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Health

Reasons we’re ditching the razors and embracing our body hair

By Julia McKinlay

For what feels like forever, women have been held to some unrealistic beauty standards. We are taught by everything around us that our femininity is synonymous with our success as people. And this “femininity” is wrapped up in a lot of time-consuming, archaic- (pardon my French)-bullshit. One of the most random parts of it all is the obsession with the absence of our body hair.

Gender and Body Hair

Why is it that femme-identifying folk are expected to be smooth hairless creatures, while men are free to run around with their natural hairy armpits? Body hair doesn’t have a gender and yet it really feels like it represents one. 

Well, we know it hasn’t always been this way. I mean, cave women weren’t hanging by the watering hole waxing each other’s labia. But somewhere along the line body hair removal practices and expectations became deeply embedded in the culture of being a “woman.” 

Most research shows that as hair removal techniques and razors became more advanced the market saw an opportunity to target women. With hemlines getting higher with the change in fashion trends in the 20’s, razor companies shifted their advertising from just men's facial hair and began to focus on women’s body hair. Pretty soon, it was mainstream for women to be using safety razors and other methods of removing their armpit hair and leg hair to meet the beauty standards and to stay “clean” and “desirable”. By 1964, 98% of American women said they removed some body hair.

Current Culture

This hairless beauty standard has stayed in the mainstream constantly through the present. However, many badass humans are saying NO to the status quo and proudly letting their body hair grow as it pleases. Over the past few years, celebrities such as Julia Roberts, Amandla Stenberg, Madonna, Miley Cyrus, Bella Throne, Ashley Graham, and Lisa Bonet have challenged the hairless norm. At the forefront of this fight to dismantle heteronormative body hair ideals are BIPOC, queer trans and non-binary folk breaking gender barriers daily. As well as with the emergence of social media and specifically TikTok- we see brave people from all cultural backgrounds speaking out candidly about the trials and tribulations of self-love and body hair.

So why should you consider ditching the razor? 

Here are some reasons

Time

Have you ever wondered how much of your life has been spent in the shower with your legs propped up in various positions shaving? Let's say it takes you 5 minutes to shave your armpits, legs and pubic area and you shave 2 times a week (personally, it takes me way longer and I need to shave more frequently but let's just keep it simple for argument's sake). 

This equals 502 minutes or 8 hours and 36 minutes per year. Now times this number by however many years you have been shaving. For me, this comes out to 108 hours which is 4 and half DAYS OF MY LIFE. This doesn’t even scratch the surface of the time spent if you wax or sugar or use other hair removal techniques. 

Not to mention the number of times I’ve been late to plans because I last minute changed into a skirt or sleeveless top and now need to do a quick shave. 

Money

All aspects of hair removal are extremely pricy. Razors alone are so expensive. Even when buying men's razors to avoid the “pink tax” (which if you didn't know, isn't actually a tax but rather the gender-based pricing discrimination model that allows for women's products such as deodorants and razors to cost more than men’s for no reason at all), it still can break the bank. Shaving creams, exfoliating scrubs, ingrown hair oils, and at-home waxing kits all cost so much money. 

Not to mention if you go to a salon to get waxed/sugared/lasered etc. each appointment is nothing short of an expensive dinner for two. Like the time aspect, this all adds up. If I was better at math, I would be able to tell you how much it exactly adds up to, but I think we can all agree it wouldn't be just a chunk of change. 

Pain

Despite how happy the hairless women shaving their bare legs in razor commercials look shaving is not that easy and pain-free. Shaving can be painful during and after the process and can leave you with cuts, razor burns and ingrown hairs, especially impacting those with sensitive skin or coarser hair. Sliding a razor over already shaved hair because the stubble is coming out is the nightmare that so many women face especially during summertime, and it truly just sucks. 

Hair removal options that provide longer lasting results hurt even more. Waxing and sugaring (ever tried a Brazilian? ouchhhh) need to be done less frequently than shaving but OH MY GOD! It hurts. Don’t get me started on laser…. Not only is the treatment itself is seriously uncomfortable but you’re also at risk of sustaining burns that are not only painful but can leave permanent scarring. 

The only way to have no pain at all is to just let the hair be but that is easier said than done. If hair removal makes you feel your best and the pain doesn’t bother you then carry on, soldier! That said, it’s time we do away with the notion that “beauty is pain” and that painful hair removal techniques are necessary to achieving beauty. 

Give it a go! 

With summer winding down, now could be the perfect time to experiment with letting your body hair grow out without having to be on full display. But of course, if you want to remove every hair on your body that is your choice — there is no judgment here. As a society, we need to continue to place less importance on how we look but rather on how we feel. So if ditching the razor feels right for you then I say go for it!

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