Anyone who regularly removes body hair will know just how much of a pain it is, both in the literal and metaphorical sense. Regardless of the method you use it’s expensive and time-consuming, and reaching everything without help is tricky. Even with every product on the planet in use, the result can be sore skin and uncomfortable rashes, and after all that effort it just grows back. With certain disabilities the bending and stretching is painful and energy-sapping, and pulling a sharp razor across your skin with shaking hands is a guaranteed way to look like Freddy Krueger started a beauty salon. I can think of better ways to spend my time.
Despite all of this the societal pressure to remove body hair if you’re femme-presenting, or if you work in certain industries, is so over-whelming that it remains a common practice. Hair removal products take up entire aisles in stores, and the adverts of women shaving already hairless skin are unavoidable. Anyone who dares to deviate from convention is often mocked with the “crazy cat lady” trope, although personally I take more offence to being called a woman than the implication that I will die alone surrounded by four-legged friends (also, I’m married, and with my health record it wouldn’t take much to outlive me). A certain breed of fedora-wearing jackass will use the word feminist as an insult, and anonymous commenters make very bold insults for someone who doesn’t have a profile picture. The constant onslaught of being deemed too ugly for modern society is enough to make anyone bend to pressure, including me.
I don’t want to know how many hours of my life have been spent watching short, fuzzy hairs disappear down the drain, or how many tubes of moisturising cream I’ve slathered on my skin in an attempt to quell the itching. Nothing quite compares to the teenage agony of discovering a patch of hair that escaped the culling, and the shame I felt as I tried to hide it. Having been bullied for having body hair in primary school, I went to great lengths to appear smoother than my chemistry teachers’ bald head going forwards.
Then COVID19 happened.
With all of my human interaction with anyone other than my husband and the Amazon delivery guy being online, I very quickly stopped bothering with hair removal; it was a revelation. The hours spent doing hair-removal yoga suddenly became hours I could spend relaxing. I read books and played games instead. As the months passed, I grew more and more comfortable in my own skin (quite literally), and even managed to take pride in the one leg hair that is inexplicably almost an inch long (yes, I measured it). After a year of hairy happiness, I won’t ever be going back.
Making the choice to spend time, money, and energy removing body hair should be exactly that – a choice. Some people like it and this in no way undermines their commitment to undermining capitalism, but the people that don’t like it shouldn’t feel the need to do it. I’ve not stopped shaving because it makes me more “woke”; I’ve stopped shaving because I don’t want to shave. Now the only time you’ll ever see me with a razor in my hand is the night before getting a new tattoo.