I’m just back from a painful trip to the beautician. Nothing went wrong, everything was completely routine and professional; it’s just that getting waxed anywhere is particular painful especially when in a…er…sensitive area.
As I’m lying there, naked from the waist down, legs spread, while a stranger yanks out my pubic hair, I thought; why on earth am I putting myself through this pain?! I try to reassure myself – it’s so much neater and you feel fresher when there’s no hair down there. I’m going on a beach holiday and don’t want people to see my shameful bikini line when wearing swimmers. It’ll be nicer for my husband, I guess. But are those reasons worth it? My husband would still love me if I sprouted a third arm and as for the people on the beach – why the hell do I care?
People are starting to embrace their natural body hair recently. You can find thousands of images under the #girlswithhairyarms or #bodyhairdontcare hashtags. Celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, Paris Jackson and Bethany Meyers are posted selfies to social media with unshaved armpits and late last year model Arvida Bystrom posed for an Adidas ad (pictured) with noticeably hairy legs and armpits. But what is it about female body hair that is so offensive to people?
In 2014, Breanne Fahs of Arizona State University conducted a study in which one group of women were made to imagine growing out their body and another group to actually do so. Both groups considered their hair, hypothetical or otherwise, undesirable.
The women imagining themselves au natural said they would remove their hair out of personal choice. However, the women who actually went about their lives without shaving or waxing said they felt pressured to do so. Rarely mentioning de-fuzzing as a personal choice, the women in the second group cited “homophobia, family and partner anger, and internalised disgust and ‘dirtiness.”
The entire world is conditioned to detest female body hair. Movie and TV directors can’t even bring themselves to depict a hairy arm, leg, pit or whatever on a female character from medieval times when razors were nowhere to be found.
Ultimately, it’s down to choice. I will choose to keep waxing and shaving because I want to. Though, is it really a choice? Or is it the result of a lifetime of social conditioning that has manipulated me to believe my natural hair is something to be ashamed of? Hopefully one day I, and women everywhere, will be able to accept their body for what it is without being judged by those around us.
x LA x