Most blog entries entitled “Hair Story” are about women trying to grow their hair or women making the transition from relaxed to natural. This is not that. This is about hair other than on your head. BODY HAIR. I knew I had to go ahead and write this because I’ve been thinking about this topic for a few days. Then, out of the blue, a friend asked me if she had too much hair on her face and arms. “I was just about to blog about that!” I said.
Hair removal is part of my basic beauty regimen. I regularly remove hair from my legs, my bikini area and my armpits. I use a razor on my underarms and sometimes on my legs, but I prefer to use a depilatory on my legs and bikini. Once upon a time I got waxed, but that’s an expense that I cannot keep up at this time. (Aside: First time I got a Brazilian wax, I went to my auntie’s house and I was wearing a skirt. I lifted the skirt up and showed her my fresh wax. She laughed and said, “It looks just like when you were a baby and I changed your diapers!” LOL /End Aside).
I must admit, although it’s mildly embarrassing and TMI, that I pluck about two hairs per month from underneath my chin. Two short, stubborn, hairs. The bane of my existence. I also have some very fine hair on the sides of my face in the “sideburn” area. I guess on first glance, you can’t really notice them, but I know that they’re there. Like my friend, I wondered if I should be getting rid of it.
But really, what’s the big deal with us trying to rid ourselves of this hair? In her senior thesis, Kirsten Hansen observed the following:
Among my female friends hair removal is considered an annoying, arduous, often painful, but necessary ritual. Most insist on removing leg hair before putting on a skirt or shorts, and balk at the thought of wearing a bathing suit without shaving or waxing the bikini line. Hair removal is considered so essential to some of these women that they refuse to participate in daily activities such as exercising or going on a date if they have not paid proper attention to removing their body hair.
I can relate. I have opted for pants over a skirt because I didn’t have time to properly de-fuzz my legs. I have passed on stripping to the skivvies because I wasn’t “prepared”. I make these decisions even though I’m pretty sure that most men could care less. I bet guys wouldn’t balk at a little hair, so long as you don’t look like THEM!
I remember the first time I tried to shave my legs. I was sleeping over my girl Vee’s crib and we grabbed one of her brother’s disposable Bic razors. We scraped that thing up our legs, without water, soap, or shaving cream of any kind. Aaaaand, as you can imagine, we were nicked up. Small bleeding cuts served as evidence of our stupidity. Why did we do it? I guess we just thought we were supposed to. Trying to be grown and do what women did. Or we could have just been blinded by the ads for shaving cream in Seventeen Magazine (can’t believe I read that garbage).
In one of my classes last semester, I sat behind three chicks: One is biracial, the other is white and blond, the third is a brunette of Eastern European ancestry. I couldn’t ask for better subjects. All three of these women have hair on their faces. Not hair in a hirsute kind of way, but that kind of fine, barely noticeable hair that you have to be looking for in order to see. Clearly, I was looking. The hair sort of just tapers down from their hairline and sideburns until it “disappears” into the skin. No one, however, would consider them yucky hairy.
Imagine the trouble you’d have to go through to constantly wax or shave the fine, fine hair on your face, ladies. Do you really want to think about the expense of laser treatments? I think we are already too obsessed with removing the hair on our bodies and I bet that not one of us knows why we do it other than that same naive reasoning Vee and I employed when we cut our legs up with that Bic.
Face it, we’re going to get hairier. As women get older, they produce less estrogen and more of other hormones that contribute to hair growth on their bodies where there may have been none before. Other cultures tend to accept, even embrace, this reality. Ms. Hansen’s thesis goes on to examine how the advertising industry, in cahoots with the fashion industry, spearheaded the hairlessness = femininity ideal. If you want to read more, check out her full thesis, “The History of American Women and Hair Removal, 1914-1934.”
I consider myself pretty progressive, and I KNOW that a little fuzz doesn’t mean the end of the world. Yet, knowing what I know, I’m still going to continue with my usual hair removal routine. What can I say, I like the way my legs feel when they’re freshly shorn. I do NOT like what I see when a woman raises her arm and it looks like she’s growing a Chia crop under there. I damn sure don’t like those errant ass chin hairs!
Guess I am just a product of that good old Western socialization!
Are you a slave to hair removal? WHY?