In high school, not shaving is the new leprosy

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I’m 15, and I recently made the choice to stop shaving my leg and armpit hair. I was hoping at least one person I know would be supportive, especially since I’ve influenced my friends to be a bit more liberal and to stop saying “that’s so gay”

However, all I received was negative comments, except for one of my friends who is okay with. I was repeatedly told it was “gross” and “unnatural”. And one person even told me that “If you want to date a guy, you need to shave. If you want to date a girl, that’s okay then.” To this I replied that I wouldn’t want to date anybody who can’t respect my choices, my guy friend (who asked me out at one point, but it never worked out) pipes in with a “Then I’m not the guy for you.”

To make matters worse, when I asked why it was okay for men to not shave, but not okay for women, the response I got was “because they’re men.” Even after that, when I said “But that’s sexist”, I was told “No, it’s not.”

So, even though I know several feminist women who don’t shave and are in relationships, according to high school students, I’m pretty much going to die alone if I want to date a male(who is allowed to not shave when I “need” to because I’m female)?

I wonder what would happen if it came up that I’m single by choice and pansexual?

I was hoping my generation would be more understanding, but I guess it’s #MFIF

Hairy ‘pits, NY

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27 Responses to “In high school, not shaving is the new leprosy”

  1. longanlon Says:

    And why did you decide to stop shaving?

    • fiona888 Says:

      I really don’t see why that’s either relevant or indeed any of your business!

      • popesuburban Says:

        I suppose I could see why one would ask the question. If she stopped just because women are expected to do it/it’s fashionable, then it’s still letting patriarchy dictate what she does. If, however, it was a personal decision that she saw some potential teaching moments in, that’s not letting patriarchy dictate what she does.

        Not that the reason is particularly important to this submission, because no matter why she stopped, the people around her were unmitigated asses. I feel I should make it clear that I think that is what matters, and that I do not think I am owed any kind of explanation about why she stopped shaving.

    • beso0014 Says:

      If you can’t understand why the submitter would make this kind of decision or what is wrong with the reactions of the people around her, then you are on the wrong blog. Go to a Feminism 101 site, or better yet, pick up a book.

  2. glassgoblin Says:

    I’ve never understood the claim that not shaving is “unnatural.” If it were natural to be hair-free, then we would just be that way without outside intervention like razors and/or hair removal chemicals. At twice your age, I’ve had the same arguments with friends and family, and people still don’t get it. Shaving seems to be one of the many, many things that people never give serious thought about the reasons to do or not to do; they just make assumptions and codify them internally.

    There are some neat online groups about not shaving on livejournal, if you ever want to share or rant online.

  3. redreplicant Says:

    A lot of the young ladies at my workplace were under the assumption that it’s unhealthy or unsanitary not to shave. This is of course completely incorrect; but it does bear witness to the tremendously effective advertising campaigns run by razor companies. Check out the history of shaving sometime; earlier in the 20th century the razor companies made an incredible push to stress that unshaven armpits was disgusting and unattractive, and they succeeded for the most part.

  4. Changing Tastes Says:

    Here is an article that talks a little bit about the history of women and shaving.

    http://www.feministfatale.com/2010/04/the-great-underarm-campaign-1915-2010/

    And I agree, not shaving does not make one dirty or gross.

  5. notemily Says:

    How can not shaving be “unnatural”? It’s the natural state of the human body to be hairy, isn’t it? Bah.

    Hang in there–I didn’t shave regularly until I was 23 years old. I caught a lot of flak for it in middle and high school, but in college nobody cared. I went to a crunchy-hippie college though 🙂 Your friends are just brainwashed by the messages we all get about how women are supposed to be clean and hairless and “sexy” (by media standards) at all times while men can be hairy and dirty and nobody cares.

    And hair won’t make you dirtier or smellier, by the way. Guys don’t smell more because they have hair, guys smell more because they’re guys and their physiology is different. I find that I smell less when I have hair because the hair soaks up the sweat instead of it just sitting on my skin for bacteria to find (it’s the bacteria that make sweat stink). Deodorant works just as well for hairy people as non-hairy people.

    Ha, can you tell I feel pretty strongly about this? I do think that women being shaved at all times is a standard made up by the beauty industry. If your friends don’t question what they’ve been taught it’s their loss, and maybe by knowing you they’ll come to see it as less strange and “unnatural” to not shave.

  6. Elizabeth Christine Says:

    I was actually just talking about this with my husband this morning. I have not shaved my legs or armpits since July and told my husband that instead of just not shaving for the winter, I probably won’t go back to it since it’s just an added annoyance. His response was that he didn’t care one way or another and whatever made me happy and comfortable would please him. So, don’t let them give you that nonsense that men won’t desire you if you don’t shave because you’re absolutely right that anyone worth your time is only someone who respects your choice.

  7. kethrim Says:

    I ran into this back in high school, too. When my leg hair started growing, I didn’t want to shave, so aside from trying it a couple times in my early teenage years, I didn’t shave. When I wore shorts, I got called “man-legs”. One summer, I decided to try shaving again, and stayed shaved all summer, and while it was nice to be able to wear shorts without getting looks and name-calling, I discovered that I truly don’t like shaved (etc., I also tried a chemical hair remover) legs. It’s a pain to keep them hairless (especially since I have thick, dark hair) and I just don’t like the way hairless legs feel. I figured that three months was long enough that I’d given it a good try, and just didn’t like it. I haven’t shaved since. I’ve also been lucky enough to find a guy (now my fiance) who really doesn’t care whether or not I shave my legs (the only thing he doesn’t like is stubbly legs, cause they hurt, but I think that’s reasonable). And if unshaved legs is “gross” or “dirty”, then why aren’t guys required by societal rules to shave too?

  8. beso0014 Says:

    I know it’s totally a trite saying, but: You go, girl! Every woman that rejects feminine norms* is a thorn in the side of the misogynist beauty industry. I’m 23 and haven’t shaved since middle school, and have still somehow managed to live a full and happy social and romantic life. IN YO FACE, GILLETTE!

    *Not that anything is wrong with feminine behavior in of itself, it’s the crushing societal pressure to be feminine that is the problem, obvs.

  9. jesurgislac Says:

    What beso said!

    I never shaved – not my legs, not my pits, not anywhere.

    In high school it mattered, in college it didn’t, in employment it didn’t – and anyone who’s been put off dating me because I don’t shave is someone I don’t want to go out with, because they’re got such narrow, limited, stupid ideas about what women “ought to be like”. Fortunately, once out of high school, those people are a naturally self-limiting minority: they get their ideas about women from commercial porn and that’s where they have to turn to to get satisfaction, because real live women are too much for them.

    Good for you for rejecting the societal pressure so early.

    • glassgoblin Says:

      Someone shared a link with me a while back that feels kinda related; it’s an excerpt (22 pages) from Pornland, which discusses how women internalize images from porn and how both men and women use it to place limits or burdens on women’s appearance. The first couple pages directly address shaving and waxing.

  10. skyhawkmkiv Says:

    I really wouldn’t give a shit. If these so-called “friends” say that, they aren’t your friends. I really wouldn’t care about body hair at all. I guess being different makes you “gay”.

  11. theblackcorner Says:

    Thank you for this, and all the replies – it reminds me why not shaving is great and anyone who thinks otherwise is a numbnuts.

    I shaved my armpits (but never my legs, or my muff, eurgh) for about 4 months when I first started having dark hair there. Then I gave up. It made me cross-eyed, it took too long, I didn’t like having a razor near that delicate, concave space under my arm.

    But I never, never wore short short sleeves or vest tops. I always made sure my armpits were well-covered and my legs (especially my ankles) too.

    I waxed my legs once, to wear a short summer dress to a wedding (I think). I even waxed my bikini line in the third year of uni because I was self-conscious about swimming. Just the once though. Ouch.

    And it’s only in the last year or so I’ve been confident to show my hairy armpits and my hairy legs walking down the street, at parties, even at the office (I’m still a bit shy about the office but it’s getting better – I shaved my armpits twice this summer and it was glorious and weird. Felt pre-pubescent. I was actually a bit revulsed, then kind of intrigued by it). I’m not quite there yet. But I like the way I look, finally, at 25, and no, no sexual/romantic partner of either gender has ever commented. As if they’d dare!

  12. junebug1986 Says:

    Women in Brazil don’t shave their legs, they do bleach it however. It’s amazing how the definition of beauty, or even what is feminine or unfeminine, can change across cultures.

    It’s your business what you wish to do, or not do, with your body hair. I shave, but it’s because I enjoy the feeling of my smooth skin. I do sometimes grow my leg hair in the winter, and to my surprise my bf doesn’t seem to mind.

    I tried brazilian waxing a few times. Once I got a yeast infection and wax burns from an overzealous esthetician, I vowed never to go again. I don’t care what anyone says, a bare coochie on a grown woman just isn’t natural and the process to get one is unbearably painful.

  13. mcsqueeky Says:

    People say really stupid things when it’s regarding body hair (or even just hair in general — like how some think short hair on a girl makes her look like a guy, girls should have long hair, blah blah blah).

    I once shaved my ex’s leg for the hell of it. He said some person (female I think) at school told him that his shaved leg is gross. This is pretty funny seeing as people are always acting like body hair is gross.
    Neither my ex nor my current boyfriend ever cared whether or not I shaved (this is referring to my legs). I often times just don’t feel like shaving my legs, but I do it on occasion. I shave my armpits quite regularly, because I like the way it feels. I’ve shaved “down there” a couple times out of trying to avoid trimming more often. I HATE it when it’s bare though, so I haven’t done it in a long time and never will.

    I don’t understand why a girl would be more accepting of body hair than a boy.

  14. lornagregory Says:

    This post has finally persuaded me to get a wordpress account so I can comment.

    I stopped shaving in my second year of university. I did it because I hated shaving. After a while I got used to it and I no longer like the feel of my legs when they are shaved. I’m impressed that you have the confidence to do while still in high school.

    I only had one negative comment from people of my own age. Most of the negative comments I got came from teenagers, so if you’re lucky it will get better. I suspect teenagers only have a problem with it because they tend to be so desparate to conform.

    As for the attracting a sexual/romantic partner thing. Personally I see it as an arsehole repellent device. I’ve only ever had one sexual partner who wasn’t totally positive about it and even he was not put off enough to let it put him off me. Most of my male partners have either not been bothered at all or have been actively pleased by it.

    My mother hasn’t been particularly positive about it but she’s got used to it.

    I used to uniformly tell people who asked why I had leg hair that it was because I was a mammal.

    If you feel more comfortable not shaving then don’t.

  15. Amy Says:

    I haven’t shaved my pits or legs in years and I have a great relationship with a man who thinks I’m gorgeous as I am. (And it seems like many commenters can say similar, too.) So what your school ‘friends’ are saying is entirely incorrect!

  16. user123123 Says:

    Well…No offense meant, I don’t like hair on anyone. In my perfect world, EVERYONE would have no body hair. I’ve known males that shaved various places (usually chest & crotch-area, but also a couple that shaved their pits) and wish more would follow suit. =)

  17. pinkopaque303 Says:

    Just wanted to say that I stopped shaving my legs and pits in high school as well. Got lots of shit for it from fellow students, but whatever. (I’m also very hairy, so the hair was, and is, very visible.) My fiance tells me that learning that I did this in high school really impressed him.

  18. natg989 Says:

    I texted my friend last month that I was going to start a new trend and not shave this summer. She clearly thought I was joking and responded “EEWWW hahah” and I responded seriously, Why not? Guys don’t shave, why should women have to shave? The only reason we shave is to make guys like us.

    Yeah she never wrote back. IT IS JUST TOO ABNORMAL AND ABNORMAL IS WRONG. People are so stupid. I really need new friends.

  19. whereveriwillgo Says:

    Just stumbled upon this while considering the question myself. Up until now (year and a half after highschool) I’ve only shaved if I felt self-conscious, or for a guy. I loved the comments here! It’s really encouraging to see how many people have had good experiences with this. I think it’s about time I put down the razor for good. I always thought it was kind of silly (not to mention painful!), anyway. 🙂

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