Friday, March 21, 2008

Body Hair

So The Angry Black Woman got me thinking about my body hair. And I commented there, but you know, it's a topic I've spent a lot of time thinking about, but never posted here. I'm honestly starting to think I need to reroute more of my comments elsewhere to posts made here. :P

But anyway...

Body hair in general terms I have always been on the same page with. Women have body hair. We choose to manipulate it or get rid of it. But pure and simple, WE HAVE IT. And I have always been of the opinion that we should be able to simply HAVE it, and should not feel obligated to do anything about that. However... My relationship with my OWN body hair? Has been complicated. I am currently in a transitioning place with it, and have been ever since I met my husband.

He really doesn’t care about body hair. I could have hairy legs and pits and it wouldn’t matter to him. This was new for me, as other guys I’d been with made a big deal out of their preference (as little hair as possible). At this point, I’ve stopped shaving my legs except for occasionally, thanks to my husband’s attitude and feminism leading me to seriously re-evaluate my attitude.

I have always and continue to envy women who will let their hair grow and not care. I recently came across the “porn” site and am seriously enamored with it. It’s not perfect as far as diversity goes (where are the “fatties” and dark skin??) but I love looking at all the different ways body hair can grow and distribute. At what a natural woman looks like. And I am white and thin, so they reflect my own reality fairly well, which makes it more powerful for me I think. I even found a Chicana who's body hair color and distribution matches my own, with the exception of the hair on her upper lip, which is darker, and her eyebrows, which are fabulous and seriously enviable to me.

However, I am still bound to shaving my armpits every few days. I just can’t get used to the idea of having hair under there, and it’s harder to cover up than leg hair. I have also noticed that my perceived opinion of others strongly influences my feelings on this. I feel stupid and guilty for not being strong enough to truly NOT CARE what they think (what business is it of their’s anyway?!) but I guess the constant reinforcement of the beauty standard just isn’t shrugged off easily.

When we were living in Seattle I would occasionally go out of the house with unshaved legs in basketball shorts to exercise and stuff. I felt like people up there were generally less judgmental than here in CA where I grew up and live again now. Living as close to Berkeley as I do, that is a surprising revelation for me. Perhaps if I was living IN Berkeley itself, or even San Francisco, this would not be so.

Another element of this is, I do like smooth skin. But the thing is, shaving your legs, you don’t get smooth skin! Or at least I don’t… There’s always some spot where you’re running your hand over your leg where you will feel stubbles. So, Jesus, what's the point then?! It doesn’t seem worth it to me. But I do wish my hair grew more evenly. If you didn't look at the pic, I’m one of those women who’s hair basically gets darker and darker the lower it goes on my legs, so it’s really noticeable and dark around my ankles. I don’t think I’d care half so much if it was just the same light brown color everywhere.

As for pubic hair, I can’t stand the way I look shaved. It’s weird looking, infantile, it’s uncomfortable when having sex and even just wearing underwear and just, overall ick. But I do trim, as maintenance and courtesy to my husband and myself (I’m SURE this is TMI but I prefer to wear underwear and if the pubes get too long they get stuck, and, just, ow, ow, ow ow!).

I think I'm sexy, hair and all. I know my husband does too. I think the women on HippieGoddess are sexy, some unbelievably hot. I do want to get to a place where other people's judgments and comforts don't influence my personal beauty standards. And I think I'm working towards it...


  1. Fabulous post. I checked out the images on the Hippie Goddess site, and yeah, you're right, some of those women are HOT! (Did I just type that... what a bad Christian I am becoming). HAHA! Anyway, thanks for the insight. I shaved my legs and armpits and don't have any desire to stop, but it is good to think about WHY I feel I have to do it in order to meet up to some beauty standard.

    BTW -- I am moving my blog. I will send you a link once it's complete.

  2. What a refreshing post!

    I spent most of my 20's and 30's hairy...started as a teen when I saw a woman from Germany with hairy pits and I thought it so sexy. I love the feel of the wind on the hair.

    I started shaving again in my 40's (I'm 51 now). Did the shaved pube thing a few times, but in agreement with you about that one. Hate the way it feels, looks, smells. Plus I'm a thick haired Italian so there's always a 5:00 shadow within a few hours of shaving. Then, gaaaa...the growing in the bumps...all of it..yuck!

    I sometimes feel like such an anachronism about the shaved pubes thing...why/when/how did it become the norm? I missed the ushering in of that fashion, I guess.

  3. I've always wanted to say screw it to shaving body hair, but I don't seem to be able to be that strong.

    As for the pubes... well, like Gillette, I tried completely shaving them a few times, and I didn't like the look or the feel, at the front anyhow. And like her, my hair is so thick and grows so fast, that it was just generally revolting. Now.. underneath, however, along the labia, and the upper thighs, I absolutely love the feel of smooth skin... so sensual on soft panties. That's my compromise now... a neatly and quite closely trimmed bush at the front, and smooth underneath. It works for me.

  4. Hey Mer! I actually sent you an email asking for the link, serenity [dot] sedai [at] gmail [dot] com!

    Gillette, that one is all thanks to porn.

    Marianne, I used to go with that too, but it was still uncomfortable when having sex. Stubbly skin, yikes!

  5. First of all I think it's always a good idea to repeat substantive comments to other people's posts in one's own blog.

    Secondly, good topic.

    "If you didn't look at the pic, I’m one of those women who’s hair basically gets darker and darker the lower it goes on my legs..."

    Almost everybody's leg hair grows that way. I'd never really thought about it but I can see how if you didn't know about it you might feel more like shaving. But sort of like expecting natural breasts to stick straight up even when you're lying down we just don't work that way.

    The people I knew who first trimmed pubic hair were women who switched to pads during the first toxic shock syndrome scare in the 1980s and hated the way it got stuck to the sticky wings or matted by dried flow, but I think you're right about the modern, western, new pubic shaving/waxing thing probably coming from porn.

  6. True true Figleaf, that most people's hair grows that way. HOWEVER, mine like, more uneven than most I think. You can't even see the hair on my upper legs it's so light but once you get down to my ankles, VERY dark. Like, looking around Hippie Goddess that Chicana was the only one I saw who was like that.

  7. I could sit here and brag about the fact that I've never shaved my legs but I think I have it a lot easier than most people because I've never had enough hair grow there for me to feel tempted to shave it. I do shave my underarms because I hate the way that deodorant gets all gloopy and stuck to the hair otherwise. I leave well enough alone with regards to my pubic region. My partner could care less about it and I'm too lazy to try and follow this new bald pubes trend.

  8. I find this issue really interesting - I've never shaved my armpits or pubic hair, and have only rarely shaved my legs. On the other hand, I'm fair-haired and don't have visible facial hair, so I can do all this without any of it being public and visible. Someone (like my girlfriend) who has lip hair and "unacceptable" eyebrow hair is making a different and much stronger statement by not depilating - looking like a "normal woman" is quite a different proposition.

  9. I don't shave anything. If I had visible facial hair I probably would, but I cannot be bothered to shave my legs, and I can't see the point in keeping on top of shaving my armpits if I never wear sleeveless shirts anyway. But I'm not brave, I just wear long pants all the time. If I ever get up the courage to go to a hot spring, I will probably shave my legs first.

  10. I agree with you 100%. Sadly, I still can't go about without caring what people think. So whenever I go out in a dress (which is VERY rare) I shave my legs. Or to go to the beach then I have the SHAVE Session. My hair is very dark and thick and I hate my pubic hair the way it sticks out of my underwear. My main reason for not shaving is I am sooo lazy for everything. Then comes having soo many hair, and it grows back in 2 days! I have a hard time not caring about my body hair because of kids my age (18) think It's "so disgusting", and EVERYONE shaves their pubic hairs.. I seriously don't know HOW they do it.

    Lately I just go with "their there for a reason! to stop infections and stuff."

    Just like you, my boyfriend doesn't care and he says he likes them. I am so lucky for that.

    Thanks for the blog. Someone finally understands.

  11. Thank you for the extraordinarily kind words Lorna. That really means a lot to me.

    Trust me, as your peers get older, increasingly more of them will start thinking about these things. Until then, just keep your head up, your hair is not disgusting!

  12. grow it out mama! long, long, long, thick thick thick! just exactly how you were made to be! show us!

    seriously. how weird that we get this idea that we are "supposed" to be a way that requires blades and such. i love the natural, really. it's all in the mind, in the training. thank god i was born in 69.

  13. A great post! I have very dark body hair that grows fast so I know exactly how frustrating it is to, on one hand, care too much about what people think and, on the other, trying not to give two shits.

    It shouldn't really be an issue but it is, it effects a lot of women's self confidence when we all should be running wild with pride!

  14. Wow! That was quite the story telling! Im quite amazed at all the things you've done! No wonder your soo happy! Well I hope you had your fun and excitement. In the mean while, as winters kicking in right now, we might be expecting some change! A change in weather hopefully to the better, it either has to rain or not! Mother nature is playing games with us :}
    -Much LoVe

  15. great post whastername!
    I have very thick hair too, and generally have black hair all over. sadly, my husband absolutely hates hair, so i need to keep shaved all the time.
    I only get frustrated because if i miss a spot one day, it shows up by evening, and can mess up my evening out :(.
    sometimes i wonder if im just lazy so am frustrated by this or the world is just plain mad to expect us to be hairless.

  16. Almost everybody's leg hair grows that way. I'd never really thought about it but I can see how if you didn't know about it you might feel more like shaving.


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