I ain’t shaving, and nor should you

RUBY STRINGER doesn’t shave, so why do you?

hair oppression Vagina Veet

So my outrage at the recent Veet adverts (‘Don’t risk dudeness’) has morphed into this article.

It’s not a condemnation of every person who shaves their armpits; that’s great if that’s what you’re really into. It’s more of a cry for you all to really think about what you’re doing to your body, and whether it’s because you want it, or you’ve just been led to believe that you need it. On the other hand, I know that some people will say that they really do want to spend hours of their life and hundreds of pounds removing the hair from their body, and that’s just fine, all I’m asking is that you really think about it.

Firstly, my conversion. I stopped shaving my legs about a year ago, and my armpits a few months later. Prior to this I had religiously shaved my armpits every day since I was about 13 or 14, and my legs a minimum of every few weeks. I stopped because I realised that I couldn’t remember when or why I had started, and that scared me. I want to have full autonomy over my body, and the hair that naturally grows on it is most definitely a part of that.

Oppression, that's what it is

Oppression, that’s what it is

So, why do we feel the need for this expensive, often painful, sometimes dangerous, and entirely unnecessary practice? Well, according to this blog article, and my research, shaving and hair removal for women only came into general conciousness around 1915. In 1915 Harper’s Bazaar released the first advert for women’s razors, basically exclaiming ‘You know that completely natural hair that grows under your arms? That is completely disgusting, you should get rid of that…’.

Although hard to swallow, the fad of depilation is PURELY the result of a marketing campaign, no matter how much you try to claim that you want to, the roots are still firmly buried in a multinational firm’s control over thousands of women’s bodies. This process has again been occurring in areas like China and India, where body hair is nowhere near as much of a taboo, and so Veet have valiantly taken it upon themselves to enlighten the natives with information about their appalling ignorance of basic grooming, by giving out free samples and providing instructional videos online (article here). This power of transnational firms of course goes hand-in-hand with the media; a search for ‘hair removal’ on the Cosmo website yields 3578 results.

After I stopped shaving, I went through a period of being something of a novelty to many of my friends. My friend Sam is still fascinated by my hairy legs, and finds them hilarious. Many of my other friends say that they admire my bravery, but they could never do what I do. Another friend doesn’t shave either, but is incredibly ashamed of it and refuses to show her legs or armpits to anyone.

So you see, even if you can get past the brainwashing from the multinationals, you have a truckload of social stigma to then battle your way through. Luckily all my friends have stopped now, although I feel that they’ve basically just written me off as a crazy hippy who should be allowed to do what she wants, and I’m also extremely fortunate to have a tolerant (if not supportive) boyfriend, which leads me to my next point.

NOT shaved

This girl’s done it, I’ve done it, why can’t you?

As was beautifully demonstrated in one of the Veet adverts previously mentioned, having body hair automatically removes all of your femininity, effectively making you a man and therefore repulsive to potential mates (homophobic much?). This is a difficult one because yes, I have a steady boyfriend so maybe I don’t have the same angst as someone still looking.

But if my boyfriend did have a problem with my hairy-ness, I’m not sure I’d want him as my boyfriend. He openly admits that he prefers when I shave, and that he doesn’t like my unshaven armpits, but that he’s not going to try and make me do anything, and that’s exactly right. Anybody who wants to take control away from me about myself, whether it’s where I can go, who I can see or talk to, or whether or not I remove my body hair, that person is not right for me, or you for that matter.

So, basically, I’m urging every single one of you to ditch the razor, just for a few weeks, and see whether having hair where it’s supposed to be is as scary as you think. You never know, you might even like it!