Oh no she didn’t.
Oh yes I did. Since they say that real feminists are hairy, I decided to try this new fad. I generally don’t believe in statements such as if you’re a real feminist you can’t wear feminine clothes or real women have curves or real women/feminists do this and that and not that and this. I believe we each get to define femininity and choose the values we believe in. Statements such as “real women are like this” don’t serve to much, except for invalidating others and putting a further wedge between women – when our purpose is, in fact, for everybody to come together, remember?
However, I am a curious person. So many people have jumped on this hairy bandwagon that I wanted to experience the promise of liberation that comes from no longer having to shave. Especially since I’m not such a big fan of having to dedicate so many minutes from my life to shaving, while I could spend that time doing so many other useful and relevant things (such as sleeping). And don’t even get me started on waxing or other excruciatingly painful hair removal methods. My skin is extremely sensitive and waxing hurts like a motherf-. I tried waxing twice. Never again. But more on that experience another time, since I’ve got some juicy anecdotes I really want to share. So, what was this experience like for me?
1. Am I cheating?
The first question that arose while I was growing my hair out was whether I am or not a viable person to talk about this. Except for a few particular areas, my body hair is mostly blonde. As you can see, or better yet not really see, my body hair is not THAT noticeable – therefore I don’t feel that growing it out has such a huge impact on me as it would have for other women who have darker hair. Nevertheless, going out still made me feel pretty uncomfortable.
2. Does it smell?
One of the very few “pro shaving” arguments that goes on the more logical side of the debate, not just the omg ew it’s gross and not feminine ew one is the fact that certain areas such as the armpits should be hairless due to hygiene related reasons. To put it bluntly, hairy pits smell. While I am not a universal human barometer, my own experience killed that argument. I didn’t sweat more, nor smell more while I was hairy. My armpits and by butt are my witnesses.
Did I feel empowered?
Not really. It actually made me feel uncomfortable. I thought that feeling would go away after a while, that if I told myself that this is great and empowering and awesome and grrrrrllllrpwr all the way, it would grow on me. Well, the hair did, that’s for sure. At one point I started feeling guilty and like I was somehow betraying the whole concept of feminism – I was wondering if this was the internalised misogyny taking over. But then I remembered that feminism is all about living your life in a way that makes YOU comfortable and empowered – and there isn’t a recipe that works for everyone.
Does that mean it’s bullshit?
Not really. As I said before, it’s up to you to determine what makes you feel comfortable in your body and what doesn’t. There are people who can’t shave because they get terrible razor burns – so, for them, this movement is necessary. A months ago, I shaved my thighs – it’s a region I don’t generally shave, as the hair is very light, barely noticeable, no even to the touch. It’s been one whole month, the hair is back, however I’m still feeling the aftermath. My thighs are still irritated, filled with super painful ingrown hairs and it doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon. So I can imagine what it’s like for people who go through this or worse every time they shave or use any other hair removal method.
The most important lesson?
The most empowering thing you can do is decide HOW you feel empowered. Nobody can tell you what to do in order to feel empowered, or in order to stand by a set of values. I, for one, like myself more hairless. Or mostly so. After this experience, I wouldn’t have a problem going outside with some fluff on, if I really am not in the mood to shave, however, I feel a lot more comfortable in my own body when I shave. I think it’s very, very important to not just jump on certain bandwagons and follow certain trends just because they are popular, whether we’re talking about fashion or feminism. You don’t have to do anything that doesn’t make you feel comfortable in order to fit within a group. You do not fail as a feminist or as an activist if you don’t tick everything off the agenda. And you don’t even actually need to do something in order to support the value behind it. I believe that body hair is a normal, natural thing and that women shouldn’t have to be pressured into removing it if that’s not their thing, however, it just isn’t for me. I feel the same way about abortion – I’m not sure if I would ever get one, however I 100% support and believe in the fact that women have the right to choose what to do with their own bodies.