Society's Issue with Female Body Hair
Looking at history, society has been telling us since the early twenties that female body hair is ‘unwanted’, ‘ugly’, and - according to an ad from the 1930s - would even make us ‘unloved’. With advertisements indoctrinating not just into women but into society that ‘freedom’ is only attainable for women free from ‘unsightly hair on . . . face, arms, underarms and limbs’, and that having a clean-shaven body will finally bring women ‘happiness’, it comes as no surprise that female body hair removal has become the social norm.
Yet do we - do you - shave because you genuinely like the feeling of smooth legs rubbing against each other? Or do you shave because it’s something you’ve always done? Because it’s something society expects of you? Because you know that you will be subjected to society’s stares if you don’t conform?
It is vital for us women to question our motivation behind shaving. How can a clean-shaven female body still be the social standard when all it is based on is the hair-removal market trying to expand and therefore indoctrinating into women that there’s something wrong with their bodies the way they are? And why are we not uniting and actively challenging those norms?
Even though some women are continuously challenging those standards, when a woman chooses not to shave, it is primarily still regarded as a feminist act. And though it might be inspired by feminism, what we should see when a woman chooses to grow out her leg and armpit hair, is simply that: a woman who chooses to grow out her leg and armpit hair.
Removing body hair should be a choice, rather than an imposition. And in the same way, keeping body hair should simply be a choice, instead of embedding it in political assumptions.
Though for the longest time I felt like shaving my body was simply a choice I made, I realized more and more that it is not.
If I feel the need to shave for a quick run to the supermarket, or for a date even though I’m already late and stressed, it is not a choice. What drives me to make that choice is not rationality - it is society’s expectation; it is the pressure that is laid upon me and other women.
In fact, I don’t even know whether I prefer shaving or whether I prefer body hair. I have been shaving ever since the first dark hair popped out of one of the pores in my armpit, and since the mere age of twelve, I haven’t even given my body hair a chance to grow longer than a couple of millimetres.
If we don’t let our body hair grow out, how can we even know whether we prefer clean-shaven legs and underarms?
Isn’t it just society’s expectations telling us to shave, telling us that no body hair is the right body hair?
Only by growing out your body hair and going into a supermarket in shorts to show off that hard work will you not only discover for yourself whether you are shaving because of the stares you will be subjected to, or because you genuinely like not having body hair.
But either way, you will actively challenge prevailing social norms laid upon women by greedy, stingy men in the shaving industry.
Ultimately: whether or not you shave is of course entirely irrelevant - the issue is simply that society still disagrees.
Originally published at www.gaudie.co.uk, written by Samira Rauner