About 8 months ago I have decided to stop shaving. It’s not about “sticking it to the man” or being provocative (in fact I prefer blending in to standing out), but rather a fully personal exercise in self-acceptance. When I think of myself in the future, I like to envision a wise, self-confident and peaceful older woman with gray hair. For now this is my goal. And for me, a person who has faith in their internal force is someone who recognizes fully own personal desires and has courage to act upon them despite external pressures.
As most women in Western world, I’ve shaved since I was 14 or 15 years old. But I’ve always absolutely hated it and everything that it entails: ingrown hair, bleeding, irritation, itchiness and etc. And lets not talk about waxing, that I never did get used to. Alas, all women around me were hair-less and I felt ashamed for wanting to stay hairy, so I manned up and shaved away. At one point I shaved my armpits every day and my legs every other day. But then kids came, and I had less time to spend on personal grooming, which meant shaving regularly only during the warmer season.
Then last summer we hosted an all-girl music group for 4 days. I wrote about them last year as they have really left a trace in my heart. I called them “Enchantresses” because that’s the nickname my children gave them. And there was definitely an aura of magic around them tickling the senses of all those who met them. They were not perfect, far from it, but they knew what they wanted and were not ashamed of their philosophy, their dreams, their desires. And their complete acceptance of self and of their chosen life style made them beautiful and incredible.
They were also completely unshaven, unplucked and unwaxed. But the extra hair did not take away from their charm, on the contrary, it only added to it. When they were staying with us, I kept regretting that today’s little girls don’t have such natural role models in their lives, that their world was filled with unnatural, skinny, make-up’ed “princesses” trying to seduce their “princes”. I saw my little toddler swirl around the girls when they played on the streets of our town or squat next to them as if she was one of the group, and I wished internally that they could stay so she could aspire to them rather than to semi-naked stick figures with boobs that are pictured on every other street corner.
That’s when it dawned on me, as a mother I am my daughter’s number one role model. I don’t play music on the street, I haven’t even played music at home for years! But nothing is stopping me from being an “Enchantress”, from knowing myself and my desires, from spreading my roots deep into soil so no wind can break me. So I stopped shaving, not because they didn’t shave but because they showed me that it’s not necessary to suffer to be beautiful, on the contrary, we are most beautiful when we are at peace with ourselves. And that’s what I want to transmit to my children, especially to my daughter who will inevitably come in contact with outside pressure to look, talk and act in a certain way.
The winter months were easy, because everything is covered from the outside world. My only witnesses were my children and my husband. My children obviously didn’t care, though my son did ask once: “Mama, why do you have hair on your legs?” I answered that it was a normal thing for adults to have leg hair and that if they didn’t, it’s because they shaved it off. I felt delighted by his question and my answer. I felt like I have shown him with this simple exchange that we need to stay true to ourselves even when it comes to such minor things as hair removal.
As for my husband, I decided to avoid discussion by precaution as I didn’t want to debate on the topic (though I really don’t know if he would have debated with me or not). He hasn’t made any comment (probably for similar reasons). Even during our fights, when suppressed criticism easily rolls off the tongue, no comment was made. I decided to take it as a good sign that he really couldn’t care less and that he loves me as I am with my unshaven hair and all. Of course I have noticed him glancing at me with curiosity a few times, but it has quickly passed.
Now though that spring has reared its head, it’s been a bit more difficult. I’ve even considered shaving it all off once again so I can blend back into the crowd, but the prospect of razor cuts and irritation has convinced me to give myself some time to ease into my new hairy body. I’ve walked around in sleeve-less shirts, but I still keep my pants long. Today was the first day that I wore shorter pants with sandals that showed off my ankles. It felt funny to feel the wind tickle my leg hair. I’ve also got a few stares, but mostly no one noticed and everyone stayed polite.
Next step, going to the beach or the pool? The kids have been asking me… I have to remind myself that the goal of this experiment is not to hide from the outside world, but on the contrary, brave it with all of its preconceived notions and stay unphased like a redwood tree in a storm.
In the mean time, here’s an interesting article on female hair removal from a historical point of view.