The issue of hair removal for women is a touchy issue. Men have it easy, they can choose to grow facial hair, or not. They can choose to get manscaping done, but it is by no means a requirement. Having more hair does not make a man less masculine, in fact the opposite is true.
For women the issue is a bit more prickly (quite literally). It is considered unfeminine to grow underarm hair, or God forbid allow hair to grow on your private parts. Exotic descriptions like a “Brazilian” are designed to glamourize what boils down to a pretty painful process, having hot wax applied to the highly sensitive skin surrounding your privates and then having it ripped off, to leave your skin raw and sensitive, with a high likelihood of painful ingrown hairs unless you apply the latest and greatest chemical treatments that are often toxic and sting like the dickens. I won’t lie, ingrown hairs are incredibly painful, often more so than waxing itself (not to mention unsightly, which was kind of the point of waxing in the first place, no?)
Razors are an option, but as someone without a great deal of shaving finesse (despite having done it for many years) I can’t in good conscience put it forward as a pain free option. If you are able to avoid nicks and cuts, you are nonetheless graced with prickly stubble a day or two later, making the whole process a bit redundant. Unless you shave daily, but that requires a significant time investment, especially if you are covering all the required bases of bikini area, underarms, and full legs.
I’ve struggled with the great hair debate, part of me feels rebellious about eliminating body hair. If mother nature put it there, likely there is a reason for it, no? But marketing professionals make a pretty good case for picking up the razor or submitting to a hot wax plucking. After all, we have no models for free flowing body hair for women. Anyone depicted this way in mainstream media is weird and freaky, certainly not someone to be emulated or admired. We are pack creatures by and large, the idea of breaking off on our own can be alienating and fear inducing.
This winter I let it all slide. I allowed my hair to grow free form on all areas of my body. And it was incredibly liberating. During winter months I didn’t have to worry too much as no one could see it, and my husband could care less. Then we started driving south, and with the warmer weather and shorter sleeves came an increased shyness to lift my arms past a certain point (not in vogue, but with more pedestrian gestures, like pointing and picking up my son). Intellectually I had embraced my inner cousin it, but I apparently have more work to do when it comes to feeling comfortable exposing my underarm hair to the world.
As we got closer to our departure date for a family meet up in Mexico, my to remove or not to remove debate raged fast and furious. Do I submit myself to myriad painful processes to remove the offending hair, or do i let my freak flag fly and embrace my inner hippie? We have made a lot of changes over the past few years, every one getting us a bit further off the beaten track. With all of these changes we are already a bit offbeat, would underarm hair really make a big difference in others’ perception of me?
Turns out I am not quite there yet, resulting in the application of hot wax and smarting underarms. What bothers me about this is not the pain, or the whopping $24 I am now short but the fact that I was doing it for the benefit of others, many of whom could likely care less. And if they do, that says more about them than me. Although I have to own the fact that my concern about the reception of my underarm hair is my issue. Either I own it, and do what I like, or I let it go and stop angsting about it.
Part of my inner debate had to do with questioning the line between embracing myself as I am vs letting myself go. As I mentioned above, I’ve made lots of changes on my quest to embrace a healthier lifestyle and learning to love myself more. I have let go of wearing make up and we have shifted to more eco friendly products (some of which I make myself). The end result is I look a lot less polished than I used to, but I feel a lot better. I am spending less time putting myself together, time that allows me to engage in self care activities like skin brushing, journaling and meditation.
Aesthetically, yes I have likely let myself go as compared to the women I am supposed to model myself after in magazines and ads. But I would argue that the time I am investing in self care and loving myself as I am more than make up for this perceived deficit. I love the quote “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” My goal is to take this advice to heart and decide whether or not to embrace my inner hairy goddess not to please or offend anyone else, but because it is what feels right for me.
What is your take on the issue of hair removal?