A Letter From a Girl Who Used to Shave

Dear Smooth, Hairless Past-Self,

beachYou shave almost every day. You live in a culture where most women do. You spend money on razors and shaving cream, and you would never go out in a skirt without smooth legs. You and hairy armpits do not mix, and a hairy body is a situation you wouldn’t want a boy to see, let alone yourself.

Greetings, this is your future self, and I am writing to say that a certain number of years from now, your idea of body hair will transform. You will become a hairy woman.

Don’t be alarmed, the change will be gradual and make sense. First, you will become more involved with travel and the outdoors. You will volunteer on trail crews all over the country, live months at a time in the woods with few opportunities to shower. Washing in streams, dipping in rivers will satisfy after a long day in the woods. You will forget about the growing hair on your body until, at some point, a mirror will remind you. Then the panic will set in. You will think it’s gross, that you look like a man and it’s unattractive. You will waste time and energy with crappy disposable razors and cheap soap trying to maintain an image that is long gone, irrelevant, pointless to maintain. But it will take time to realize that.

What keeps you from letting go?

Why, societies imposing ideals of femininity and female beauty, of course. It’s not your fault – you grew up in a culture where the standards of female beauty are crucial to learn. A girl’s first shave is significant. It’s entering womanhood, for she now has hair that needs to be shaved, which she didn’t before.

Your cultures teaches you that boys like girls to be smooth and hairless, and you want boys to like you, right? So the desire to be beautiful in the eyes of men and accepted by the arms of society has kept you shaving all these years without question. After all, if feels right.

So when will shaving start to feel wrong?

Before it feels wrong, shaving will become irrelevant, unnecessary for your lifestyle. Once you graduate college, you will join a five month trail crew in the Adirondacks and again, spend all your time in the woods. The outdoorsy people will influence your decision to forget the razors. You’ll ask yourself, who am I shaving for? Who cares that I be shaven? You’ll realize, no one. You are all dirty people working in the woods. It’s not worth the trouble.

It will be a self-experiment, watching the hair emerge on your body. Patterns you’ve never seen before. Worried that people might stare at you or make comments.

Once your hair is fully grown, you will have forgotten it’s there. Who has time to worry
about hair when you’re busy doing awesome outdoorsy things? Not you.

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Then, after five months of no shaving, you’ll attend your sisters wedding as a bridesmaid and have to shave again. Don’t worry, this will be your last time. The process of shaving all your hair will be annoying and tedious. This is when shaving will finally feel wrong.

You will conclude that society’s standards of female beauty are ridiculous. And you are better off without them.

After the wedding, you will return to the woods and live happily ever after. Now, I will tell you what my life is like as future you, a travel and outdoor enthusiast, with a body full of hair.

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I am super low maintenance. No need to shower every day, my body feels fine with a little grime. People shower too much, anyway.

I save water because I’m not wasting time shaving. I save money on razors and shaving cream, not to mention shampoo and conditioner because overall, I am lower maintenance. Fewer products means less wasted plastic. Future you is very environmentally conscious.

I forget my hair is there. So it’s impossible to care what other people think. I feel more liberated, less constrained by other people’s idea of beauty.

I think boys who find unshaven women unattractive are unattractive. It’s probable he only thinks he thinks hairy women are unattractive. I’ve met boys who worry that if women stop shaving, they’ll look like them. Um, honey, no. You have 10 times more hair on your body than I can biologically grow. Usually when boys see my legs they say, “That’s it?”

Good guys like a girl for the awesome person she is, not for whether she’s shaven or not. He knows that it’s a woman’s right to govern the choices regarding her body and respect her for doing so.

I give him permission to lighten up on himself. Boys have body image pressure, too, but none they’ll get from me.

Body hair puts me on a more equal playing field. Why are women the ones who have to shave, anyway? My life is more versatile, more adaptable without the burden of female body hair maintenance. I can go anywhere and do anything! The important thing is to better myself, my skills, my brain, my health, rather than the state of my body hair.

A lot of things that used to feel normal, now feel unnatural. Even wearing makeup. It’s like, who let the clown in?

I’m 100% natural, the way my body was meant to be, and for that, I’m happy.

Much Love,

Future Jenna

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