As women we are taught from a young age that our contribution to or worth in society lies partially in how attractive we are. This seems like an overstated feminist mantra, but…
I’ve shaved since I was 13, when my mother bought me a razor and told me that it was time. It was just accepted that I was growing dark hair so I needed to rid myself of it.
I never questioned this, till I realised that I am constantly fighting stubble; ingrown hairs; and unhappy skin. I tried everything I could to lessen these effects. The men in my life didn’t have to do that. None of them shaved at all. In fact, my dad and brother grow beards exactly because of razor burn and ingrown hairs. So I stopped shaving. I felt liberated. My showers have become mine again and my skin feels healthy, much less effort than trying to nurse my post-shave skin. I still shave occasionally, because sometimes I just want to.
I experienced comments from so many people about how unattractive long hair is. At work with two other women the following conversation took place:
Woman 1: ‘Why are your arms so hairy?’
Woman 2: ‘You can’t just ask people that? Some people just are hairier’
Me: ‘It’s okay. Genetics I guess. And I don’t like shaving them. I often don’t shave my armpits either’
Woman 2: ‘Ew, that’s not attractive.’
This bugged me as at the root of their comments is the fact that unattractiveness equals low worth or contributing little to society. However; as women we often forget to check our own perceptions and project the societal prejudices we are accustomed to on to our bodies.