Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hairy Maclary

I'm one of THOSE "dirty hippies". One of those women who chooses not to shave her body hair. Au naturale if you like.


When I was pregnant with Willow I got to the big round belly part of the pregnancy and I just couldn't reach my legs anymore. It was winter so I thought society could cut a woman a break if I wore long pants. After my babe was earthside and I could touch my toes again I started thinking about just why it was that I needed to shave my legs anyway. It was a part of my "maintenance" that I had hated for years. Apart from the societal pressure to have smooth legs it just seemed silly to me. So I stopped.

I got a few negative comments initially from a few places. It felt brave and kind of radical to fly in the face of the beauty ideals I had followed for so long. Then it became no big deal. It is just hair after all.

A couple of years later myself with my hairy legs and smooth armpits were having a deep and meaningful chat with some other women. Some of whom chose to forgo shaving all together. One of them bought up the fact that she went through puberty-why should she continue to pretend to be a girl when she was a woman?

It really got me thinking.

She was so right. The cleanliness factor is such a crock. If men are not filthy for having underarm hair then why are women? What of soap and deodorant? Why was I continuing to remove hair that I really didn't have a problem with? It suddenly felt important to me for my daughters to know that their post pubescent bodies were not dirty or ugly and that they didn't need to remain looking like a child after they became an adult.

So I stopped shaving all together.

And of course I have had some delightful comments, but they are few and far between. The first time I went out, all dressed up, in a sleeveless dress I felt very self conscious, but now I barely even think about it. I have given birth to three children so it might not come as a shock to you that I have gone through puberty and the hair just comes with the territory.

But now it's no big deal. It's just hair after all.


skyelee said...

Good on you Shae, I'm a bit of a Hairy Maclary myself - not as brave as you, but really don't bother unless I am getting glammed up to go somewhere. :-)

Rachael said...

Yes of course, it's just hair!

What I am interested in though is what do you say to it as just another part of 'fitting in' rather than trying to look like a pre pubescent?

Is removal of hair any different than other things we may do because it makes us feel more comfortable resembling the 'norm' as set by our peers?

I'm just pondering these things as I know I would stand out like a sore thumb with my hairy legs where I live...and I wonder if shaving my legs to be like everyone else is any different to the myriad other things we do...

Deborah said...

I totally agree with the principal of hairy (and everything you wrote) but for some reason I feel so much fresher when I shave. Not sure what has conditioned me to feel that way... Having said that, I only shave like 3 times a year! LOL... and as for the other hair - that is where I totally don't get brazilians (no offence to anyone) - but for me it makes me feel like society/men want their women to look pre-pubescent... there's something almost creepy (almost pedophiliac) about it. I guess that's kind of what you're saying here about our legs and underarms too? Hmm... I must think some more about it. Perhaps they fit into the same category as how I feel about yoni hair. Thanks for the hairy thoughts!

Veronica said...

I swing both ways on the hair issue really. I'll go months without shaving anything and then decide that I want to, just for me. It doesn't appear to bother Nathan either way (and god help him if he said it did) so if I'm feeling like not shaving, I won't. Vice versa.

Of course, I don't go out bare legged anyway, due to a delightful rash on the backs on my legs, complete with stretch marks and scars from torn skin, but that's my own issue with my legs and not due to hair.

Veronica said...

Also, that comment sounded more curt than it was meant to. Sorry. You know what I meant I hope. Hair = just hair. We've all got it.

Tricia said...

Well said! I rarely shave, but do feel the pressure to. I don't (yet)have the confidence you do. That comment 'she went through puberty-why should she continue to pretend to be a girl when she was a woman' really got me thinking. Lightbulb moment. I've never given it much thought. It is absolutely rediculous the way we fight against our hair?!

shae said...

I totally agree with the fitting in as well rach and do plenty of things to fit in.
I guess for me I really want my girls to know that their bodies are not dirty or disgusting.

Kathy said...

I still do my underarms sporadically, which are the only part of me that grows hair that has ever been depiliated except for surgical purposes :-) I don't do anything to legs, arms, eyebrows, ladygarden etc. Not really sure why I do the underarms - I have the illusion that I smell better with them done, but I think that's probably not true at all, just a habit thing.

To be honest, I never started shaving or waxing because I couldn't see the point even as a teenager. My Mum never did, and I thought she looked beautiful, so it didn't seem important.

Granted, like all the women in my family, I have fair and scanty hair coverage on my legs and arms naturally, but I do have lovely beetle-brows (as one manicurist helpfully informed me!) and I just think, whatevs.

Julie said...

I absolutely love this post. Of course, the whole hair removal thing is completely cultural. There are some parts of the world where women don't ever remove hair. (At least, I think there still are - I hope American culture has not penetrated the whole universe yet!)

I tend to have my legs waxed, and, while I do go far too long between waxes, I, like Deborah, do feel fresher and more confident after a wax. I'm a total product of our society.

Paige said...

I love this! What kills me is the women who shave all their pubic hair off. What's even creepier is the men who find it attractive, there is something seriously wrong there! We are women not little girls!!!

Miss Mandy said...

I'm impressed by your ability to do what makes you happy. I've something to learn about that. But on the hairy front. I'm way to lazy to not have hairy legs. My maintenance is very ad-hoc, but that suits me just fine.

Rachael said...

Ha! I must have missed the memo that it was supposed to be dirty...although I do know many people deem it less than attractive - and that's more a cultural thing.

To me the hair thing is more about beauty as a construct in our society and how narrow the 'ideal' of beauty has become.

All one needs to do to prove it is artifice is to go to another country with a completely different culture.

Anyway I'm totally with you re: letting your girls know it's ok to be hairy. I'm actually quite uncomfortable with my girls seeing me doing any primping and preening given that it further gives the idea that what is valued above all else is our appearance. Fortunately I've never been a big primp or preener in any case.

Sam-O said...

I am the hairy beast daughter of a hairy beast Dad.

I started waxing at 14. It is expensive and relentless. If I get it all done its from the eyebrows down, including full arms, fingers, toes, my back and chest as well as the bits, normal people get done.

I kept it up after baby 1 (in fact my water broke between belly wax and my legs) but once baby 2 arrived, I was OVER it. No time, no inclination. I sometimes feel self concious at swimming lessons when it includes a Dad or a Manny. but mostly it's fine.

My hairy hands are worrying me a bit at the moment though...

Louisa said...

I love how your posts make me think Shae! I've waxed for over 10 years and so I hardly grow any leg hair anymore and I do like it that way. As for underarms, I feel horrible when I don't wax - sticky and uncomfortable.

•´.¸¸.•¨¯`♥.Trish.♥´¯¨•.¸¸.´• said...

Very thought provoking Shae.Honest.Hair is hair or really it's your stuffing falling out.
I tend to agree with you, I only shave my legs because it is the cultural norm ...I rarely do it for 8 months of the year (wear pants).
I get itchy underarms once my hair gets an inch long though or so.Plus I find it sticky in summer - I might was 2-3 times a year.
I hardly wear sleeveless clothes anyway for other reasons.

Christie said...

This is my first visit to your blog and I love this article. You are indeed very brave, and also very forward thinking. I don't feel that I grew up to believe that my body was dirty/ugly because of the hair, but I certainly grew up believing I should follow conventional thought and go along with what my peers were doing. I've not been brave enough yet to do a Summer with hairy arms and legs, though I enjoy the freedom all through Winter! Maybe this year will be the year. Thanks for getting me thinking.

Sarah M. said...

I love this post. I will admit that I shave every other day. I'm not sure where it comes from, but I have a huge aversion to my own body hair. It got to the point of having my partner shave my legs for me when I was pregnant. I've thought a few times about trying to overcome this "issue" but it really doesn't have a big enough impact on my life for me to care.

I love it when women don't shave though. I have thought a billion times about how we try to make ourselves look like children and it's a bit creepy.

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