Whether you remove your body hair or you don’t is up to you. I don’t mind if you leave it, shave it, wax it, pluck it or veet it. I don’t care if you only shave during the summer, you never shave at all or you haven’t shaved since your wedding night. It’s cool with me if your pits are naked, a little fluffy or covered in bright green body hair. It’s up to you if your legs are silky smooth, totally natural or shaved into chevrons or stripes. If you’re sporting a 70s bush or a Brazilian strip, it really doesn’t bother me in the slightest. You do you.
Having said that, here are some thoughts I do have about body hair.
I used to be really high maintenance. I used to be the girl with the fake nails, fake tan, false lashes, hair extensions, perfectly plucked eyebrows and a Hollywood wax (google it). Honestly a lot of the time I miss being that girl, but just the thought of it makes me tired. These days I choose sleep over basically anything. However, I do still shave my legs.
I shave them for me, mostly because I quite like that feeling of silky smooth legs as you slide into bed at night. My boyfriend will be the first to tell you that I don’t shave them if I don’t have time or can’t be arsed, and his opinion on that is pretty irrelevant to me. Basically I shave them when I can be bothered, on my own terms, and usually afterwards I spend some time swinging my shiny legs around imagining I’m in a Gillette Venus advert.
What I don’t do however, what I really can’t bring myself to do and what makes me feel really uncomfortable, is shave my legs in front of my son.
If you don’t know already, my son is three. We bath together most nights because a) who has time to wash otherwise, b) I’ll get so wet from the other side of the tub I may as well get in with him and c) because it’s fun. I’m pretty open with him about most things; he knows the proper vocabulary for male and female body parts and we’ve even had a few conversations about periods. I’ve got no issue with communicating with him about difficult topics.
One day a while ago, we were in the bath together and I absentmindedly grabbed my razor to shave my legs. Obviously the natural thing for a three year old to do is ask “what are you doing?”, and I casually answered him, “shaving my legs.”
I don’t know why I hadn’t seen it coming. And as much as I stumbled around for an answer I couldn’t really form a convincing one. The answer, like I said earlier, is mostly because I like pretending I’m one of those girls in the ads, but do I want to give my son the impression that women ‘have to’ or ‘should’ shave their legs to be feminine, pretty or sexy? That body hair should be a source of embarrassment or shame that we remove at first sight? Absolutely not.
It’s my choice to remove my leg hair, and it’s a choice I strongly believe men and women should make on their own – minus pressure from society, the beauty industry, friends or partners. Because *news flash* adults do actually have body hair, and removing it is a bit of a ball ache so I fully support anyone who chooses not to.
Our children are such little sponges, and they soak up way more than just what we say. I don’t want to raise my son with even an inkling of this weird beauty standard that has become commonplace in society. I’m a little annoyed at myself for falling for it to be honest. This whole ‘women are supposed to be soft and smooth all over, like little prepubescent barbie dolls, except with bigger boobs’. Eye roll.
Shaving my legs in front of my son just feels too much like reinforcing this beauty ideal to me. It feels like it’s quite loudly saying women must not have leg hair, even if my mouth is saying something else.
Equally though, doing it in secret feels like I’m creating more of a taboo or adding more shame to the whole topic, so I’m not really sure how best to handle it as he gets older. I think eventually I’ll tackle it in the same way we discuss make up – that it’s something people can use and have fun with if they choose to, and not something people need to look prettier or more beautiful. For now though I’d just rather he sees body hair as a thing adults have, and not associate it with femininity or lack thereof.
What are your thoughts on body hair and femininity? Is it something you’ve discussed with your children? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to get some more opinions on it!