Lately I’ve been subjected to a glut of posts on social media about the social convention of shaving for women, and why it is holding us back as feminists.
If you haven’t seen these posts, Google it. It is a thing.
There seems to be a general consensus that if you are a woman AND you shave, then you are allowing “the Man” to hold you hostage to misogynistic standards of beauty to which we have been systematically and habitually brain washed since childhood.
Apparently, because there are not any more important things going on in the world, like whether or not a flaming narcissist with a general disregard for human rights takes the throne of the free world, a conversation about the bodily hair of women has been started. Feminists have been called to arms over the fact that the beauty industry has duped us lady folk into believing it is more esthetically pleasing to have shiny, hair free flesh.
My Hairy Feminist Sisters, I salute you, but. . .
Here’s the thing:
People need to shut the eff up about the fact that women shave their arm pits, legs, and/or lady bits. I respect your right to be hairy, but my preference for a sleek physique does not make me less of a woman, feminist, or a crunchy-tree-hugging-hippie.
I get that people are just trying to stick up for women’s rights, and I am seriously not mocking anyone who choses not to shave. I also understand that there are biological reasons we have fur, yadda, yadda, yadda. But as with everything else directed at us women (probably including this post), this advocacy for pubic hair comes across as judgmental, at least to me.
I espouse this rant as someone who has done both- been hairy and clean shaven. At one point in my life I chose not to shave, not because of any political agenda, but because I was curious about how it would feel and what it would look like. It was cool.
Actually it wasn’t cool, it was warm, cuz you know, extra hair. But you get what I’m saying.
My body hair at one point prompted my brother to tell me he could lose his car keys in my leg fur. Others made jokes about having Jerry Garcia in a headlock. One guy I dated at the time told me he loved it and found my arm pit hair incredibly arousing because it resembled two additional vaginas. (??? Men. AmIright?)
I took all of this feedback with a grain of proverbial salt because I was content with myself, in my own bushy skin.
Over the years, I’ve just realized I prefer to be clean shaven. I don’t spend a great deal of time shaving, and don’t spend a lot of money on shaving products. My hair is light and fair and does not need frequent pruning to begin with, not that I should even feel compelled to justify any of this to anyone.
But lately in the shower, when I reach for my pink lady razor, I’ve been feeling a twinge of discomfort, like I’m doing something wrong or embarrassing to womenkind.
Well, no more shall I feel less than for shaving.
Look, I’m still a granola and animal-right’s loving hippie peace freak. I still do all sorts of crunchy things. I wash my face with organic jojoba oil. I practice meditation and take daily walks to “ground myself.” I try to be mindful. I voted for Bernie in the primary. I purchase cruelty free beauty supplies. I breastfed my daughter until she was four years old.
I am also a feminist who stands staunchly for women’s right to choice, freedom, and equality.
And yeah, I shave. I buy pink razors and shaving cream that smells like raspberries. I do.
I don’t do it for my husband or society (although 20 years ago when I graduated from college and dutifully read “What Color is Your Parachute” it was the general recommendation to shave up before an interview and so far this advice has worked pretty well for me).
I shave because I find it pleasing to my own esthetic, and because it is my right and my choice to do so, just as it is someone else’s right to grow their armpit hair and dye it rainbow colors (I kid you not. Google it. It’s a thing.)
Again, I have no problem whatsoever with women who feel more comfortable al natural. What I take issue with is the judgement that comes along with these posts that if we do shave we are not as good at being women and feminists.
Don’t we face enough judgement and vitriol for our every move as women and mother’s? I know, as a working mom, I never feel like I am doing anything right, let alone living up to the grand and splendid tenet of feminism that Yes! We can have it ALL.
Please. I beg of you. Let me shave in peace.
I’d like to leave you with some lyrics from my OG feminist troubadour, Ani Difranco’s song “Little Plastic Castle”:
People talk about my image like I come in two dimensions
Like lipstick is a sign of my declining mind,
Like what I happen to be wearing the day that someone takes a picture
Is my new statement for all of womankind.
I wish they cold see us now, in rubber bras and leather shorts
Like some ridiculous new team uniform
For some ridiculous new sport
Quick someone call the girl police
And file a report.
I dunno if Ms. Difranco shaves, or not. But she got that one right on the nose.
Momaste to all of you women and moms out there who are working hard at whatever it is you do. Take a minute to accept, appreciate and love yourself just the way you are. You’re fabulous and I’m so happy you’re here. The mom and woman in me bows to the mom and woman in you.
He hunches down the city street,
bent over in the sumer heat
by the weight of a green, ripstop bag, about the size and weight of my
nine year old child.
Gait awkward, hair gray,
skin creased and clothes unclean.
I gaze at him from the haven of my car, where I am stopped in traffic,
and realize that’s his life
on his back.
A light changes, and
I drive on, annoyed that
I feel but do not feel