Women have gotten the short end of the self-care stick for too long. Shaving legs, plucking our eyebrows, waxing our whatsits — just whose idea was all of this body hair removal anyway?
But there’s good news ladies: it’s 2018, and your body hair is not the sum total of your identity.
What started out as an annoyance has become a time-consuming, soul sucking, ingrown hair inducing part of what should be an enjoyable self care ritual, and women all across North America are finally flipping it the bird.
Forget facial waxes, forget prickly pits — it’s the modern era, and you no longer have to be perfectly smooth and svelt to attract a lover.
How Did Hair Removal Become a Thing?
Up until the early 1920s, women were pretty comfortable with their body hair. After all, in the Victorian era, armpits weren’t even talked about, let alone seen.
Then came the generation of the flapper — stunning swing dresses, bold smoky eyes, and the sleeveless dress that shook the sheets of the fashion norm and, for the first time ever, had women exposing their pits.
Shaving your armpits instantly became the social requirement for the fashions of the time (because they weren’t that open-minded about bare arms), and the habit stuck.
Even though hems were rising in the 20s as women kicked Victorian values to the curb, women still weren’t compelled to shave their legs. Social standards aside, the flapper was a woman whose fashion was more indicative of her fiery spirit, not a desire for sex appeal. She drank, she smoked, she wore intense makeup, and she even dared to vote.
In the 40s though, the rise of the pinup girl took over, and women started showing even more leg. The angle on this trend was pure sex appeal — long legs and curves, curves, curves. Hair had no place under a snug set of fishnet stockings, so women started shaving their stems.
The history of pubic hair is a little more muddled. Though pubic hair has historically been a symbol of a woman’s eroticism and sexual maturity, it was the naughtiest of the naughty back in the day, and absolutely not dealt with in public conversation. During the 80s though, a clash between feminist movements and the sexualization of barely legal teens in the entertainment industry sent one message loud and clear: being bare is in.
From then on out, women who grew to sexual maturity in this era were faced with a dilemma: to shave, or not to shave?
It’s a point of heated debate and major contention from all sides, namely because the removal of pubic body hair makes a woman look less woman, more underage teen.
The Problem with Plucking (And Everything Else)
Social and ethical issues aside, shaving, plucking, and waxing every hair on our bodies isn’t just annoying, slightly sexist, and time-consuming — it’s pretty bad for your skin, too.
Shaving can have a nice exfoliating effect, but it can also create major skin irritation in the form of razor burn, and if done incorrectly, cuts and ingrown hairs.
Waxing, aside from the pain it inflicts, can cause similar issues with ingrown hairs, though the effects are said to last longer.
When it comes to plucking, it’s pretty safe for your skin, albeit just the tiniest bit painful. Redness, irritation, and opening up your pores to contaminants ready to give you blackheads are all problems to watch out for.
But I *LIKE* Being Smooth!
Amid the revolutionary cries of hairy rebel women everywhere, there’s always a voice among us who isn’t the victim of internalized misogyny or repressed personal expression — she just likes being smooth.
And you know what? We’re totally cool with that.
If the hairy women’s movement teaches us anything, it’s that nobody gets to tell you how to present your body, that you are not defined by your abundance or lack of body hair, and that you can be beautiful and desirable with or without it.
Whether you rock the pit kittens or are smooth as silk, do what you do because YOU want to do it — not because the status quo has engineered your brain to think that it’s mandatory.