Hersuteness
June 25, 2019 6:23 AM   Subscribe

The new feminist armpit hair revolution: half-statement, half-ornament - "Female body hair is becoming more visible in popular culture and, while the issue has been around for decades, the new enthusiasm for hirsuteness has a 21st-century twist." (previously)
posted by kliuless (76 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
Self-actualization FTW.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:48 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


the new enthusiasm for hirsuteness

is long overdue. FUCK mandatory baldness. Fuck mandatory makeup, fuck mandatory hair product, fuck mandatory dress codes, fuck all style police who act like they have a God-given right to tell anybody else how they have to look. And while we're at it, fuck making humans think they need to smell like Axe instead of like clean healthy humans.

Fuck Gillette, nasally, with a five blade safety razor.
posted by flabdablet at 7:02 AM on June 25 [48 favorites]


I am happy to see that the ethos of hairyback.com (RIP) is finally coming home to roost.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:06 AM on June 25 [3 favorites]


My niece calls infants "born babies" I would like to know, why are females required to have the body hair of "born babies"?
posted by lextex at 7:09 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


Less body hair than some born babies I've seen.
posted by flabdablet at 7:12 AM on June 25 [4 favorites]


I have loved armpit hair since I could first feel the twinges of sexual electricity coursing through me and y’all I am so happy that more women are not shaving. I like every gender, so for me this is more of what I like on more folks.

sorry for not being intellectual and politically astute in this conversation lol. Things in my critical mind at this moment are:
-Consider how your mind may intrinsically be defaulting to cis women as you think about this politically.
-Consider how this discourse may affect trans and non-binary communities and tune your critiques of how society sucks towards women with the idea of providing safer passage for trans and non-binary people to navigate their dysphoria and treatments of such dysphoria.
posted by nikaspark at 7:15 AM on June 25 [15 favorites]


There is even more stigma against natural body hair on women in the UK than in North America. I've been only haphazardly shaving for 20 years or so, but only Brits would ever make a personal comment about it.

I even once saw the most (unintentionally) hilarious video from the UK where random people on the street were being asked about what they thought about hair on women's legs - and (after several people talking about how "gross" it was), one person burst out with, "It's just not natural!"

-------

I know people (male, female or neither) who shave their body hair, others who don't. I figure the only people who should comment are people who are intimate enough to be touching your body hair - and they get a vote (Not a veto, but a vote). I feel hypocritical as I require my partner to shave (or, at least, not grow a beard) and he doesn't require that I do. But he doesn't mind and is accepting of my quirk. Well, that one at least.
posted by jb at 7:15 AM on June 25 [6 favorites]


My body hair is gorgeous, and so is yours.
posted by minervous at 7:18 AM on June 25 [10 favorites]


Finally, something I'm ahead of the curve on! (Haven't shaved a pit--or a leg--since the 90s except for once in 2000 when I got married so my mom wouldn't plotz.)

hairy, ugly, man-hating weirdos
Guilty as charged!
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:18 AM on June 25 [17 favorites]


I agree with ending societal pressure to defoliate. Do what you want, it's your body! That said, growing armpit hair is a good way to triple your anti-perspirant bill... I've been removing mine with my beard trimmer almost as long as I've been shaving. It's a practical consideration, not an aesthetic one.
posted by Snowflake at 7:32 AM on June 25 [13 favorites]


I like my armpit hair best when it's growing back from shaving. It's cute and soft. And yet I don't feel at all comfortable wearing a sleeveless top unless I've just shaved, it's sad.

I do agree that antiperspirant or deodorant works better with short pit hair, although you have to get quite bushy before it's an issue. It's literally the only reason I pick up a razor in the winter.
posted by stillnocturnal at 7:42 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


I find myself in a strange place personally with this because I completely agree and encourage everyone to be themselves the way they want to be, wish smoothness weren't a social norm for women because it's a huge hassle, am an AMAB transgender woman, shave my entire body throughout the week (way more often than I'd like to) so that I can take away a significant male signifier (my body hair is not subtle or fine). In short, life is complicated.
posted by kokaku at 7:45 AM on June 25 [21 favorites]


I tried shaving my armpits for a bit, partly just for the experience and partly as an empathic exercise. The main difference I noticed is that, for me at least, it seemed to make my anti-perspirant + deodorant much less effective. On the one hand, hair is more real estate for bacteria to grow on, but it's also more real estate for the anti-perspirant to stick to. The net result, at least for me, was that I seemed sweatier and smellier than usual to myself.

On the other hand, several people I know who regularly shave their armpits reported the opposite phenomenon, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by jedicus at 7:56 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


growing armpit hair is a good way to triple your anti-perspirant bill

I find the opposite, I assume because deodorant stays on for longer by sticking to the hair.
posted by metasarah at 8:00 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


My body hair is gorgeous, and so is yours

Hair are your aerials

OK, so maybe "signals from the cosmos" is overstating it a bit, but hair really does help us connect to our surroundings.

As a younger fool I once decided I liked Sinéad O'Connor's look enough to try it out myself and shaved my head completely. I was really looking forward to my first bald shower, thinking it would be really intense and sensuous, but it was super disappointing - it felt like showering in a bathing cap. It wasn't until my hair had grown out to maybe 6mm that my scalp really started being able to feel things properly again.

I've since done the same experiment with arm hair and leg hair, neither of which I'm particularly generously endowed with, with much the same result: my balded skin just stops being able to feel air and water currents, a sensation I find weird and disturbing. The thought of people being required to do this to themselves has made me angry for a very long time, and I get something like a mild version of survivor guilt from presenting as male always having made it optional for me.

Little ms. flabdablet has quite lush body hair and I've always done what I can to encourage her to see that as beautiful, but the sheer weight of plasticated manufactured overgroomed airbrushed image in the media she and her peers prefer to consume continues to turn her against herself. I grieve and rage for that when I'm by myself, but what's a dad to do?

FUCK Gillette.
posted by flabdablet at 8:02 AM on June 25 [11 favorites]


I agree with ending societal pressure to defoliate. Do what you want, it's your body! That said, growing armpit hair is a good way to triple your anti-perspirant bill... I've been removing mine with my beard trimmer almost as long as I've been shaving. It's a practical consideration, not an aesthetic one.

Co-signed to all of the above. I want to live in a society where no one feels pressured to alter their body. On the flipside, I personally find all armpit hair disgusting regardless of what human it is attached to. I deal with this by shaving my own and keeping my opinion to myself when it comes to others.
posted by skullhead at 8:04 AM on June 25 [6 favorites]


I’m all for people making whatever personal choices they want about hair. Ideally, in my fantasy utopian world, those would be simply aesthetic personal choices, not with all of this burden of societal pressure and judgment, but that is not the world we live in.

The photo in the article of the dyed pit hair is great, I’d love to see that catch on.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:07 AM on June 25 [4 favorites]


I shave my armpit hair, and I'm a dude. It's made my life better minorly and I would recommend it just cause I use a little trimmer and it takes 5 seconds. I don't razor it. Anyway, less society pressure is good.

One time I razored my whole chest and stomach cause I have TONS of chest hair (and no back hair weirdly). That was a trip.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:14 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


I'm happiest in my own skin when I have furry legs and smooth armpits. (Where by "smooth" I mean more or less "I shave them every few weeks, it's hardly an everyday affair, but at some point I go, whoa, that's more hair than I want, thanks, and mow it down.") Mostly because for my own body/pheromones/whatever, I do feel much sweatier and smellier with armpit hair, and I'm not a fan of that feeling. But colorful pit hair on other people is cute as hell. If I grew my underarm hair out long-term for some reason, I would definitely investigate what's involved in dying it.

I distinctly remember being a kid who got teased in the gym class locker room because I hadn't started shaving my legs or underarms yet when most of my peers had. It makes me very angry, in retrospect. Not about the kids themselves, but that a bunch of (fifth? ish?)-grade girl had so thoroughly absorbed the requisite societal beauty standards as to weaponize them against each other.
posted by Stacey at 8:20 AM on June 25 [7 favorites]


I haven't shaved my legs in 10 years, maybe longer? It's sparse and fine and I wear pants 90% of the time so it takes a lot of looking to see it. One year we went on a cruise to Mexico and Belize, so it's warm and I'm wearing shorts. We're at a port where you have to take a tender to shore and I'm sitting across from some kid who's maybe 16 or 17 at most. I notice he's staring but not trying to be obvious. I don't look like much more than a middle aged white woman so I have no idea what he's about until we get to shore and realize I was probably the first woman he's seen with full leg hair.

I don't even register it's existence any more.
posted by fiercekitten at 8:23 AM on June 25 [3 favorites]


The only body hair removal I do is for my own comfort. Which right now means a shaved head and hairy legs. 🎉 FUCK THE PATRIARCHY
posted by a strong female character at 8:25 AM on June 25 [12 favorites]


One time I razored my whole chest and stomach cause I have TONS of chest hair (and no back hair weirdly). That was a trip.

So did I! Regret city on that one.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:27 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


I hate shaving, partly because of the hassle, but mostly because of the fact that I have skin tags in my bikini line and in one of my armpits that makes shaving super inconvenient, and also hair growing back on my legs gets really itchy almost immediately and I just can't help but scratch ugly scabs all over the place. Not a good look.

So I'll stay hairy, thanks.
posted by HypotheticalWoman at 8:30 AM on June 25


I have loved armpit hair since I could first feel the twinges of sexual electricity coursing through me and y’all I am so happy that more women are not shaving.

Magnanimous, really, to not find us revolting.

I yearn for a time when women can not only exist unfettered from the expectation that we should pluck/shave/wax/paint ourselves for others' comfort, but are furthermore free from the neverending litany of adjudications as to whether our choices make us more or less sexually appealing to the people around us. It isn't a compliment, it's just a really fucking awkward thing to be constantly reminded about. Is there *any* way to escape the running commentary?
posted by obstinate harpy at 8:32 AM on June 25 [40 favorites]


On the flipside, I personally find all armpit hair disgusting regardless of what human it is attached to. I deal with this by shaving my own and keeping my opinion to myself when it comes to others.

uh
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:33 AM on June 25 [20 favorites]


"but are furthermore free from the neverending litany of adjudications as to whether our choices make us more or less sexually appealing to the people around us."

Civilization would have gone a lot smoother if homo sapiens just used a bright coloured ass as the primary sign of sexual fertility/fitness/availability. We just had to have a mess of sexual signals that have heavy negative implications for an animal looking to create an egalitarian society.
posted by GoblinHoney at 8:44 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


Magnanimous, really, to not find us revolting.

I contain multitudes and I assure there’s more going on inside than one comment on metafilter, that said, apologies for only speaking up about how I’m attracted to folks not and not properly shaping the blast radius of that comment away from how misogyny and the male gaze shapes the way sexual minorities have to express their sexual attractions...

Im here to learn and be better.
posted by nikaspark at 8:45 AM on June 25 [6 favorites]


if homo sapiens just used a bright coloured ass as the primary sign of sexual fertility/fitness/availability

Wait, that's not what that means?

Bugger it. I've used up too much of this stuff to get my money back now.
posted by flabdablet at 8:47 AM on June 25 [3 favorites]


We just had to have a mess of sexual signals that have heavy negative implications for an animal looking to create an egalitarian society.

The fact that people choose to stigmatize armpit hair on women as a means of enforcing obedience to patriarchal norms is not the fault of the armpit hair.
posted by a strong female character at 9:00 AM on June 25 [5 favorites]


The Unladylike podcast just did a 3-part series on body hair featuring Sasheer Zamata and others! I really enjoyed it.

KITTEN PITS FOR NOW, KITTEN PITS FOREVER
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:11 AM on June 25 [6 favorites]


Oh, and for all you wondering about the best antiperspirant/deodorant for said kitten pits, here it is:

Secret Clear Gel

Goes on easily, no clumps, no white marks, totally invisible, and does the job well.
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:14 AM on June 25 [4 favorites]


But does it leave a never-drying semi-damp blotch on your clothes? Because the Mitchum Clear Gel does if you put on a little too much.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:23 AM on June 25 [3 favorites]


I’d like to make a second plug for the Unladylike series fiercecupcakes mentions above. Episode 2 includes interviewing a woman who is transgendered and a woman who has thicker, darker hair than her predominantly white surroundings.

I don’t shave anymore (except my face). I have very very dark thick leg and armpit hair. It’s an ongoing thing for me. It is a performance. A performance of being at peace with my body that has done so much for me.

Thanks for making this post. It always makes me feel less alone to spot fellow non-shavers.
posted by CMcG at 9:35 AM on June 25 [4 favorites]


Third plug for the Unladylike series! It was excellent!

Also, since we're sharing shaving preferences, I still like to shave although a combination of getting older and more body hair acceptance means I don't shave my pits every day. It's more like every few days now? And my legs once every week or two. I also pluck my bikini hair line, which is horrifying to some people but I prefer the way it looks and I'm less likely to get ingrown hairs.
posted by lucy.jakobs at 9:41 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


seanmpuckett, nope, no damp blotchy marks, though I do put mine on first and put my dress on last so it has some time to dry down a bit. Even when I don't I haven't really had that problem.
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:43 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


Oh, and for all you wondering about the best antiperspirant/deodorant for said kitten pits, here it is:

Secret Clear Gel


Can confirm: This is what I use. No damp blotchy marks.
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:45 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


I've always shaved my pits from back when I can remember, and often shaved my legs. I don't see that changing; I don't like my body hair much at all.

But if other people want to let it all grow out, I'm all for it.
posted by anem0ne at 9:46 AM on June 25 [4 favorites]


Regarding the word "disgusting," which I've had thrown at me a lot: I respect that people have Feelings about bodies and about body hair, but I do strongly believe that no one should find any body "disgusting." That says more about the speaker than about the object of their disgust.

I've been in recovery from an eating disorder for...15 or so years now? And one of the ways I got over all the disgust I had for my body and other people's bodies was by deliberately choosing to see pictures of other bodies, all sorts. People happy in the bodies they have, people enjoying their bodies, people (blissfully) not thinking about their bodies. Big little old young trans cis black brown white abled disabled wrinkled smooth hairy tattooed splotchy bodies.

This one meatsack is all I have. I find I have a much more pleasant time on earth when I don't hate it and don't hate anyone else's.

I always tell people to grow out all their body hair at least once. You might learn something you didn't know about yourself!
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:50 AM on June 25 [31 favorites]


I'd also like to give some encouragement to those who desire to have more body hair but are understandably worried about peoples' reactions.

I do not present as anything other than a basic semi-frumpy middle-aged white cis lady. I dress in Eddie Bauer and wear sensible flat Mary Janes. So, I'm not rocking colorful hair (pit or head or elsewhere) or punk rock fashion or model-good-looks. There is nothing else attention-getting about the way I look or present. But, I don't shave anywhere and I wear sleeveless shirts and shorts/short skirts with impunity. If you feel like you want to go this route, you just have to take a deep breath and do it. You'll feel really self-conscious and awkward for a while. You'll feel like everyone is staring. They might be, they might not be (it's probably less than you think, at any rate). But eventually? I stopped caring, and then I moved beyond not caring to just not even remembering that there's something about me that is different from what people are expecting. It's one of those "the only way out is through" things. And like fiercecupcake says above, you might learn something about yourself, and probably also about the people close to you, too.
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:56 AM on June 25 [14 favorites]


I mostly don't shave anywhere anymore though I occasionally shave my pits, mostly because it is fun--now you see it, now you don't--all for my own amusement. I used to have lots of thick, dark, body hair--and I swam a lot. It was always a painful, hour or more long process to get "swimsuit ready". I am so happy I don't feel I need to do that anymore. Now I'm a grey haired older woman so even going swimming all hairy I am not the one anyone is looking at--or I don't care if anyone is looking at me--hard to say which.

When I was 21, I did one of those "See all of Europe in 52 days" kind of trips. On a bus with fellow college students from all over the US. One of our stops was Nice/Monte Carlo. The young men were SUPER excited to go to the beach because women went topless! I stayed at the hotel so I saw when they all came trooping back early looking very disappointed. The didn't realize that at the time (1981) most of the women at the beach didn't shave, women of all shapes, sizes, and ages were there wearing little bikini bottoms. Just not the fantasy they had conjured up. I laughed and laughed.
posted by agatha_magatha at 10:38 AM on June 25 [17 favorites]


from upthread....
OK, so maybe "signals from the cosmos" is overstating it a bit, but hair really does help us connect to our surroundings.

So, one thing I've noticed having no hair after decades of having plenty is how exposed I feel. Like I'm not wearing a layer of armor (even though as armor goes, body hair ain't going to do much). More in contact with my surroundings not less because i feel temperature and air directly on my skin, rather than mediated by hair.
posted by kokaku at 10:44 AM on June 25


Oh man this is complicated for transfemme people, even before cultural expectations or the patriarchy, may it be ever smashed. Just as it's own thing.

And before I get started I support people doing whatever they want with their hair. One of my favorite people is pan/GQ ish but also femme and they rock some whiskers and would grow a beard if they could.

Most of my hair bugs me on a personal level and I love my cheap little rechargeable clippers which basically get used everywhere. If I don't trim my pits things get weird and, ah, hairy. I mean it's downright physically uncomfortable sometimes because it'll get caught in my clothes or get pinchy.

More than once I've found myself wistfully browsing high end electric wet-dry shavers, reading reviews and realizing they're all cost nearly as much as a decent entry level bicycle or medium priced phone or something and way out of my budget.

One of the things I wasn't expecting about starting therapy was dealing with face hair with thinner, more sensitive skin. It's incredibly irritating, and now I know first hand why most of my partners weren't interested in make out when I had pokey stubble, because it's like a damn brillo pad.

So over my life I've experienced an entire spectrum and gamut of presentation from heavily bearded to clean-shaven all over and cultural reactions to it.

People liked my beard - I honestly hated it. Somehow it made me more approachable and friendly and was useful working as a barista for a while, but it felt like a mask because it basically hid my face and emotions and expressions - which admittedly can be intense.

I really really dislike my arm and hand hair, and one of the strange things I noticed even presenting male was that if I left it untrimmed people of either gender reacted to me a lot differently then if it was trimmed.

Untrimmed I was more likely to be read as a big dumb monkey and even a potential threat, say, walking into a store, or meeting new people out at a bar. Trimmed it was a lot less of that and people were in general more like to engage my intelligence and think I was less threatening or more cultured? I experienced a lot less posturing, guarding or microagression type stuff from men in particular - less chest thumping and bumping.

Of course I'm not saying this is right or arguing anyone should trim there hair to actually be more cultured, just observing the weird shit that goes on with how people see each other.

Anyway, does anyone have a spare medical laser? I'm probably capable of building my own or repairing one. Kind of not kidding, here! :)
posted by loquacious at 10:47 AM on June 25 [15 favorites]


This is one of those things that has always been so fraught for me. I guess I feel like one can say "screw you" to the body police on one or two axes, but once your gender nonconformities/nonperformities reaches the point that you're no longer signaling femaleness at all...it becomes such a lot to truly feel comfortable and self-accepting about. Like, it's cool now to not shave (which is not the same thing as actually BEING HIRSUTE) if you're young/thin/stylish, or you can be a fat woman if you're femme/wear makeup/shave...sorry if I'm stepping on anyone's toes with my fat hobbit feet.
posted by drlith at 11:24 AM on June 25 [16 favorites]


drlith, I think you've said something very important, very well. I was just asking my partner the other day: what happens to my identity as a woman if I consistently am ID'ed by others as "not woman"? In my dream world, my self-identification "wins," but I do know that we are in that world. I find myself dressing in much more femme ways (when I can) to offset how hairy I am. In some ways, it would be easier to shave. This why I think the "personal choice" narrative is a bit fraught/misguided. Yes, I support "personal choice," especially if the alternative is mandated shave or unshave for all. But it's not a consequence-free choice and because our bodies differer the consequences differ to. What does it mean to support others right to choose how to present their body hair in a world where some women might meet violent resistance to exercising their choice?

I may not be saying this very well. Perhaps others with similar thoughts could add more?
posted by CMcG at 12:24 PM on June 25 [6 favorites]


I didn't shave my legs all winter and it was really nice. I thought really hard about continuing in the summer but I'm too much of a wuss. Nobody even said anything to me but I caught a few side-eyes once I was at maximum leg hair length (which is actually quite long and even after months, still stuck straight out) and I was starting to feel incredibly self-conscious about it all the time. I see all the people here/online who don't shave and it sounds so easy but I've honestly never seen more than a few days worth of leg stubble in real life, and it's just too much for my social anxiety to handle worrying about it all the time. I'm not really cool enough to pull off that kind of big statement. Maybe someday I'll try again when I can figure out how to give fewer fucks. I hear I'll become invisible in a decade or so, so that might help.
posted by randomnity at 12:28 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


I find it so interesting (and unspeakably depressing) that removing one's body hair is still, in 2019, seen as so utterly inextricable from femaleness. We MUST take a stand on it one way or the other, specifically prohibited as we are from JUST BEING because JUST BEING is viewed as a political/social/aesthetic/identity-related act. (No such thing as an unmarked woman, etc.)

Plucking, shaving, waxing, minimizing, invisibilizing, denying outright - all are seen as ways to increase one's proximity to and association with femaleness, to the point that women are made to feel like we are literally *less female* if we refrain from engaging with the practice by - gasp! - *not doing anything*. Forever bonsai'd, no escape. Hurts my soul!
posted by obstinate harpy at 12:57 PM on June 25 [14 favorites]


obstinate harpy, good point.

"Maleness" is to exist in the default state. "Femaleness" is not. The crazy comment quoted above of some brit saying body hair on a woman is just "not natural". That tumblr thread about the minimum amount of makeup required to leave the house (every time people tried to say "none", there was someone asserting that you "just" need lipstick and bb cream and some mascara and maybe some cover-up oh and a little bit of blush...).

anyway, i've been slowly pushing my boundaries on this. haven't been able to stop completely, but have been trying to shave less frequently.

(one day I was waxing my eyebrows and my 2yo daughter asked me what I was doing. How I hated the message I was sending her. How thoroughly we are taught to hate our bodies as they are...)
posted by Cozybee at 1:03 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


what happens to my identity as a woman if I consistently am ID'ed by others as "not woman"

As a trans and gendernonconforming genderqueer person, welcome to my world. I have never been correctly gendered by strangers and am always considering what particular gendered messages my shaving or not shaving particular parts of my body are sending. It's not the choice of shaving or not that needs to be called into question, but societal perceptions of what body hair--on any part of people of any gender--means.
posted by carrioncomfort at 1:17 PM on June 25 [10 favorites]


I always have trouble with articles like this because they are so focused on typically-feminine cis straight women who have suddenly discovered something like short hair or sensible shoes or not shaving and treat it like they just magically invented it, when in fact it's literally something that lesbians have done and been negatively stereotyped over for years.
posted by bile and syntax at 1:20 PM on June 25 [15 favorites]


when in fact it's literally something that lesbians have done and been negatively stereotyped over for years

And god forbid if a trans lesbian actually tries to talk about being attracted to it.
posted by nikaspark at 1:27 PM on June 25 [13 favorites]


Yes, absolutely. I know this is even more difficult for trans women on every level than it is for cis women and there's even more pressure to perform a certain kind of femininity absolutely perfectly.
posted by bile and syntax at 1:56 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


Everyone has preferences and I think it's silly to deny that, but when people use words like "disgusting" I really don't know what to think. So very odd.
posted by bongo_x at 2:50 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


I always have trouble with articles like this because they are so focused on typically-feminine cis straight women who have suddenly discovered something like short hair or sensible shoes or not shaving and treat it like they just magically invented it

I agree that it's annoying & problematic when a reporter completely erases a marginalized group's history with something (like, decades ago) & credits its discovery to a less marginalized group (last Tuesday at brunch, ScarJo was there, it was incredible).

That being said, I'm always happy when cis straight traditionally femme women realize that an act of beauty labor they've been forcing on themselves / helping to enforce as socially mandated is actually just some arbitrary bullshit that should be completely optional for everyone. I feel like the more shit like that they realize, the freer we all are to just leave the dang house looking like we look without getting sideeye about it.

For some reason the body hair stigma has been harder for me to get over & felt more shameful than other beauty mandates. I've been leaving the house in weird outfits since my teens, deliberately adopting queer/butch signifiers since my early 20s, but it's only been since my mid-30s that I've felt like I really don't give a fuck about going into society with visible armpit hair, & I still feel self-conscious going out with leg hair.

(I prefer the way my legs feel when they're freshly razor-shaved, but often can't spare the executive function required to keep them that way, & am SUPER resentful that society expects us to.)
posted by taquito sunrise at 2:51 PM on June 25 [5 favorites]


I remove a lot of hair. It lessens my dysphoria. There are only a few steps i can take right now, and this is one, so I'm sure as heck going to do it.

But body hair? Who gives a fuck? I mean, i have ingrained ideas of what is feminine and what is not, drilled into me by culture. But why should those matter to anyone else?

For that matter, why should any expression of bodily autonomy matter or be gatekept, explicitly or by social pressure? What a fucked up situation it is that we conditionalize our willingness to identify with others or include them in our social groups based on unexamined garbage in our own heads.

On an unrelated note, and as a clear sign of how absolutely arbitrary this stuff is, body hair (on myself) bothers me. But a coat of short, soft fur? Wouldn't bother me at all. There's something about the coarse and sparse nature of my body hair that really distresses me.
posted by allium cepa at 3:20 PM on June 25 [7 favorites]


FWIW It's worth I'm about *this close* to buying a Panasonic wet/dry razor (harkening to Loquacious' comment) this afternoon cause damn I'm tired of shaving my face with a razor everyday. Face hair dysphoria just slays my shit in a awful way.

I've learned how to live with armpit hair, thankfully my leg hair is enjoyable to me and my little boob hairs are just cute as hell.
posted by nikaspark at 3:32 PM on June 25 [5 favorites]


FWIW It's worth I'm about *this close* to buying a Panasonic wet/dry razor (harkening to Loquacious' comment) this afternoon cause damn I'm tired of shaving my face with a razor everyday. Face hair dysphoria just slays my shit in a awful way.

*runs off to find a BOGO coupon, fails*
posted by loquacious at 4:01 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


carrioncomfort, yes totally. I also have a long history of being misgendered. Deciding not to shave anymore this year is the first step I've taken towards that perception of me in a very long time (short haired person is another one, I suppose). It's just weird for me because I strongly identify as a woman, but I think a lot of my stylistic choices reinforce other's notion that that I am something else.

I think I may have stuck my foot in my mouth with my earlier comment and I hope this one doesn't compound the issue; I will do some more reading and listening on my own to try to understand more and to take care to be respectful of others' perspectives. Thank you for your response.
posted by CMcG at 4:43 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


As I have aged, I have more hair on my face and a LOT less in my armpits and on my legs. I mean next to nothing. It's weird. But I like the feeling of shaved legs, so I keep doing it even though there doesn't seem to be much there to shave.
posted by Peach at 5:28 PM on June 25


Once I stopped having sex (or any intimate relations), I found the freedom of not shaving.

My last relationship had me in such a state of constant anxiety that I would run home from work, shower/shave, even if we were just meeting for a quick drink. Because just in case, y'know? Didn't want to be caught dead with razor stubble (remember those stupid 70s commercials?).

One of my favorite movie lines is from Rosie O'Donnell in "Beautiful Girls" when she goes on the rant about the imaginary perfect woman. "Pubic hair being so unruly and all". That whole dialogue, in fact.

I spent decades buying into it. And now I don't.
posted by sundrop at 7:29 PM on June 25


Well, in true problematic fashion I have, as a direct result of this thread, acquired a wet dry electric shaver after many years of laser and electrolysis and shaving with a Gillette Mach 5 and I am looking forward to shaving my face in the morning with my new technological geegaw that has been absolutely designed for and marketed to men. All this whilst also maintaining my absolutely sexy as fuck hairy armpits.

Happy Pride y’all.
posted by nikaspark at 10:45 PM on June 25 [6 favorites]


As a self conscious 13 year old, I shaved my pits once. The tenderness of raw scraped skin and the itchy prickliness as the hairs grew out convinced me that shaving had no place in my life.

Never got into shaving my legs either. When I got my first job at 16 I was already an unapologetic nonshaver. My manager at the retail store told me I must wear pantyhose during an inspection by the district manager so he wouldn't be disgusted by my hairy legs. I flat out refused and he threatened to fire me. I compromised by wearing knee socks for that one day.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 10:55 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


But body hair? Who gives a fuck? I mean, i have ingrained ideas of what is feminine and what is not, drilled into me by culture. But why should those matter to anyone else?

I know some of it was drilled into me by culture. But even in my eggy days, I'd shave, which I recall raised a few eyebrows, out of pure comfort, out of how nice and clean I felt. I still find myself hating the amount of body hair I have, and it's much reduced thanks to e and lasers from what it used to be; I always hated the fact, though, that I was still one of the most hirsute Koreans I'd ever known.

I'm glad others are comfortable with their body hair. I still don't have a great picture of how body hair affects how well I pass (which I know is a problematic goal, but one I can't seem to shake), but not having facial hair and regularly keeping the pit hair out makes me feel like it might help.
posted by anem0ne at 11:45 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


Oh, I won't pretend that my brain doesn't have "hairless" = "girl" carved into some dark corner.

But while I'm ok letting it apply to me, i refuse to allow it to drive my reactions to other people. Bodily autonomy is very important to me.

And i wouldn't pass shaved or not, but I'm not on HRT. This is just about tempering ever so slightly the shouting in my head. Smooth, i can almost sometimes look at myself and actually see my body. It's not pleasant. But it's there.

Few conflicts in the world seem more obviously pointless and malicious than attempts to police other people's bodies.
posted by allium cepa at 12:27 AM on June 26 [2 favorites]


Any other Gen-X remember that during the Cold War that there was sort of a 'Bloc country women don't shave their armpits, those dirty commies' vibe? Like it was somehow unpatriotic not to for American women?
posted by fluttering hellfire at 5:13 AM on June 26 [5 favorites]


A few years ago I got a Braun Silk Epil 9 as part of a quest to find a way to remove hair that doesn't result in torture-worthy levels of itching once the regrowth starts. Turns out, I had about as much luck with the microtweezing as any other method, but it comes with a shaving head that cuts the hair just a micrometer above the skin, which is enough for my skin not to throw a fit and demand to be torn off entirely. So now I have an overpriced wet-dry shaver, but at least it has an extra light that illuminates the stubble to be cut, and enough juice for over a week's daily trims at one charge.

(Don't get me started on hair stigma here, not worth my emotional upheaval as someone who regularly gets misgendered already.)
posted by I claim sanctuary at 5:32 AM on June 26 [3 favorites]


The gender essentialism around body hair is definitely A Thing in my own body and perception of it. I'm not trans, but I've had a fair amount of dysmorphic feelings over my life, and I am now tentatively experimenting with a nonbinary appearance. Except my body is hugely, unredeemably, male: vast swaths of dark, swarthy body hair from my neck to my toes, a bulky, blocky build, and premature balding to boost. So while I would love to be androgynous, even sometimes, I simply cannot see how to present myself as anything other than a funny hairy little guy, albeit one who is starting to wear nail polish and more colorful and androgynous clothing. But I don't want to shave, because body positivity. This is the one that I've got, even if I very much wish I could exchange it at least sometimes. In conclusion, my gender identify is a land of contrasts, and body hair.
posted by skookumsaurus rex at 6:01 AM on June 26 [7 favorites]


Oh, and the itching. I tried, some years ago, to see if I would look svelte if I shaved off all my body hair. I did, I did not look like what I thought I would, and I had what seemed like months of itching, rashes and ingrown hairs to contend with. Ugh.
posted by skookumsaurus rex at 6:11 AM on June 26 [4 favorites]


taquito sunrise, I totally hear you and you're not wrong, but for me and a lot of other dykes this is also the loss of essentially a lesbian batsignal. Previously I could assume that another woman out in public who obviously didn't shave or who complimented me on not shaving was another queer woman and thus safe to chat with, and now that's changed.

I guess I just wish cis straight women were as quick to become serious allies as they are to pick up on queer fashion.
posted by bile and syntax at 7:04 AM on June 26 [6 favorites]


I've got the typical Eastern European ancestry thing going on, so lots of thick dark hair. And somehow the hair is thick enough and my skin is sensitive enough that the old nair formula would somehow irritate and burn my skin but still keep my leg hair intact. I did home waxing for a while and that worked much better, but it took forever. And I've used 2-3 disposable razors on one pass before, usually after shaving for the first time in months.

Nowadays, shaving legs is reserved for special occasions like weddings - where I figure I'm adhering to someone else's idea of femininity anyway by dressing formal. Pit hair gets shorter in the summer, but still exists.

Also, the first time I tried to shave my legs, I shaved down. Still have the scar from it!

The unladylike podcast was interesting, especially the first episode - I remember those preteen conversations about shaving. Most of them revolved around who could 'get away' with not shaving with different combinations of background and skin color creating a different calculus as to how much they had to shave and when. We all definitely knew there was a specific amount that we 'should' shave, though - even if it was different for each person.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:17 AM on June 26 [3 favorites]


Also distinctly remember the time in high school when a male swimmer came up to me and was like 'w h a t t h e h e l l' after his first experience shaving.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:22 AM on June 26 [3 favorites]


I don’t have much to say about my own relationship to my hair, but I’m grateful for the “yeah I get misgendered too if I don’t do [this thing that’s more stereotypically gender-conforming than I’d prefer]” comments in this thread. They were really sane-making to read.

Honestly, sometimes being trans feels like a decades-long game of “I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t),” in a good(?) way.
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 8:00 AM on June 26 [3 favorites]


Speaking of saying "fuck you" to the style police, let's all take a moment and appreciate the singer Tanerélle for not being afraid to show off the natural look of her breasts at the BET Awards. I am living for her don't give a fuck attitude in this story.
posted by zeusianfog at 10:01 AM on June 26 [9 favorites]


“I see all the people here/online who don't shave and it sounds so easy but I've honestly never seen more than a few days worth of leg stubble in real life, and it's just too much for my social anxiety to handle worrying about it all the time.”

This is why I wear sundresses and shorts. I want people to see someone who appears to be a woman rocking their bushy bushy peg hairs. I’m no dainty “the hairs are sparse and pale”. I’m lush and curly and unshaven for years. I’ve had so many friends tell me that I had given them the confidence to shave less often or wear shorts again. And I so desperately want little girls and little boys to see a human like me existing in the world.
posted by stoneweaver at 4:56 PM on June 26 [10 favorites]


There's a woman in my choir who has a "Shaggy" style goatee in black hair, totally natural, and she rocks it. Totally rocks it.
It's just genetic for her. And she DGAF anymore what anyone thinks.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:45 PM on June 26


I don’t have much to say about my own relationship to my hair, but I’m grateful for the “yeah I get misgendered too if I don’t do [this thing that’s more stereotypically gender-conforming than I’d prefer]” comments in this thread.

Again, UGH on the gender police. I'm AFAB, but tall and broad-shouldered and assertive, and I can get misgendered - mostly by other women, often shop attendants - in a dress showing off E-cup boobs. Anyone who doesn't fit into this very narrow small-white-quiet mold gets the brunt of it, and there's a hell of a lot of us. I'm so grateful to brave trans people who start the discussions about what elements of this social prison are actually necessary to identify as a woman. Body hair might actually be one of the more complicated parts, because of how tied its expression is to both genetics and testosterone levels. (I started treated my too-high testosterone nearly two years ago and I may be able to lay off shaving my forearms soon.)
posted by I claim sanctuary at 6:29 AM on June 27 [2 favorites]


Kitten pits!!!!! Could I love y’all any more? I don’t think so. I really don’t.
posted by eggkeeper at 3:11 PM on June 27 [3 favorites]


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