****DISCLAIMER: This post is not a negative critique on people with body hair, nor is it meant to body shame in anyway. It is an honest look at my own experience with body hair during an experiment that resulted in a genuine conclusion that I am okay with.****
On September 16th, I shared an article on Facebook via My Favorite F Word is Feminism about growing out body hair.
That article was my push to be open about something I was struggling with.
My arm hair.
When I shared that article, I confessed that over the past two months I had been growing out my arm hair.
Some women grow out their leg hair. Some grow out the hair in their armpits (and dye it, might I add). Me, I just made the weird decision to grow out the hair on my arms to see how I would feel.
Here is my backstory:
When I was 13, I was standing outside the entrance of Fleetwood Park Secondary School with a group of people. [I’m going to call them people because I don’t really remember their names, their faces, or why I let their opinions get to me].
It was a warm day at the end of September. It was my first year of grade 8. My first year at a new school with none of my friends from elementary school in attendance. I was wearing a t-shirt.
“Your arms are so hairy. You should shave them”.
She said that to me. I remember her name. I will always remember her name. I won’t write her name because if she somehow, for whatever reason, stumbles upon this, I don’t want her to know how much her comment shaped my grooming rituals.
Her 9 words stuck with me for 14 years.
I decided a few months ago to stop shaving my arms. After all, I’m a woman in her mid-twenties. I’m knowledgeable in sociology, anthropology, and women’s studies, so why was I still conforming to gender stereotyping and social norms?
I realized almost immediately that my hair grew quickly, thicker, and darker.
I wanted to see if I would be treated any differently. I wanted to see if anyone would comment on my hairy limbs. I wanted to see if I felt any different with a layer of hair on my body that I had gone so long without having.
No one said a thing. Nothing. Nada. Zip.
My family, my boyfriend, my best friends, good friends, some-times-friends, acquantences, school friends, coworkers, or regular customers at work didn’t notice. People that I know to be honest to me, always, did not utter a word.
I was sort of shocked.
Mostly, I was shocked that I was the only one that ended up criticizing my arms. During my entire experiment, I felt conscious of my body hair at every given moment. If I was wearing a particularly cute top, I instantly felt frumpy because of the state of my arms. I even began to hate my tattoos. I felt the colours did not pop as much because they were blocked by a wall of fur. My beautiful lady head became bearded and my kewpie doll looked as if it was going through puberty. I also noticed some of my imperfections became hidden. Imperfections that I’m particularly fond of: certain scars, freckles, etc.
To put it simply, I did not feel like myself. As soon as my tattoos became hidden, I felt like a completely different person.
Tonight, while I was in the bath, I shaved my arms. It took…a while. Removing two and a half months of hair was surprisingly liberating. During my entire time of no-shaving, I thought that I would feel empowered by embracing my body hair.
I was not ridiculed by anyone other than myself. As much as I want to be a strong feminist that is able to feel free from the razor, I’m not.
And that’s okay.
I told myself I wouldn’t shave my arms unless I had a legitimate reason. As soon as I felt displeasure towards my body art, I knew I couldn’t live a hairy life.
To all of you that embrace your body hair, I feel so much contentment towards you. You are amazing.
I’m glad I tried this experiment because I learned a lot about how I feel about my body and how important the visibility of my tattoos are to me.
After (please excuse my eczema)