When I was in the third grade, I asked this kid Tim to the school dance. Well, I asked my friend to ask him for me, which was the elementary school equivalent of messaging him on OkCupid (i.e. definitely silly but it protects your feelings somewhat, right?). He said no. Nay, he said “hell no.” Why you ask? Why would somebody not have totally fallen head over heels in love with this face? No, it wasn’t because I already wore weird high-waisted shorts with patterned tights; it was because I had fuzzy arms and legs.
So I fixed it! Because for some reason, it had somehow already been engrained in my system that if somebody didn’t like something about me, change was the only option.
Keep in mind, I was in the third grade. At age 9, children often aren’t really allowed to have scissors on their own, let alone use razors to reduce the extremely little hair they have already to nil. But shave, I did. My arms and my legs, every day until I was 13, at which point I added my underarms. Sure, it was annoying to always take so much time in the shower, but that’s “what women do,” so it made sense to me. It was written in the books I read about puberty and everyone I knew did it, which were good enough reasons for me.
(Related: Why I’m Growing Out My Armpit Hair?)
At 14, I self-Brazilian’d – using tweezers. I was too afraid to shave that area, so I literally plucked every single hair until I was as hairless as I had been five years before (and it hurt — I would seriously rather get scarification once more than ever fucking pluck that area again). I did it because several of my friends told me that that’s what you’re “supposed” to do as you get older. Otherwise, it was commonly known that boys would never want to hook up with you and girls would make fun of you.
It’s strange — not to mention confusing — how, as you’re a little girl trying so hard to become a woman, it’s expected that you’ll make yourself look like a child again in order to do “adult” things.
As I got older, I kept shaving day in and day out. Even though I have extremely sensitive skin (thanks, psoriasis), I just kept doing it because I am a woman and I was under this weird impression that if I stopped, I would be the only one on the planet who didn’t. It would trigger my skin to get hives or be red and blotchy or simply throb for a few hours, sure, but I thought it was totally worth it to prevent any judgment.
Although I never really felt comfortable shaving my entire pubic area, I still did it because I was terrified that if I stopped, nobody who saw me without clothes would ever think I was sexy again. Hair, after all, is sexy on men while the absence of it is equally sexy on women; at least, that is the assumption I operated under every time I stepped into the shower.
However, every summer starting in 2009, I would stop shaving my legs. After all, I was always in relationships with people who were far away (again, I did it considerably due to my significant others). I loved how short my showers were, how much I saved on razors, and the way my skin was never irritated. And, to be frank, I, even more, loved the fact that I looked like an adult with my clothes off as opposed to the uncomfortably bald childlike parts I saw every time I looked down after shaving.
Without being too explicit, I still do some maintenance, but I don’t remove everything because I feel so incredibly exposed. Perhaps it’s in part because of my past, but I feel extremely uncomfortable when men tell me that they only like having sex with women who don’t have anybody hair. I can’t help it; I think it’s inherently creepy to prefer your partner to appear prepubescent. Even if that partner isn’t a creep, it still gives them a creepy factor to me and I don’t like it.
In fact, the elimination of body hair below the belt is probably the one I take most issue with being dictated as some kind of femininity requirement. It’s one thing if you prefer your body that way, so please don’t think that if you get Brazilians, I’m somehow calling you strange or insulting your habits! It’s just an entirely different one to be a man criticizing women who prefer their pubic area to show signs of development past their preteen years.
Upon recently writing about a survey I did regarding many women’s shaving habits, I received a comment from a man who stated that he “expects women to be clean and groomed” for himself, as though it’s somehow unhygienic to not shave. And it’s not really okay to “expect” anything outside of basic hygiene for your partner’s appearance; if you don’t already enjoy that person the way he or she is, why are you banging them?
I get that people have preferences, which is fine, but insisting on altering your partner’s choices is different. If I had a nickel for every time I had heard a guy friend state that they found it “gross” when females didn’t shave, I could probably buy those fellahs each a trip to the spa so they could feel how awesome and totally pleasant it is to rip your hair out of its follicles.
It’s become a sort of filter for me. While I have yet to meet a guy in California, New York City, or elsewhere who didn’t want to be with me because of my anti-shaving habits, if I were to encounter one who expected me to shave, I would instantly know that they weren’t my type. Any sort of person who refuses to accept the decisions I make for myself is not the type I can be with.
By no means am I trying to judge people or be all holier-than-thou towards those who do eliminate their body hair! I mean, I still shave my legs once in a while (especially if I’m going to wear tights because static = ouch) and everything else occasionally, but that is only because I’ve chosen to do it entirely based on my own desire to.
If you happen to wax your entire body, I am absolutely not going to judge you; in fact, I admire your pain tolerance more than I can say! But do it because you love how it looks or feels, not because you’re afraid people won’t be into your body as much if you don’t or because you feel obligated.
If you love sugaring or using depilatories or just good ol’ razor shaving, go for it; if you want to stop, then stop. It’s all up to you because it’s not your partner’s legs or underarms or bikini line: it’s your choice.
Stars like Mo’Nique and Amanda Palmer have had that decision made famously public simply by not shaving. Even though they’ve faced quite a bit of criticism for that choice, they still know that it’s theirs to make, as is yours. Sure, some people might get needlessly upset, but others will recognize that it seriously doesn’t matter and has no bearing on whether or not you’re awesome.
As a kid, I was afraid to stop shaving because no one would ever think I was pretty or sexy or feminine again. Oddly enough, it’s sort of raised my self-esteem and made me stop feeling so self-conscious about the way my body naturally exists.
Now, instead of even caring if people find me pretty, I’m focused on whether or not I feel healthy and good about myself. And — to use a terrible pun — I will say that it makes for smoother sailing than any kind of shaving ever did.
Why I Haven’t Shaved In Months
Here are some fun facts about winter: It’s cold, the heater is constantly on, and I’m one hairy lady.
Honestly, I’m not all that jazzed about shaving, to begin with, especially my legs. I’m tall. I have long legs. Bending over in a shower with hot water beating on my back as I try to shave as quickly and efficiently as possible isn’t very enjoyable. But like so many other women, I still succumb to societal pressures of having hairless legs as soon as the sun comes out and the blazing heat forces me into shorts (without tights).
But when it’s cold out, and I’m bundled up 90 percent of the time? Uh, forget it.
I don’t know how much warmth I’m generating with my thin layer of leg hair and the–honestly, not too pleasant–a collection of hair under my armpits. I’m going to venture a guess and say not much. But I cannot be bothered to get rid of it right now.
Who’s going to see my legs in this never-ending winter anyway? I barely see my legs these days. My armpit hair isn’t going to startle anyone if it’s hidden away under my massive coat. So why should I spend money on overpriced razors when that money could go to buying food or thrift shopping? Seriously, the thrifted sweater I’m wearing at this very moment cost less than a crappy pack of disposable razors.
It’s also a lot cooler than a pack of razors. And by cooler, I mean really weird because it’s about RVing and has novelty farm animals all over it, but that’s what you get at a thrift shop.
Anyway, my point is that I haven’t shaved in months, and it’s mostly out of laziness. There’s nothing revolutionary or inherently feminist about this gesture, but the fact that some people might look at my legs or armpits and cringe a bit speaks volumes. Do I really care at the moment? Nah. I happily walked around my apartment with my hairy legs flying free when my roommate brought a guy around. If he noticed them, he either didn’t give a damn or managed to stop himself from vomiting over such an extreme lack of feminine upkeep–what a champ.
So here’s what I want to know, Gurl readers: Do you shave during colder months? If so, why? If not, I’m nosy, and I still want to know why.
Frequently Asked Questions About Body Hair
Women share why they don’t or do shave their body hair.
Is it bad to shave body hair?
I’m pretty relaxed about my legs (I wear jeans pretty much every day anyway), but I shave my armpits and “maintain” a relatively bare below the belt area ( I would never shave there though because of the irritation. I have a trimmer, and dear god, it’s the best thing every) simply because the regrowth annoys me and I’m too impatient to wait for my personal privet hedge to fill out.
Aesthetically, I personally also prefer an all-or-nothing look. Probably I’ll let it grow in again in a few years, but so what? It’s my private and I can do what I like with it. As long as you’ve found a routine that works for you everyone else should keep their opinions to themselves.
Also, I find the guys who claim to be revolted by a full muff pretty unbelievable- do they really expect us to believe that if Kate Upton, for example, was standing there naked and willing with a little personal shrubbery or some armpit fuzz they’d turn her down?
Is it better to trim or shave body hair?
Trimmers are marvelous! I like that they give you options- the trimmer attachment is great if you just want to tidy up and keep things at a reasonable length but the shaver gives you a pretty close cut that is nice and easy to keep up (twice a week works fine for me).
For some reason, I just don’t get ingrown hairs with an electric shaver like I do with a disposable razor. I don’t know why because they do much the same thing!
They do pull sometimes, but that’s usually because I’m not concentrating on keeping the skin taut or holding it at the wrong angle. This may be too much information but I am very enthusiastic about shavers! Mine cost about $20 from Target- the blades will eventually wear out and if you consider the cost of waxing it’s a great investment!
And yep, those guys always seem to be trying a little too hard, am I right? It’s like when guys claim they’re a “leg man” or a “boob man”- at the end of the day, most men I know are an “I’ll take what I’m given man.”
I’ve never really tried a trimmer besides scissors around there; the sound of an electric thing of any kind would freak me out. But maybe I should try it if you say it’s the best thing ever. I think it might make it significantly easier.
Is having body hair unhygienic?
I call a lot of nonsense on anyone who thinks it’s more hygienic or that a non-shaved vulva smells bad.
- I can’t imagine the dudes who say the former is going for the full wax themselves, so they’re saying they’re filthy and gross.
- Hair exists to protect it.
So, apparently, I have a lot of feelings about this too. I guess that one line just kind of made me nitpicky. Also, I love the way my pit fluff (which is totally carefully cultivated. I moisturize it. It seems to make it happier.) sorts out fool ahead of time for me too.
Why I Stopped Shaving? What happened when I stopped shaving?
A couple of years ago I stopped shaving my underarms due to irritation and wanting to be as ballsy as punk rock and European ladies. After keeping them under wraps for about a week, I shoved a hairy armpit in the husband’s face. Though I’d have kept them either way, it was a huge relief that he found me attractive.
I definitely get mixed reactions on the furry underarms, but it’s nice not to give a crap about it. I just wish I had this much confidence to not care in my adolescence.
On the other hand, I’ve always been pretty insane about removing everything below my waist because personally, I like the way it feels. And I like the sensation of waxing. My husband’s been begging me to let the lady parts fill in, but I still have a hard time with it.
Is it OK to not shave body hair?
It took me a long time to drop my ingrained hair phobia – and it kind of happened one body part at a time during college. First I stopped caring about my eyebrows. Then my toes and upper lip, then the pubic hair, and then I stopped shaving my legs completely, and then the armpits. I found that it was kind of awesome not wanting to poke, prod, and pluck (and accidentally cut, because I never was very much good at it) my body into “submission” all the time. Plus, my partner thinks the hair is sexy, which is an added bonus.
Like pretty much all things having to do with the body, I think everyone should do what works for them without any outside pressure and alternately not bother anyone else about their own personal routine!
It’s nice to know there are other hairy girls like myself out there.
Should I shave my legs for my boyfriend?
My boyfriend prefers me bare, but it’s not because he’s especially attracted to prepubescence, nor does he think it’s more hygienic. It’s because he adores eating me out, and frankly, the hair gets in the way. So it’s not always a selfish reason. I’m very inclined to support his cause.
Do guys care about body hair?
OK, nobody is going to force you to shave your body hair. But it’s just more physically attractive if you do. Statistically, more men find attractive. So if you are attempting to attract a man it can only add to their desire for you. But no one is forcing you to do anything…
I’m only interested in attracting men who aren’t slaves to social conditioning. So there’s that. There’s nothing less attractive than a person who is incapable of discerning arbitrary double standards.
As a person with very sensitive skin, It’s been two and a half years now, and I simply “woman escape” every so often to keep it at a manageable level and am so glad not to deal with the painful bumps, irritation, and itching from it growing back. I don’t really grow hair on my legs but I do Nair my underarms, but he doesn’t really worry too much about it when they get fuzzy. I’m a lucky woman 🙂
No, I don’t think any guy is revolted by pubic hair. But I do think that more men would find it more attractive if you do shave. You don’t have to, but I really don’t see any reason why not, unless you are busy or in a rush or something.
How can I shave my body without irritation?
Psoriasis makes shaving a completely different experience for me, and I imagine for the others as well. If I choose to shave, I know that I will be further irritating and injuring my already damaged skin and actually encouraging further damage. Aside from that, my psoriasis dictates that the moment I get done, I must immediately slather myself in lotion or I risk razor burn/bumps no matter how sharp and fresh the razor I use.
So, all things considered, I often opt not to shave. I am fortunate enough to be very fair-haired/skinned, so I’m blessed with remarkably little body hair, to begin with, but even if I weren’t I still don’t think aesthetics are worth compromising my skin when I’m having a flare-up. And let me tell you if you think it itches as the hair grows back in down there, to begin with, add psoriasis to the mix and you might as well be wearing underwear made of a wool and fire ant blend.
For the record: I am in a relationship with a man who fortunately understands and does not care whether I’m smooth or fuzzy at any given time. His main concern is that I am comfortable and happy, and that’s all anyone can ask for.
Should I shave my body hair for a date?
I don’t get it. How does shaving body hair even come up on a date; and since when does anyone have to negotiate with a date for intimacy? Exactly what kind of date were you looking for? If you like limiting yourself to controlling men, then you’re really missing out.
Is body hair a problem?
It kind of annoys me that this discussion is always framed around heterosexual relationships and nary a mention is made of women’s demands/preferences for other women. Would it make a difference? I’ve always thought men acquiesce to shaving/waxing certain body parts in order to better appeal to future lovers so this isn’t necessarily a “female issue.”
My boyfriend, on the other hand, has stated that he likes variety, which I’ve taken to mean that he does not really care. On a semi-related note, he shaves his armpits.
What body hair should guys shave?
I am a guy who prefers to have almost my entire lower area (back/front) waxed. I still keep a small “landing strip”, if you will, for aesthetic reasons. The reasons for my preferring this are twofold: 1) I feel cleaner and by association more comfortable and sexually uninhibited; and, 2) It feels awesome.
Do I prefer my partners to be the same? Yes. It is out of some misguided misogynistic desire to control or delegitimize women? No.
Why do women feel pressured to shave?
I shave my legs and underarms somewhat obsessively, partly because I like the way it feels. I have very fair skin and very dark, coarse hair and it just becomes frightening and mannish.
I also pluck my eyebrows, my mustache, and my chin hairs. HOWEVER, I have recently stopped doing very much more than trimming on my ‘privet hedge’ and it is awfully freeing, I guess.
It’s extremely unusual to see more than a landing strip in my line of work, but most customers don’t seem to mind, in fact, the ones who do have opinions on it at all seem to mostly find it attractive.
I wish there wasn’t such an obsession with pube-destruction in our culture. If it’s something you want to do, great, but it shouldn’t be this expected thing. I would liken it to the way douching with Lysol was a normal thing in the early part of the twentieth century, but I’m not sure it’s quite that bad.
I sometimes wonder if I could ever have the nerve to go full Frida Kahlo and grow EVERYTHING out, even my mustache and monobrow, but so far I have not been able to summon the courage.
Do you shave because of personal comfort or fear of embarrassment? Or is it a little of both? What parts of your body do you shave less often? Tell us in the comments!