15 body hair questions you’ve always wanted to ask.
Almost four years ago I stopped removing my body hair. At the time it didn’t feel like a revolutionary act. I wasn’t doing anything. I was choosing not to do something I no longer wanted to do. It never felt brave. It felt natural.
As I’ve embraced and shared images of my body hair online over the last few years, I’ve received many questions that have made me realize my simple mind-set change is still a foreign concept to many.
I’d like to shed some light on these sweet strands we’ve slashed away for so many years. When I do, you might see that they sparkle.
Why did you stop shaving? Are you anti-shaving?
I didn’t purposely stop shaving…at first.
It started in 2012. I was sick for months and physically exhausted. Shaving was nonessential, so it went out the window quickly. When I felt better I shaved, but with a strange new feeling: I’d actually gotten used to my body hair and missed it when I shaved it off. I remember hating the way prickly legs felt under the bedcovers and longing for the sleek hair. Still, I kept shaving because I felt it was the normal thing to do.
I officially stopped shaving in 2014. My health had improved significantly, but I was still searching for answers to my remaining symptoms. Though I could’ve made time for shaving, I no longer felt it was worth my energy, time or money. I decided my mental and physical health were more important. There wasn’t enough space in my brain to worry about something as unrewarding and inconsequential as body hair removal.
When it comes to other people’s body hair, to each their own! I think we should all feel free to do what we want with our body hair.
Do you like your body hair?
My body hair is a part of me — I love it. At first I didn’t have such strong feelings toward it. I didn’t mind my body hair, but that was as far as it went. Over time I came to see my hair as something sweet and magical, something that tied me to the animals in my life and around me. I now view my hair with the same respect and reverence I would the feathers of a cardinal or the fur of my cats.
I have a recurring nightmare where someone shaves my leg hair and I feel violated and wounded. I think those dreams represent the way much of society still views body hair — as something unwanted, to be cut away and washed down a drain.
My body hairs feel like a million appendages of mine. I’m thankful for them the way I’m thankful for my skin and every working organ.
Plus my hair sparkles in the sunlight — it’s like built-in body glitter.
How does having body hair affect your body image?
I love my body more than I ever have.
There’s one less qualifier of my aesthetic value. I never have to ask myself, “Have I shaved? Are my legs okay to show in public today? Can I wear shorts?” What those questions really feel like, to me, are “Am I good enough to be seen now? Do I need to hide a part of my body?”
Hair is no longer a factor when measuring my worth. That mentality bled over into countless areas of my life. I started realizing when I was judging myself for meaningless things or trying to look a certain way for others. As I stopped shaving off my hair, I stopped trying to shave off pounds.
Now my body image is much more about how I feel moving through the world than how my body looks. Comfort is a big part of confidence. The hair is comfortable for me, so I’m more confident. When I feel loose and natural, I feel at my most beautiful.
What is your gender identity, and was it affected by body hair?
I’m still figuring out what feminine/masculine mean to me and how they correlate to female/male. Biologically I’m a female. Personally I feel beyond a binary. As in most things in life, I feel that I am on a spectrum, somewhere close to center. I do not feel male, but I can’t wholeheartedly identify with the label female, even though I am. I am not transgender, but I do think my body appears more feminine than I feel. I don’t mind it at all, and I don’t wish to change anything to look more male or female.
I used to paint my nails, dye my hair blonde, wear skirts, shave. I have no judgment toward anyone doing any of that, but looking back, I was usually doing it to feel acceptably feminine. Embracing my body hair allowed me to step away from the things I was doing to please others and discover what actually made me love myself and feel beautiful.
Do you feel more masculine or more feminine with body hair?
A lot of people say body hair is a masculine trait, but I don’t believe that. There are people of all genders who have copious amounts of body hair, and people of all genders who have very little or none. The spectrum of body hair isn’t bound by gender.
That being said, I feel both more masculine and more feminine with body hair. I feel more whole.
Does the hair make you warmer? Do you sweat more?
No. If anything, I find I regulate temperature better. If there’s any difference in how much I sweat, it’s not enough to notice.
Do your pits get smelly?
Armpits, whether hairy or shaved, are dark, wet caves designed to detoxify our bodies. When I did shave, I had to wash my armpits every day and wear deodorant — or I’d be smelly. Now that I don’t shave, I still wash my armpits every day and wear deodorant. Some people are less smelly than others. I eat onions, I exercise, and I live in the subtropics; I get smelly, I wash. It’s not a big deal.
What does the hair feel like? Is it soft? Does it tickle?
Body hair feels wonderful and often fairly soft when you let it grow out for two to three months. I definitely like it better than prickly legs or pits. Also, body hair prevents chafing in the armpit and between the thighs, so walking feels much better with hair!
Sometimes it tickles when a wind blows through. It’s a reminder that body hair is a sensory device with actual function. It catches the wind and relays information about the weather to my brain.
How have people reacted?
There’s been a lot of positivity online. Men and women of all ages have messaged me to say how happy they are to see a woman embracing her body hair. Girls have asked me how to be confident enough to walk out of the house with their hair showing. Women have told me they talked to their husbands to see how they feel about female body hair.
I’ve been lucky that I haven’t received a lot of negative feedback. Online I get negative comments occasionally, but not often. They don’t bother me, because body hair isn’t something I’m insecure about anymore. I saw more negative reactions a few years ago, which I think goes to show how quickly acceptance can spread.
Ironically, some of the online negativity has been from a few women with darker body hair saying it’s easy for me to embrace my body hair because it’s lighter than theirs. I think it’s easy for people to say that online, but my hair is definitely apparent in person. I’m Greek and Irish, so even though my hair isn’t dark, it’s rather plush. Each of us can embrace our own body, and I’m choosing to do that.
In person, the response has been only positive. I live in South Florida, so I’ve come to realize that people here are very “live and let live” compared to much of the world. A lot of my lady friends are really supportive, and some have chosen to quit shaving or to shave less often. I had a pool party for my birthday, and a few female friends came over, not having shaved in a week or more. They told me they knew it would be accepted and appreciated here — they were glad not to feel the pressure to shave. My guy friends either don’t care or think it’s cool.
Do people stare?
Not that I’ve noticed. I truly believe most people don’t notice as much as others think they do.
What does your boyfriend think?
My boyfriend wants me to be comfortable and happy, so he doesn’t care either way. From the beginning he encouraged me to do what I wanted. We spend a lot of time in nature, and he’s always had a great appreciation for the natural state of things.
Are there any downsides to body hair?
In winter, when it’s cold and you wear pants all day, the fabric pushes the leg hairs down and the sensitive follicles sometimes hurt at the end of the day. (This is actually a discussed issue in the body hair positive community.)
Also, it takes me a few extra seconds to dry off after a swim or a shower. That’s pretty much it.
Why do you advocate for body hair positivity?
I want to show that embracing your body hair is a perfectly acceptable and beautiful choice. The more we see something, the more familiar it becomes and the more normal it feels to everyone. I want girls and women who see my photos to know it’s an option for them, too. If I can embrace my hair, love it, and love my body more, so can they. I want girls to know they have a choice. If they want to shave, they can. But if, like me, they shaved because they thought it was expected, I want them to know they don’t have to be controlled by that.
I want women to feel comfortable in public with their hair, to feel beautiful, to see another woman embrace it. I want to reassure them that they are beautiful, valuable and lovable with or without body hair.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of quitting shaving?
There’s no commitment! Try it. Give it a month or a few months. Ask yourself why you’re thinking about quitting and why you would keep shaving if you don’t like to. Ask yourself if you’d rather spend those 20 minutes another way. If you do decide to quit, don’t be afraid to go out in public with your hair showing. Like anything, it may take time to get used to, but eventually you won’t even think about it.
Will you ever shave again?
Never say never. I have nothing against shaving, per se, and shaving isn’t permanent.