I was sat in the bath shaving my legs (OK, I was totally shaving my armpits, but legs sounded way more glamorous…) when I got thinking about an article I’d read the day before, with women shaving their arm hair. And it had me debating..
Should I be shaving my arms?
I mean, it’s one of my biggest insecurities, and if others are doing it, just because it makes them feel cleaner, and fresher, then maybe I should be thinking about this seriously. After all, maybe it would take away one of my worries, my strongest insecurity?
But then, I thought a little harder and wondered where this obsession with body hair had come from. Having body hair on a woman is seen as masculine, dirty, a sense of being unhygienic and not looking after yourself and even worse, the feeling of being labeled ugly. At school I was bullied for having thick, dark hair and dark features meaning my legs were hairier way before I had my first period, my eyebrows nearly covered my whole forehead and my arm hair struggled to lighten even after a tan (and before you shock yourself, this was before straighteners and eyebrows being a ‘thing’). And it affected me so much as a teen. I became conscious and I went to drastic lengths to make sure my body hair was covered.
I pestered my mum to let me shave my legs when getting undressed for PE terrified me daily. It ended up in the biggest bloodiest bath, but I learnt never to clean a razor with my finger again…
I begged my mum to let me go and get my eyebrows waxed at a salon so I could be rid of the bushes. It hurt and I cried a lot. But I felt better, and I never looked back.
I cried to my mum about why I was born with hairy arms and if I could remove them with hair remover (thanks for standing your ground on that one ma!). I ended up wearing long tops for a while..
And I brushed my hair into a plait everyday to hide my huge thick curls wondering if they’d ever turn out into luscious locks. I booked in for six sessions of chemically straightened hair. It worked!
And like many other teens in similar situations, it was tough.
It wasn’t fun growing up when everywhere you looked, people were looking flawless. It still isn’t so much fun now. Photoshop was about to remove all these excess body hairs, and hair removal became a big thing. Even adverts, that are promoting hair removal creams and razors are being shown on women who already have no hair, because showing said hair is almost seen as unappealing, unattractive. Wrong. It’s reality.
It’s like we should be ashamed for the way we are naturally. And in a way, we are.
The pressure to look attractive from what is considered the ‘norm’ now, is huge.
And I’m sucked into it too…
I get my eyebrows waxed and threaded every fortnight.
I shave my armpits every single morning.
I make sure my legs and vagina are hairless at all times.
And I bleach my upper lip when it needs attention.
I don’t like to admit it either. I don’t like to talk about the things I do on a daily or weekly basis because, I don’t want to seem like a freak. But nobody wants to really talk about it do they?
I laugh with the girls about booking my eyebrow appointments and declaring that I’ll be late for cocktails that Friday night because “eyebrows’, followed by hand gestures of being fabulous. But eyebrows are a ‘thing’. Eyebrows are trendy and people talk about them. All the time.
But I don’t talk about the fact I shave my armpits everyday, and instead sneak off to the bathroom as I’m getting ready in the morning and quickly whizz a razor over them. I also don’t involve myself in the chat when some friends are talking about getting their vaginas waxed ready for holiday. Because I shave, and not only am I a pussy anyway when it comes to waxing (no pun intended either..) but it makes me feel uncomfortable. Like opting to shave instead of waxing, won’t be seen as attractive and sexier.
And I never ever discuss my upper lip bleach session where I make sure it’s done on a night when no-one is around. And the evidence is hidden away, at the bottom of a cupboard never to be seen again until it needs revisiting. And no mention ever of said bleach because it would also be seen as masculine, dirty. Weird. And especially unappealing.
Because, we don’t talk about it.
We don’t talk about these things as though they’re the norm. Instead we’re expected to shy away, and go through all the effort, money and pain, to make ourselves look sexy and attractive, worthy – whether we want to or not. Of course, I want to look and feel good, and I make sure my body hair is kept in check. But it doesn’t stop me shying away from conversations about how I go about it, for fear of being abnormal.
Fear of being abnormal having body hair that I, you and everyone else was actually born with…
We don’t think less of a man if they can’t grow a beard or have chest hair. So we shouldn’t think less of a woman for having hair on their arms or opting to shave rather than waxing their lady parts.
“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself”