Opinion

Body hair shaming causes struggle for young women

I remember, when I was about seven or eight years old, being teased for having armpit and leg hair.

None of my peers had any at that point, because no one had reached puberty yet. I hadn’t either. I was and still am naturally a very hairy person.

Because I was made fun of, my mom helped me start shaving my armpits the summer after second grade.

I begged her to let me shave my legs, but she said I had to wait until middle school. At my school, the “5/6 Elementary” is under the same roof as the middle school, so as soon as I finished fourth grade, I asked my mom if I could start shaving my legs.

She got me an electric razor I used for a while, because it was easier and less dangerous for an almost-10-year old than a regular razor.

Well into my teen years, I still had lumpy scars on my armpits from when I was young and shaved without my mom’s help.

As I got older, I started shaving my face too, and I begged my mom to let me shave my whole arms, but she said it was a bad idea because it’s so much more work.

When I was 16, I had a series of skin problems that ended up with a doctor recommending I stop shaving.

I’m type one diabetic and have a weak immune system, so even if I replace my razor after a few uses, always use shaving cream and only shave every four days, I’m still at risk of my skin throwing a temper tantrum.

Being 16 and afraid of getting bullied for being hairy, I tried using Nair, which led to patchy leg hair instead of bare legs, and painful, splotchy chemical burns everywhere.

When I was 17, I begged my mom to buy me bleach for my arm hair for prom.

This past winter, I went about four months without shaving my legs and got more comfortable with being my naturally hairy self, before chickening out a week ago when it started to warm up, and I spent 45 minutes shaving my legs.

I feel like my whole life, I’ve been at war with my own body because of the expectation that girls and women should be hairless. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way.

It’s time that we stop pressuring women to remove their body hair. It’s caused so much struggle in my life, as I’m sure it has for many others.

The only reason that women are pressured to shave in modern Western society is because in 1915, Gillette wanted more money and started marketing razors to women with propaganda calling body hair unsightly.

There’s no real reason to remove body hair.

People are quick to call a woman dirty and smelly if she has armpit hair, but no one tells men that they’re dirty for having armpit hair.

We all sweat, so there’s no reason that one group should be considered less clean than another for having body hair.

Seriously, if you shower and wear deodorant, you shouldn’t have an issue.

Calling women’s armpit hair unclean isn’t a concern with hygiene, it’s a faulty claim to try to guilt women into conforming with a certain set of beauty standards.

I wish I had more confidence to ditch hair removal forever.

I’m inspired by all the women that do, especially the ones like me who have thick, dark hair, and not just blonde peach fuzz.

As I grow older, I get a little more comfortable with my natural self every day, and I hope that everyone else does, too.

There’s no real reason to remove body hair except for societal conditioning, and we could all save a lot of time, money, energy and even plastic from landfills if we gave it up.

However, I think it will still be a long time before the stigma of body hair on women is gone, and I wish there was more that could be done to change that.


Maria Ranger

Reporter | Creative Writing | mcranger@svsu.edu
Maria Ranger

Categories: Opinion

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