I conformed to the female expectation of being basically hairless below the eyebrows for many years, but when I realized this wasn’t something I did for my own pleasure but because I felt the stigma of having body hair, I began to rethink my approach and discovered it’s entirely possible to stop shaving and be sexy at the same time.
My whole life, I was told my body hair was unappealing.
At the tender age of 11, I got my first real taste of the stigma that surrounds female body hair in our culture. A boy at school mercilessly bullied me for having hairy legs when girls were supposed to shave. That night, I stole a disposable razor from my dad and shaved my legs in shame, hoping to avoid further teasing. It might not always be in such direct ways, but our society is rife with messages telling girls that smooth is sexy.
I carried intense shame around my body hair.
The theme continued at 15 with the first boyfriend I was sexually active with. He pressured me to shave my pubic hair and I caved out of a sense of shame and a desire to be accepted. Now I was shaving my legs and my vagina, and as soon as I started to grow underarm hair, I shaved that too. None of these things I did for myself—it was all for other people and what I thought they wanted. I’d learned to feel shame about my body’s natural state.
It even led me to put my health at risk.
I have hairier arms than most girls and in my teens, I was really embarrassed by that. It’s still something I’m not entirely comfortable with, in fact. At the time, I didn’t want to shave them because I thought that would draw even more attention to them, so I covered up instead. I’d wear a heavy sweater to school year-round even though it would often get up to 95°F in the summer. My dad eventually freaked out and made me stop, so I plucked my arm hairs out before eventually deciding to shave them.
I spent so much time, energy, and money on hair removal.
Over the course of my life, I’ve spent unspeakable hours removing my body hair because I saw it as a burden. When I began getting Brazilian waxes instead of shaving, the cost of my hair removal really started to pile up to the point that I’ve spent thousands in my lifetime. Looking back on this now, it seems absurd, but at the time, I just went along with it because I didn’t see any alternative. If you want to be desirable as a woman, you have to also be hairless, right?
Eventually, I realized how oppressed I felt.
As I got older and was exposed to a more alternative and feminist crowd, I began to see other women proudly letting their body hair grow. In recent years, the body-positivity movement has done wonderful things in this regard and now it’s not unusual to see hairy women, even in mainstream media. As it dawned on me that hair-removal wasn’t a given for every woman, I began to realize how oppressive I found it all. Shaving and waxing didn’t even give me pleasure—it was the perceived validation I got as a result that I was looking for. The idea of letting my hair grow out began to seed itself in my mind.
One winter, I decided to try an experiment.
Under the protective shield of my winter layers, I slowly and secretly grew my leg, arm and underarm hair, safe from the prying eyes of a society that I’d experienced too much judgment from. It was nice to ease myself into it, seeing for the first time how I felt about my body hair.
I suddenly felt incredibly liberated.
The experience was revelatory. The shackles of cultural norms were broken and I realized I was (and always had been) free to be as fuzzy as I pleased! I experienced a great sense of relief in letting go of years-long insecurities and began to appreciate my body anew. I knew, immediately, I would never go back to shaving and I delighted in showing off my new self once spring rolled around. And it didn’t stop there! Buoyed by the success of my hairy adventures thus far, I stopped waxing my pubic hair and plucking my eyebrows too. It was amazing.
I began to fall in love with my new body hair.
Contrary to everything I’d been told about the unacceptability of my body hair, I actually began to fall in love with it. I’d find myself just caressing my lady garden or stroking my leg hair with curious delight. Some hair, like my underarms, I’d literally never had before, and I spent so much time marveling at the look and feel of my fuzzy new accessories.
I’ve never felt sexier or more confident.
I never expected it, but out of all this came a renewed sense of confidence and femininity. As soon as I began to accept my body, I found a deep sense of confidence and that brought with it a totally unique feeling of desirability. I love how much I love my body and since I stopped shaving I haven’t looked back. I see myself as incredibly sexy and my partners seem to feel the same.
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