On Being a Feminine Human with Body Hair
Frida Kahlo: painter, feminist, stranger to hot wax strips.
By Anya Volz, Contributor
Let’s not beat around the bush: I have one. I am twenty-one years old, sexually active and I have a full George W. I have done approximately zero maintenance of my leg, pubic or armpit hair for about two years now, and to be frank I’ve gotten to a point where I would be upset if I had to. For real, I had a dream the other night that I was forced to shave one strip of hair on my right shin and I woke up in a sweat. I am attached. Literally and figuratively.
I didn’t stop shaving and waxing for political reasons, I just stopped because already at nineteen years old I was sick and tired of it. I started shaving when I was probably eight, — because ya know! The crippling pressures of society! Hehe!! — and it’s hard to believe that, that totals my body hair maintenance to over a decade before I even turned twenty. Shaving is time consuming and the benefits are fleeting. I would get stubble not even 3 hours after a thorough, clean shave and I would usually have at least one scab to show for it. The risk to reward ratio was revealing itself loudly and clearly: This charade was not worth it.
In November of 2013 my internet friend Kate (hi Kate!) and I made a pact to go the entire month without shaving. We would snapchat each other pictures of our armpit hair progression and Facebook message about how soft our leg hair was now that it wasn’t sandpaper stubble. It was a blast, honestly. We were in it together and we were experiencing a side of body hair we had never really been allowed to before. We both ended up shaving pretty immediately once November ended, and the honeymoon phase with our luscious body hair quickly wore off and became a distant memory. But the excitement we felt, although transient, was real. We were women who felt powerful and beautiful. Not in spite of, but because of the body hair that we chose to grow.
The feeling of choice stuck with me. Ever since that November, every time I took a razor or hot wax to my legs, armpits or otherwise, I reminded myself I was making a choice. I was not doing so because I had to, I was doing it because I wanted to. And if one day I no longer felt like doing it, the choice to stop was also mine. So that’s what I did. I stopped.
So here I am, a year later. I have a full happy trail, and a carpet to mismatch my drapes. Here is my basic guide to how YOU, TOO can maneuver the hairy situation of being a furry woman in a hairless world.
1. You just have to own it
Even the most well-intentioned people will miss the point. No, I didn’t simply forget to shave (for the past 24 months) and was caught off guard once the sunlight hit my leg hair when I left the house this morning. No, my body hair is not a political conversation-starter. And no, I’m not embarrassed. People are going to assume your body hair is embarrassing, but it’s totally up to you to be embarrassed. We’ve been trained to equate feminine people being “caught” having body hair with showing up to work in your underwear or something. And if she dare not be ashamed of it, then she must be a crunchy hippie. Well, just call me Captain because this hippie’s got the Crunch. This is just my body’s natural, uninhibited state. I do not owe any of y’alls an explanation, if simple biology is not explanation enough.
2. Body hair does not desexualize you
The world wants us to believe that if a woman is hairy that means she is unfuckable. Well, allow me to testify that, that is not the case. I have not conducted an official study, but my personal experience suggests that neither men nor women (nor anyone in-between) are deterred by your body hair if they were sexually attracted to you to begin with. In fact, I would go as far as to say that in most cases my apologies* for having leg/armpit/pubic hair has been a far bigger turn off for my sexual partners in the past than the actual hair itself. Guess which sexual acts body hair get in the way of: Yep, none of them! If you find yourself in a situation where it is a deal breaker for someone, that should be a deal breaker for you.
Everyone is entitled to having preferences, but we should all have the preference of not letting douche bags inside us. (Literal douche bags, too! Those things are not good for your vagina! PSA!)
*I have since stopped apologizing, because of #1, but we all go through growing pains. Gimme a break!
3. Pick your battles
There’s no way around it. Unfortunately, it is inevitable that someone is going to say something condescending, insulting, downright ignorant, or some combination of the three. The thing about these people: they don’t matter. Whoops! Did I say that? No, listen, I’m sure they are great at something and contribute to our society in some productive fashion and yadda yadda everyone is a precious butterfly blah blah. However, in this particular context, they. don’t. matter. They are asserting some kind of superiority complex and projecting their insecurities onto your own goddamn business. Whether intentional or not, our body hair is seen as a rebellion and with that there will always come resistance. For some reason, a lot of people take women making decisions about their own bodies very personally, even though it has nothing to do with them. Yes, even other women. Internalized misogyny is real and it’s coming for ya.
At the end of the day, their petty comments and misconceptions aren’t doing any good for this world, and anything we have to say to them isn’t going to change their minds. Take solace in the glory that you are right. UNLESS HOWEVER!!! This is a person of no consequence in your life and you enjoy putting these whiny babies in their place. So long as it doesn’t bring you mental or emotional duress, I say go for it.
4. It’s all up to you!
Listen, remember that thing I said about choice? Yeah, that’s the bottom line. You don’t owe it to anybody to be any certain way, in general but also when it comes to you and your fuzz. If you feel like the best version of yourself with not a single hair on your body, awesome. If you feel best with hair legs but bare armpits, right on! If you want to grow out your unibrow and bush but shave everything else, literally do whatever you want. Your preferences are going to change and your idea of beauty is going to evolve and it is 100% up to you how you want to navigate this crazy, hairy world. As long as you feel you are being true to yourself and not letting anyone make those decisions for you, I got your hairy back.
Remember, if all else fails, just say you’re French.
Anya Volz is a Vermont standup and sketch comic, now based out of New York City. She has performed in the Green Mountain Comedy Festival, Gilda’s LaughFest, Bird City Comedy Festival, Women in Comedy Festival, Cape Fear Comedy Festival and has featured for several national headliners. She co-wrote, directed and starred in the sketch web series YONIC TONIC and is involved in various other sketch collaborations in New York. She is currently a co-host of the podcast In the Shwick of It on Kpiss.fm and is a contributing writer for the popular punk satire site The Hard Times. @AnyaVolz