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The Girl with the un-waxed Hair

  • Published in Thoughts
hairy woman not shaving
Illustrations by Vee Hartley

Hair. I have a lot of it. Like most humans I'm covered in the stuff. Mine happens to be dark, prominent and grows pretty much everywhere. After a campaign back in 2012 by Armpits4August I was inspired to remove hair removal from my life.

I have been shaving my entire body since I was 11 years old. I was still in Primary School. I was still a child. I remember being in Year 5 and Tajinder from the year above calling me a gorilla after seeing my hairy legs. I also remember being the only girl in The Brownies with her own pubic hair (and later proudly showing it to everyone on a residential). I remember secretly shaving my legs for the first time in my room with a dry razor and making my legs unbearably itchy for the following week.

hairy woman

As I got older, I learnt how to shave my legs without leaving my ankles bleeding and how to efficiently reach behind my thighs. I progressed through the years to hair removal cream, waxing and even once spent £50 on an Epilator. The Epilator has three removal settings to choose from, depending on your masochistic tendencies. It requires a spare two hours, numerous packs of frozen peas and no matter how much pink packaging advertisers wrap it up in, it still looks like a medieval torture device.

You can also spend more money on Laser Hair Removal, Intense Pulse Light Therapy or Electrolysis. All of which can cost between £50-£500. How are women really supposed to keep up the pursuit of equality when we are spending all our time and money having our hair stripped, ripped and torn from our bodies?

Saying goodbye to my hair removal paraphernalia and embracing an 'au natural' approach to my body hair was a lot scarier than I had first realised. As an avid vest wearer I was most conscious about my armpit hair. People notice it. I can see the moment when they clock it. Some people are very cool and ask me when I stopped shaving. Some friends have even been inspired to take action themselves and have given up the razor for a few weeks. Other people realise I know they are looking and make excuses or just don’t mention it. But I’d much rather they did talk about it; I think it would be healthier for us all to talk about it!

I have gotten used to my hair. I actually love it. Creepily I play with my armpit hair on a night before I fall asleep. Nevertheless, I do have wobbles. On the rare occasion that I'm going to see a potential love interest my first instinct is to remove all traces of hair and transform my body into a playground of smoothness. But that instinct reminds me of all the reasons why I stopped shaving in the first place! The pressure to live up to an unrealistic image of what a woman should look like is just plain wrong. Anyone who judges me for my body hair is quite clearly never going to make the cut.

hairy mother not shaving

I could not judge any woman who feels the need to remove their hair. I understand the fear that comes with letting it grow free. I try not to hold it against men or women who have an issue with it. They are just not used to seeing women appearing like this. I think I'm lucky to have been raised in a family where my mum always has hair growing from her legs, armpits, upper lip and everywhere else and my dad still loves her unconditionally. There was no feminist agenda on my mum’s part. She just couldn't be bothered. And it never made her any less beautiful.

If the thought of not shaving is enough to literally put hairs on your chest, be aware that this year’s International Women’s Day has the theme ‘Make It Happen’. And that slogan couldn’t be any more of a kick-starter to try and do something that you’ve not had the courage to try before. Start with something small. It will be scary, but stick to your guns and one day the question of shaving will be the same as choosing what top to wear or what shade of eye shadow you want. If anyone slags you off just put on some Ultra Nate, remember how awesome you are and give them a big wave.