When I first started getting armpit hair around age 13, I was too embarrassed to ask my mum for a razor. We had a female lodger at the time who left her razor in the shower so I would borrow it for my tiny wisps of barely there hair.
When a friend got mocked in PE for having “monkey legs” I started painstakingly trimming my leg hair with a pair of scissors to avoid the same fate… Being a teenager at school sucks. I did eventually get a razor and for years shaved religiously every day.
After my (now) husband and I had been together for a year or two I started easing up on the leg shaving to the point where, 9 years later, I do it maybe once a year if I feel like it. However, it was only about 6 months ago that I finally committed to letting my armpit hair grow and I am SO GLAD I DID.
You might be reading this because you like the idea of not shaving but haven’t yet taken the plunge, or maybe you have stopped already and want a bit of a confidence boost. Maybe you’re looking for something to help explain your choice to your family and friends, or maybe you’re just here to gawp at the hairy girl. Whatever your reason, welcome, and let me share with you 7 reasons why I think women should stop shaving.
1. Promoting female body confidence & loving the skin you’re in
It’s no secret how powerfully advertising and the media control our perceptions of the world. Our children play with smooth, impossibly skinny dolls and their cartoon characters have big, youthful baby eyes. We all see airbrushed models on huge billboards and magazines, and even our friends’ photos on social media are posed, filtered, cropped and edited to perfection.
Real people don’t look like that folks.
Real people have wrinkles and saggy bits here and there, multiple shades of skin on their faces beyond the three colour contouring, scars, stretch marks, spots, mismatched eyebrows…and that’s just me!
I remember at Guide camp when I was 10, one of the girls said she never left the house without mascara on, and at the time that seemed like a really unnecessary stress to put on yourself. My view hasn’t changed much. I figure, I can either spend countless hours worrying about make up and shaving and generally making my appearance more socially pleasing, or I can not worry about it and crack on with doing fun things in my perfectly adequate body. I’m happy the way I am, and I owe it to no one to alter myself for the benefit of their socially constructed norms.
I’m not saying I never wear make up, or that I will never shave. I enjoy putting on some eyeliner and sparkly eye shadow if I’m going ‘out out’, but every day? No thanks.
Let’s show the world where they can stick their female beauty standards and claim back our real faces and our real, hairy, adult bodies, and love ourselves for who we are without the mask.
2. Setting an example for future generations of strong women
My daughter noticed when I stopped shaving my armpits. She’s only 2.
She’s also pointed out Spiderman toys in shops to me and told me they’re ‘for boys’. This is how astute and malleable tiny minds are. I often make the mistake of underestimating my child’s ability to notice things, but really, children are watching far more closely than us busy adults.
If she sees me shaving my armpits regularly for the next 10 years, odds are that she will want to do the same when she hits puberty. Perhaps she will anyway because that’s what everyone else is doing, but I want her to be able to make that decision whilst having a viable alternative that doesn’t seem alien to her. By not shaving, and letting her grow up with a mum with body hair, I hope I’m sending her a message that body hair is fine, it’s not disgusting, it’s natural and part of an adult woman’s body.
The more women who can set this example for our children, the more powerful the message, and the more empowered they will be to make the decisions for themselves, without having to follow the crowd or be the odd one out.
3. Make a stand against societal norms & change the world
Since I stopped shaving I’ve been paying attention to armpits all over the place, and apart from a small handful of amazing ladies I know, on women they’re mostly all silky smooth…
You know who else has silky smooth armpits? Children. I know it’s all about looking youthful these days, but really, do you actually strive to look like a 10 year old? Do men really find that sexy? …Whole rabbit hole there that I won’t go down right now.
I read an interesting article recently about paedophile culture and how prevalent and accepted it is in our society. I don’t know if I totally agree with every point the article makes, but it definitely raises some questions about the things we blindly accept as ‘normal’ in our society.
Not shaving hurts no one but it starts interesting conversations, and interesting conversations are the foundations of all positive change in our crazy world.
Take a look at these students who defied body hair norms for extra credit at university, and realised just how much of an impact not shaving can have.
4. A lesson in acceptance and seeing beyond aesthetics
I’ll be honest, I’ve felt seriously self conscious at times about my body hair. Why? Because despite myself, sometimes, usually when I’m feeling a bit low anyway, I just worry what people think of me. I value those times however, because they help me stay grounded, and realise how important it is to accept people for who they are.
I don’t want to be judged based on someone ‘s ill conceived perception of female body hair, so I try my damnedest not to judge others on their appearance. We come in all shapes and sizes and different levels of hairiness and that’s OK. Everyone’s choices are valid and should be respected, because we’re all living our own stories and no one else can experience life in our skin.
You don’t need to grow your ‘pit hair to be accepting of everyone, but if you do, it’s a real eye opener.
Next time you wince at someone’s appearance, take a moment to see them as a person with a rich life story in which appearance is arbitrary, and actively accept them as they are. It’s enlightening.
5. Be comfortable & feel the breeze
Some people find shaving and body hair removal painful, suffering from rashes, ingrowing hairs and all sorts of injuries from a bad wax. Women often put themselves through this on a regular basis experiencing discomfort for a temporary aesthetic modification. To those people I ask – is it really worth it?
And whilst we’re on the subject of comfort…
Honestly ladies, feeling the breeze in your leg hair is amazing! Why should men get all the enjoyment?! Let your leg hair grow out in summer, pull on a pair of shorts, strut your stuff on a breezy day and feel the warm air caress your hairy, hairy legs.
You can thank me later.
6. Save your money for fun things!
I played a game the other day where I had to list as many methods of removing body hair as I could think of in 30 seconds. I got:
- Hair removal cream
Are there any I’ve missed?
All these methods cost money and time. If you stop shaving, you literally won’t have to buy anything special. That spending just stops, and the money is in your pocket for fun things like cocktails, family days out, Doritos and dip for a movie night in, Christmas fund…whatever floats your boat.
7. THE BEST REASON: You want to
If you’re considering not shaving your legs, armpits, pubes, chin… Wherever… chances are it’s because you want to for some reason. That’s the best reason there is! Too many people think they have a right to determine what we do with our bodies, but I’m here to tell you, it’s YOUR body, and YOU decide.
If you want to keep shaving, please do! Stopping isn’t an easy thing to do for everyone, and some people just prefer to be hair free – even some men shave.
I would challenge you though to dig deep and REALLY think about why you shave. Is it really, honestly, hand on heart for yourself? Do you enjoy shaving (or other forms of body hair removal as mentioned above)? Would it impact your life negatively if you stopped?
If you’re not sure – why not have a go? No pressure, just see how long you last and start shaving again whenever you want.
I did a trial run with my armpits. I think I lasted about a month and then got self conscious. It was another month before I stopped shaving again and this time I’m much more confident:
So what do you think? Are you convinced? What are the biggest reasons that are still putting you off stopping?