. Ive tried not to, but i dont have the self confidence. KIB, my best friend, makes fun of me for it. but  i just say, hey ur blond. see, im egyptian, and have thick dark hair, which is fine on my head.... but everywhere else? but i commend your ability. and respect you for it.
mikmik123 said...
May 8, 2010 at 10:20 pm
Hey i loooooooved the part about not conforming. lol and that comment about the european hair. Sorry about the non-capitalization i am being lazy. haha. Any who, i just wanted to say that i shave because i sweat more on my armpits when i dont. but shaving legs is mostly unnecesary. I love your writing. keep it up!
RitaChristine This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 4, 2010 at 4:06 pm
Well written article - great work. I'm proud that you stick to your guns and don't worry about what other people think. That's an honourable quality. :)
No one has mentioned that in Europe, body hair is not as big a deal. Has anyone seen beaches over there? Pit hair is the hair. It is totally a cultural thing, and on this side of the ocean, hairless is where it's at. Maybe trends will change some day... who knows? Till then, hang in there!
soletmar replied...
Jun. 18, 2010 at 11:16 am
this isnt necessarily true anymore. i have been going to germany every summer since i was born and i can tell you that people there are just as preoccupied with shaving. its funny how fast everything can change!
cfitz4evr said...
May 3, 2010 at 3:28 pm
i was reading this and i noticed an add for lazer hair removal right next to the article!! and i completely agree with you, i have thought about that alot ,why can it be fine for guys but not girls? thanks for writing this!
lunar_moon said...
May 2, 2010 at 11:12 pm
I love this invigorating article. I personally shave-perhaps a little because of my "environment"-because it feels really good to be perfectly smooth. But I do see your point and I think that it is great that you are taking a stand for what you believe in.
meli-meli said...
Apr. 30, 2010 at 4:25 pm
Wow!! I'm speechless.....first of all you have a great gift for writing! Second, this is an extrememly encourging and empowering article.  It is not gross to let your hair grow. I started shaving my arms when i was ten after an embarrasing incident. Recently I started shaving my legs and its very hard not to look stubbly.  My friends were amazed when they noticed the change, and some people still don't think its enough.  I will definitely be recommending this! Thankyou for st... (more »)
Everhart said...
Apr. 29, 2010 at 3:34 pm
I don't shave my legs because I don't want to, but I shave under my arms because it's kind of unsanitary if I don't. I agree with what you say about being influenced, and I think it's stupid that everyone has to disagree with you. I mean, c'mon, people, it's just HAIR!
amazingsuperhuman1 said...
Apr. 28, 2010 at 9:06 pm
Ok, dude I think it's nasty that u dont shave! ewww!! like no offense but how can u like go to waterparks or go swimming without getting laughed at?? I couldn't stand it!! but whatever i guess, its ur decision. =]
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