My No-Shave Experiment – The RANT (207 Days and Counting)

This is part 2 in my “No-Shave Experiment” mini-series. Here’s part 1 and 1a.

So it’s been almost three months since I REVEALED my “No-Shave Experiment” to you all.  In that time, I’ve had to start wearing summer clothes and no, I haven’t started shaving.  Rather, I just think about it all the time now because I’m not all covered up in warm clothes. Now that I’m thinking about it all the time, it’s time for me to RANT about the whole issue.  (Also, I have to read Plucked: A History of Hair Removal and get it back to the library so I need to rant a bit before I educate myself. Ha!)

Here’s what makes me mad about the state of body hair in America today:

Discriminatory gender double-standard:

  1. Men get to choose (for the most part) whether or not they want to show body hair.  Leg and armpit hair is considered normal.  Barring a few exceptions (like the military), if a man wants to have facial hair, it’s considered a fashion choice.  Usually, I observe men getting compliments over their facial hair, as in, “Hey!  Cool beard!”
  2. Women are expected to be clean-shaven.  I don’t get the easy choice of choosing whether or not to shave my body hair.  I’ve decided not to but I feel angst about it all the time. For the record, no one has told me, “Hey! Cool leg hair!”  One friend kindly congratulated me the first time she saw me in a tank top, not because of my arm pit hair (which was visible) but for what it represented – a conscious consideration.

Shaming of Women (particularly by other women):

Armpit hair was trending on Facebook the other day, evidently, because a couple different friends sent me links to articles about how girls/women are starting to flaunt their hairy pits.  I’m not on Twitter but some of what is tweeted about these pictures is really revolting.  Why it is such a big deal when a women decides not to alter her body?  Why isn’t it OK for a woman to let her hair grow, just like a man does?  I frankly just don’t understand why it’s OK to shame a woman for something that her body is created to do.

The Lack of Acknowledgement that Shaving is Big Business

Who benefits when women are convinced that they have to shave their legs and pits?  Obviously, it’s the companies that sell razors, shaving cream, and antiperspirant. I’ve seen and heard so many women say, “I just like to be clean-shaven.” OK, well, yes, this is true but who taught you to shave in the first place?  It was probably either your mother or your friends and they had to buy a razor and shaving cream to teach you. And who taught them how to shave?  Other women who have been indoctrinated by media and culture.  There’s such a huge financial incentive to keep women shaving so of course, the marketing machine is going full-swing to make sure that the pressure is on women to do so. I’m mad at the media and big business too.

My Own Inability to Stop Obsessing About This

I realize that I shouldn’t be surprised about how hard it’s been for me not to shave. After all, I am 38 years old.  It’s really difficult to reverse almost 40 years of inculturation and habit.    I certainly shouldn’t expect that it would be easy to make a change like this, particularly when it’s so counter-cultural.  On the other hand, I am so thoroughly angered by the whole thing (clearly – I’m ranting) that you would think I wouldn’t have a hard time making the decision to be unshaven permanently.

The Impossibility of Keeping Ellie From Being Tainted

Right now, Ellie is on-board with arm pit hair.  She talks rather excitedly about how she get some when she grows up.  She also likes watching Nik shave.  Right now, I think she thinks that men shave and women don’t.  I know it won’t be too long before she notices that other women shave.  My guess is that unless I manage to find her a bunch of crunchy friends whose mothers also don’t shave, come puberty, she’ll be wanting to shave her legs too.  I just get mad when I think that she’ll have to face the same questions of self-worth/self-confidence when it comes to her body.

001 (640x427)random cuteness – breakfast on our porch a couple weeks ago

The Lack of Relevant Pictures In This Post

I’m not even brave enough to post a picture of my own hairy pits and legs on this post. That’s annoying in itself.

I know there’s more I want to rant about (such as how I haven’t even approached the fact that I also pluck facial hair or that I felt the need to write this blog post mini-series in the first place to feel less weird about being unshaven in public) but I’m cutting myself off.  Care to add any ranting in the comments?  I’d love to hear it!

Still to come: the RESEARCH and the RESOLUTION.

This entry was posted in health and beauty, KIOS, reflecting and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to My No-Shave Experiment – The RANT (207 Days and Counting)

  1. carla says:

    Hey Laura.
    Do you feel like it is easier to go without shaving having lighter colored hair? My body hair is much darker and thicker than my head hair and is really obvious even just a couple of days after i shave. I’ve been especially annoyed with this lately with the weather change. I wonder if i wouldn’t mind wearing shorts & skirts if i didn’t hate shaving so much. I know i would go swimming a lot more often. I love being in the water but hate the associated shaving. -cg

    • Laura says:

      Hey Carla! My leg hair is certainly on the lighter side, so I guess that makes it a bit easier, although I don’t think there’s any escaping the fact that I have hairy legs now! It did make it easier for me to be a bit lazy about shaving my legs when I was shaving. My arm pit hair is quite dark (much darker than my head hair) so it’s plenty obvious. I have a swim skirt, which makes me feel less exposed (on multiple levels, not just shaving) for swimming so I guess that helps too. I’m not sure though that in the end, hair color (unless your hair is totally blond) really helps with the feeling of having to shave, you know? And yes, I totally get the “I hate to shave to swim” thing because I’m right there with you.

  2. Paula says:

    Absolutely understand the frustration with hair removal, but I think that, alongside the points that you’ve mentioned, it would be worth acknowledging the fact that hair in closed-off places (e.g. armpit/pubic hair) traps moisture and absorbs odors. It is for this reason that I choose to wax such hair — doing so means that I can wear clothes more times without washing them and in the winter can shower less frequently. As I don’t think my leg or arm hair have any significant effect on my overall body odor and therefore time/money/energy spent on laundry, I don’t shave/wax those areas.

    This obviously doesn’t negate the shaming of women or the double standard issues inherent to the hair removal business, but I did want to point out that one can thoughtfully decide to engage in this practice.

    • Laura says:

      Hi Paula! I just realized that I hadn’t responded to you yet! Thanks for sharing that consideration related to why women shave. I haven’t personally found that to be the case for myself but I can see how it might make a difference for others. I’ve had women tell me both sides of the same coin (for example, body odor for some is better with and for others, without armpit hair).

  3. Pingback: My No-Shave Experiment – The REFLECTION (364 Days and Counting) | Salmon and Souvlaki

  4. Pingback: My No-Shave Experiment – 121 Days and Counting (The REVEAL) | Salmon and Souvlaki

  5. Pingback: My No-Shave Experiment – The Research (860 Days and Counting) | Salmon and Souvlaki

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