The summer of 2013 was an eye opener for me. Sure, I knew about the discourse that surrounded the topic of body hair and women and I knew that it was another representation of inequality but I always argued (and rightly so) that it was my choice to remove the hair on my body and that it really didn’t bother me when other women didn’t. It wasn’t until the summer of 2013, that I the thought donned on me that maybe, just maybe, this was a self-delusion on my behalf. What if I had just become accustomed to the privilege that removing my body hair afforded me? What if, like so many of us, I was holding on to that privilege rather than relinquishing it? What if I actually didn’t really like removing my body hair, but it was so much easier just to do it and be accepted then not to do it and be judged. I couldn’t know for certain what my own motivations for removing my body hair were unless I tried one thing: Not removing the body hair from my body.
And so my self-experiment began: My eyebrows went un-tweezed, my bikini line untamed, my legs grew wild and my armpits became a tangle of hair. There were a few times in the past six months that I did shave my armpits, (for interviews, mostly) but I was mostly determined in my quest of self-discovery.
So, what did I learn?
1. Removing body hair actually takes a lot of time, when you add it all up. There are so many other things I could’ve been doing in that time. Or even if I just decided to use that time to primp myself in other ways (i.e. soak in the bath longer, paint my nails etc) I always felt happier in these activities then I did when shaving. (Honestly, I’ve never shaved and thought – oh that was fun!).
2. My partner really doesn’t care all that much if I don’t shave. My natural hair is surprisingly soft. It’s quite nice actually.
3. Nobody notices if you don’t shave. Nobody. Unless you lift up your arm to show your hair off, or have a person inspect your leg really closely (*cough* Daily Mail *cough*), nobody can tell. And I’m very rarely in social situations that would allow me such freedoms with strangers, and my friends wouldn’t really care. If anything, they’d be supportive. I can hear them saying “Oh good for you!” already.
4. My bikini line can be as unruly as it wants. I don’t plan on wearing a bikini for a few months anyways, and even when I do, I doubt it’ll be an itzy bitzy one that I’ll have a hard time covering myself up with. Not that I should have to even cover it up, but anyways. That’s another blog post!
5. When I finally did shave my legs for the first time in 6 months (prompting this blog post), I did it because I felt like it. My motivation? I felt groggy and messy: like I needed some personal primping time. And I was actually totally disappointed. I expected to feel exulted, feeling my now soft legs and remembering why I had so strictly shaved them every time I showered, because such smooth! But nah, it feels basically the same. My legs do look slightly slimmer though. Meh. I could take it or leave it!
6. I actually enjoy tweezing my eyebrows. It gives my face a little extra definition and it makes my eyes look bigger and thus makes me feel a little bit more confident.
7. I did feel like I was, well… smelly when I didn’t shave my armpits. And I also felt like I’d be judged in certain, more professional, situations if they were to catch a glimpse at it (How would they? You ask. I REALLY DON’T KNOW, BUT SOMETIMES MY PARANOIA GETS THE BEST OF ME!)
So, all in all the experiment was quite successful. I figured out what parts of my body I actually liked hair free, which parts didn’t need to be so strictly monitored, and which parts could be just left alone. Even if I haven’t decided to ban the razors from my bathroom, I feel more confident now that I really know what I personally like and don’t like in terms of body hair on my own body.
Have you ever tried something similar? If so, please comment and leave your stories below!