My No-Shave Experiment – 121 Days and Counting (The REVEAL)

I haven’t shaved my legs or my armpits in 121 days (since November 22, 2014.)

I did this deliberately.  That day, I said to myself, “I’m going to shave today and then I’m not going to shave, for a long time.” (I also knew I’d remember when it was because it was the Saturday before Thanksgiving.)

I definitely chose an easy enough time to do it.  It’s been winter, as in long pants and long sleeves time. So although I’ve know that “OH MY, I HAVE ARMPIT HAIR!!!”, no one else has.  Now that it’s spring has sprung, I’m having to do a bit more confronting of why I started this and whether or not I want to continue.

Why did I decide to try this no-shave experiment?  I realized that I didn’t know what my natural body looked like.  I’ve been shaving pretty much since I hit puberty, say around 12-years-old or so.  Other than a summer that I spent in Indian on a missions trip in 1992, I’ve been shaving, particularly my armpits, regularly and consistently.  That is, I’ve been shaving for around 26 years.  I realized that I just didn’t know what my body really and truly looked like.

I also really didn’t know why I was shaving in the first place.  It’s an annoying and time-consuming grooming practice, yet I just kept on doing it.  Nik and I have been questioning and in many cases changing so many aspects of the way we live (see my long-dormant and maybe-soon-to-be-revived KIOS series) and I realized that this was one aspect of my personal life I had let live on unchallenged.  Although I did keep on shaving, I had complained about it to friends or family members but never did anything about it.

I also realized that Ellie was getting older and more observant and I felt the need to hide evidence of my shaving habit from her because I didn’t want to have to explain/justify what I was doing to myself.  I want to be able to look her in the eye and be able to rationally and clearly explain why or why not I feel the need to remove hair from my body.  I want to give her the gift of loving her body the way God made her and also being able to make deliberate decisions about the way she treats her body.

I have four parts of a “No Shave” mini-series planned.  In classic good preaching fashion, they all start with “R”:

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1. The REVEAL (that’s this) – where I overcome my embarrassment at actually discussing my arm pits with the whole wide world.

2. The RANT – where I let out all my frustrations at the different ways that body hair is treated for women vs. men, I tell you why I get so angry about shaving in general, and I expose my true feelings about media and the skin care business.  I’ll probably rant about how I wasn’t even brave enough to use a picture of my own legs in this post.

BONUS: The REFLECTION.

3. The RESEARCH – I still have to do this research but here’s what I want to know: Why exactly do women in America shave our legs?  When did this become the common social norm?  Who benefits from women shaving their legs? Are there any benefits to doing it?  What do women in other countries do?  What does an unshaven vs. shaved leg communicate in American culture vs. in other cultures?

4. The RESOLUTION – Somewhere in this process, I do have to make a decision. Am I going to turn this from an experiment to a way of life?   Do I want to go against popular culture and (perceived or real) scorn from other people as we enter shorts/swimsuit/tank top weather? What exactly will I say to Ellie as she gets older?  I honestly don’t know yet what my answer will be.  But I do have to decide and I’m hoping that by doing my thinking out loud, in front of you all, I’ll be able to come to a decision that is thoughtful, honest, and life-affirming, clean-shaven or not.

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14 Responses to My No-Shave Experiment – 121 Days and Counting (The REVEAL)

  1. Lisa S says:

    Cool post. I haven’t shaved my legs since August 2000. I shave under-arm more frequently, quite frequently in the warmer months, but not so much in the winter. You know, in case you were ever wondering. I did shave just my knees a summer or two ago, once, when Betsy N remarked on my “knee beards”. I think I shaved the knees once, decided it wasn’t worth it to keep it up, and forgot about it. Anyhow, if you need solidarity or a perspective. Also, second attempt at bread today. Hope it turns into a regular routine.

    • Laura says:

      I definitely have been wondering who else out there in the world was a non-shaver. I’m so glad you spoke up! I definitely need solidarity and different perspectives. My neighbor told me recently that she hadn’t shaved in 4 years – not even for her wedding! That’s brave! 🙂 And, once you get hooked on eating homemade bread, it’s definitely hard to go back! 🙂

  2. jlgbman says:

    how timely! I just heard a preview about a piece on the history of hair removal – on Mid-Day on NPR tomorrow… you should check it out. I look forward to the rest of this mini-series!

    • Laura says:

      Jenny! Thanks for this. I used to listen to Midday all the time and now, never get to. I’ll do my best to listen in to the podcast at some point – how timely is right. I recent saw a history of hair removal book advertised in the Atlantic – probably the same one! I am hoping to read that one for the research part!

  3. I’m actually surprised to read this – I just assumed you were someone who never shaved!

    • Laura says:

      I know Tory, you’re totally right. As I was telling Nik, based on all the other “weird” stuff we do, I definitely should be a non-shaver!

  4. Beth says:

    Interestingly, I have *less* trouble with body odor when I do not shave my armpits… So unless I need to wear something sleeveless for a formal occasion, I don’t shave there.

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