Every single time I step in the shower, there is only one question that comes to mind: “Should I shave today?”
Showering is no longer a relaxing end to a long day, but an anxiety filled tactical procedure. First step, check the weather. Is it too cold for shorts? Too hot for pants? Do I want to wear a tank top? Second, what am I doing tomorrow? Am I working out? Does any activity tomorrow involve revealing my legs or armpits? A nonchalant act has become something women must constantly think about, keeping women suppressed without even realizing it. If you have to think twice about something like showering, there is definitely something awry about our society.
We are so used to shaving our bodies that it has become a natural feature of being a woman. It is normal to remove the natural biological hair that grows on our skin, right? We hold ourselves to this societal expectation because the process has been, and continues to be, reinforced over years and years of pressure. Girls are told high school means it is time to start shaving your legs, and that it’s it is just a part of growing up. You will never see a woman in a movie, commercial, on television, or on the red carpet unshaven. Even in survival and disaster type shows and films like “Lost” and “The Hunger Games” women somehow find the time and need to shave. Realistically would they even have access to shaving supplies? And if they did, is shaving absolutely necessary for them to survive when they have more important things to be worrying about?
Because women continue to shave, the cycle persists. All we ever see are other women with shaved legs and armpits, so we believe this is what is beautiful and natural. Men might say they prefer women who shave, but is this because that is all they know from society? Hair removal is a western creation. The reason women started shaving was because society told us it was the feminine thing to do. However, other cultures see body hair on women as beautiful. Beauty is truly subjective.
Shaving companies are the main beneficiaries of our societal expectation. They make profit every year because of our compliance with shaving. We put up with the ridiculous prices of razors because we are desperate to be hair free. There is even a whole business today dedicated to laser hair removal and waxing, and it is not cheap. Women would rather go through tremendous pain and spend thousands of dollars than suffer the consequences of having hair. And nothing is off limits. We wax everything: arms, legs, vagina, armpits, and faces. We continue to reinforce the unnatural process of hair removal as an innate part of being a woman.
However, I do not mean to shame women who prefer to be hair free. I ask many of my friends why they shave, and the most popular answer tends to be “because I like the way it feels and looks.” Women have every right to shave if that is what they like, but what I hope to shed light on is that we need to stop stigmatizing women who choose not to. While I myself like the way shaving feels and looks, I can’t help but ask, is this because I have become conditioned by the repetitive act of shaving my whole life that I am now used to smooth skin? Would I like the way it feels and looks if I never had to shave in the first place?
My challenge to women is to choose a period of time to not shave and see how long you can go, it is winter after all. You will be surprised how much time you save, and how much more you actually enjoy showering. It might be hard at first to fight the urge, but the longer you don’t shave, the more normal it will become. Not only will you be fighting the patriarchy, but you will also become more comfortable and accepting of your own natural body.