So, if you follow me on Facebook and Twitter, you may have noticed that recently I’ve been posting lots of articles about female body hair. Many blogs and news sites (everywhere from Elite Daily to BuzzFeed to the Today Show to the New York Times) seem to think female body hair is trending, especially underarm hair. I post them because I find pieces like this interesting and controversial.
Well, here’s my story and my take on it all.
I moved to Durham, NC in March- about 4 months ago and stopped shaving any and all body hair in that time. I said it was because I wanted a doctor to look at my body hair as I feel its excessive and abnormal- so that was somewhat of a safeguard from people’s questions, comments, and opinions, but a part of me also just didn’t want to shave anymore. Another part of me did it as a partial defense mechanism because there is a part of me that thought, “what guy would find my hairy legs and armpits attractive?” and then another part of me that secretly hoped some guy would and could see past my body hair and love me with or without it. I grew it for four months, and it was long and challenging to do. I also enjoyed it and felt it was liberating. It got mixed reviews and always made me very self-conscious.
I also said I did it to show other women that they too had a choice, and they did not have to shave their body hair, but at the same time I felt disgusted with myself and always assumed others were disgusted by my leg and armpit hair too. When I saw my grandma in July at a family wedding she told me, “It was disgusting and no man would ever love me with those hairy legs.” Thank God, she didn’t see my armpits ;-). Then a week later, a man in his sixties told me he liked my hairy legs, which creeped me out hardcore and to which I replied, “That’s interesting. Most people don’t,” and walked away. Earlier on, an older woman admired it and told me I was brave to grow it out and how she remembers all the arguments she got into about shaving with her mother and her daughters.
The below pictures were taken the night I decided to shave it all off, which was this last Monday night.
Why did I shave it all off?
1. I finally got a doctor to look at all of it and see it, which just gave me more peace of mind. When I say “finally,” I had asked multiple doctors to just take a look at it, and all of them from primary care doctors to endocrinologists responded, “it wasn’t necessary” for them to see it and they’d look at my blood work and other test results.
2. The man in his sixties who said he liked it creeped me out.
3. It felt constraining in that I was very self conscious of raising my arms and always thinking others were staring at my legs when they very well may have been looking at my shoes or clothing.
4. I felt ready to shave it off.
This was an interesting experiment. Once I shaved it off, my mom asked, “How does it feel? Does it feel good?” A friend asked me, “Could you not stop touching your smooth legs?” Honestly, it didn’t feel so good or so amazing or clean or smooth. It is smooth, and it looks cleaner by our society’s standards, but I miss it a little bit. The first few days after I shaved it all off, I had what I describe as “phantom hair,” which to me was experiencing the sensation of having armpit hair and feeling embarrassed, ashamed, and self-conscious to raise my arm even though all the hair was gone. I have not shaved again since last Monday night, and naturally, my armpit hair is now growing in again and is short and stubbly, my upper legs look fine, and my lower legs are a bit stubbly as well. For now, I’m letting it grow again, because I miss it.
Despite feeling uncomfortable about what I thought others were thinking of me and my body hair, I felt comfortable with the hair and like I was being more accepting and loving towards myself.
My Mom was worried I’d smell because of the armpit hair and sweat, and I did not. I used two natural deodorant products from Lush cosmetics and did not experience B.O. Once I shaved, however, it felt different to put those products directly on my skin and open pores under my arms. I actually preferred the armpit hair as I believe it absorbed the sweat and was like a natural wick away system.
I’ll leave you with one final thought that made me smile:
“Why do we have pit hair, anyway?
One theory, according to Jaime Schmidt, founder of Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant, is that armpit hair wicks away sweat from the skin so that it doesn’t spread across the body. Another theory suggests that pit bush is a natural defense against friction — a way to prevent chafing between the arm and the torso. But, of course, it could also be because of sex — that handy explanation for basically everything. A 2007 study suggests that armpit hair, which grows atop sweat glands, acts as a pheromone diffuser (try finding that at Anthropologie), and helps spread your natural, irresistible scent to potential mates.” – Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Pit Hair, The Cut New York Magazine
Haters gonna hate hate hate, but as my girl TSwift says, “Shake it off!”