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!
I had my legs waxed last week. My 4yo son announced afterwards that my legs had been fixed. He didn’t mean anything by that particularly. He had a feel before and after, to compare. He was curious, and I like that he was happy to touch the hair without judging, or feeling repulsed as I suspect many adults would be. I’m often shamelessly hairy. I will go to the swimming pool in the middle of winter and strut around with hairy legs and bikini line. I don’t think my hair makes me less feminine (well, maybe my toes). It’s mostly just a sign of my laziness, and of how laid back I am.
I find this a tough one too. I’m currently trying to grow the confidence to not shave all the time. Currently I go long spells without doing it but I feel less attractive when I don’t if I had those body parts exposed. I would feel self conscious because that’s not what’s beautiful or even acceptable in our society. So really it’s not a choice for me as that conditioning goes deep. I’m even more mindful of this now I have a daughter as whilst I want my son to not give a shit about women having their natural hair, I don’t want my daughter’s first thoughts on growing hair to be shame and how to get rid of it. I’m trying to move to stopping altogether but it’s hard. I’m taking baby steps and Punky Moms is helping me grow my confidence.
This is really interesting and something that I have thought about a lot as I am the only woman in a house of men! I have something of a strange body – as I had a double mastectomy and detailed reconstruction, so do not present a typical female body to my lads anyway. I also had to have my ovaries and tubes removed, so they have never experienced me having periods, although we have discussed menstruation. So I do think we are a typical example.
Personally, I shave in front of them. They know that I remove hair from my armpits regularly, but my legs less so – I am a hairy monster during the winters thanks to 60 denier tights! I want to break down barriers and not give them the impression that women come hair free. This is an image that they will see all too soon and often when they are introduced to porn. I want to normalise regular women’s bodies warts and all.
Great topic! I would just say something like, ‘mummy likes to shave her legs, but some people choose to keep their hair there, and that’s ok, too,’ and leave it at that. To a 3 year old, it’s probably no different to seeing daddy trim his beard or clean shave, you know? As my children become older (I have a 3 year old son and a 1 year old daughter) the dialogue will change, and venture more into societal pressures, beauty standards and feminism.
Oh how I remember the days of fake eyelashes, and hair extensions! What a complete ball ache. I used to wear them on nights out so I felt more confident and well, because everyone else did and I guess I was a bit of a sheep. I’m sob glad I ditched all of that! I do occasionally wear the eye lashes but that’s a choice for me as I love them looking longer (and I look less tired).
I’ve never stopped shaving, I’ve become more relaxed about it and if I can’t be bothered I can’t be bothered and it’s the same with my husband. Some times he has stubble other times he’s clean shaven. Whilst I don’t like the stubble it’s his face and his choice. I’m sure he feels the same when I’ve not shaved my legs! I’ve done it for so long I don’t even know why I started, probably because I saw my mum do it and it is ‘what women are supposed to do’ and now I like the feeing.
My son has seen both me and my husband shave and ask why we do it and we’ve replied that it’s something that we want to do and left it at that. He’s not really phased yet but I’m sure as he gets older it will come up again but one thing is for sure they will not be made to feel like they have to do it from me. Unfortunately I do think that peer pressure will play a massive part in things like this.
I prefer to be clean shaven . . . I also know that during those times when I don’t shave, I retain a lot more body odor/scent, regardless of soap and deodorant. That in itself may be another cultural/religious thing… being an Irish-Catholic, the message was to keep the body clean in ALL ways
I personally don’t mind when my wife gets some fuzz because she’s too busy taking care of the family to be bothered by shaving. However, she prefers to keep it clean so the least I can do is make sure she gets an hour or two to get all that stuff done.
I am pretty keen that I do my hair removal in private. I have two boys and I don’t shave in front of them. I don’t want them to think about that but I think I’ve been wrong. It is exactly like their dad. He shaves, I shave, we do it because we want to.
Thanks for the lightning bolt moment.
Not waxing in front of them yet though…
Lovely story! Toddlers tend to be really curious about everything. They asks questions about the smallest things that they see. Removing body hair is a personal preference and its all up to you to do so. I think we just have to explain well to our kids. Waiting for your future articles.