There is no point in beating around the bush with this one !
The is a clear line in the sand when it comes to this topic & it will take decades – if ever – for us to reach a common ground.
I have lived in an all girls house for over a year while I studied & worked and it’s helped me gather fundamental information. You have your girls who have never shaved their armpits or legs – we will leave the nether region out of this discussion – & those who freak out at the appearance of a single strand. And believe it or not, like my last roommate, there are girls who just simply do not have a single strand of hair – anywhere– naturally !
As much as the discussion of whether women should shave or not is intriguing, it is also met with stigma and ignorance. I took the time to research this topic & was inundated by stats and facts dating back to 900 B.C.
I was deeply shocked when I came across blogs & articles covering the story of model Arvida Bystrom & how she has received backlash for appearing with unshaven legs in the new Adidas campaign shoot. It’s gone as far as her reportedly receiving rape threats !
Arvida Bystrom’s photo from the Adidas Originals Superstar campaign
In an attempt to throw my 2 cents in the discussion I have broken down the topic into categories below :
A lot of females feel that it is unhygienic & unsightly to allow hair to grow under the pits or even on the legs. I guess it’s the feeling that longer pit hairs equals fouler odor ( which , through personal research I have found not to be entirely true) , coupled with the notion that body hair is unsightly.
We have to admit that mainstream media has aided in creating the perception and over a period of time, this has become the standard on which all females are held. All thanks to Gillette in the late 1900’s. As a way to increase sales & broaden his market; Gillette saught out to rope women into the “trend” using media propaganda. So it comes as no surprise that you’re seen as an ape if you don’t shave, in the eyes of the female who shaves twice a week.
Studies have also shown that in most cases the choice to shave is often led by the need to please a societal norm more than it is a matter of personal choice.
Illustration by @lauracallaghanillusration
A large group of females have moved away from the idea of not shaving being a primitive practice and allow their bushes to sprout. It has become a a way to “stick it to the man” & announce that we no longer feel the need to live up to unrealistic societal standards. It’s the modern day version of a silent protest. It is seen as a way of reclaiming ownership of your bodies & allowing yourself to be free in your natural state.
In some cases, it is driven by the need to avoid razor bumps, ingrown hairs and discolouration & the pain waxing.
In Ancient Greece around 1500 B.C it was considered “uncivilized” not to shave your pubic hair & the sentiment still shamefully carries into modern society. However, science has proven that pubic hair acts as a barrier to protect harmful virus and bacteria from entering the body. Underarm hair serves to draw moisture away from the skin, allowing ventilation in pores.
Illustration by @lauracallaghanillusration
I side with the notion of females doing “whatever the f* they want”. Shave every week or every month or never – I personally am not bothered.
I do admit that there was a time when I was riddled with ignorance & body shamed women who proudly flaunted their unshaven bodies.
While waiting for a taxi to Campus one day I freaked out when I looked down & realized that my legs needed a good shave. An older girl I lived with at the house laughed and said “But hairy legs are so sexy.” Needless to say I was appalled but the thought has stuck with me ever since. There is actually a whole new world of people out there that think so differently from what I was raised to think.
At the age of 10 on the morning of my brothers wedding, my mother handed me a shaver and told me to shave my legs because I would be wearing a dress & because I was part of the retinue everyone would see my me and I needed to look neat.
It wasn’t a choice but felt like something that was necessary . It has taken me years to unlearn this. The idea that there is a universal standard to which womxn need to hold their bodies & their grooming methods is oppressive & damaging.
I now stand firmly on the belief that how I choose to cultivate my body has no need for external input.
My body my choice homie !
I hope you’re happy & liberated in whatever category you find yourself in ! You have the God-given right to be you & shamelessly so.
Never find yourself in the category of shaming womxn who do not share the same sentiments as you.
What are the ways that you wish that you had the freedom to express your body in ? How much easier would that be if society stopped boxing us in & labeling us? The thought of having a bodily freedom humiliated and degraded should not be on your list of fears.
Let’s be mindful of the fact that the female revolution is upon us ! Though we may differ in choices & appearance, we are united in the plight against the Patriarchal & Misogynist structures that exist.
The fight should not be within our circle but with the rest of the world who has yet to recognize that we are the glue that holds the world together.
Shaven & unshaven alike.
AIGA Eye on Design
Feel free to drop a comment and share your thoughts and opinions.