Summer is approaching fast, and that means it’s either time to bring the dusty old razor out again, or leave your body hair as it is. Judgemental looks from other women or raised eyebrows from men are bound to make an appearance along with hairy legs. Women are expected to be hairless everywhere aside from the tops of their heads. It feels like the only alternative is to let everything go au natural, and be fiercely proud about it. I’ve got a third option: why don’t we stop caring entirely about other people’s body hair? Shaming someone for the way they manage their body hair says a lot more about the shamer than the shamed.
I have a lot of hair. I’ve been told that I have been blessed with a thick head of hair and should be thankful. While I am quite grateful, what my admirers tend to overlook is that when you have thick hair on your head, you probably have it everywhere else too. I’m not a fan, so I do what many other girls do and shave or wax it — as is my choice. Still, like many others, I remember a not-so-fond memory of being teased for having to shave back in elementary school. It had an impact on me.
Body hair shaming is entirely socially constructed. We teach our daughters from a young age that they need to get rid of their body hair. Just as we wouldn’t force a woman to wear make-up against her will, we shouldn’t be forcing women to remove or keep their body hair.
I was a victim of the body hair double standard: make sure it’s beautiful atop your head, but pretend it never exists anywhere else. I’m not sure who came up with the absurd notion that women are magically endowed with hairlessness, but I’ve got news for you: most human beings have some form of embarrassing and inconvenient hair somewhere on their bodies. Why is our head-hair considered so much more acceptable and attractive than our leg hair?
I was a victim of the body hair double standard: Make sure it’s beautiful atop your head, but pretend it never exists anywhere else.
The way you treat other people based on their body hair can have a very serious impact on how they feel about their bodies. This is not a decision to be made by anyone other than the owner of said body hair. It’s a matter of respecting people’s choices and allowing them to make their own decisions. When people are unhappy with their bodies, they make an effort to change them. Similarly, if a woman is unhappy with their body hair, then who are we to make statements about how much of a feminist she is based on her choices? No matter how feminist your politics, you do not have the right to tell a woman what she does with her body. We need to quit the body hair shaming and let women choose whether they want to love it or lose it.