On June 24th, 2022, the United States Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade. Besides feeling irate that abortion is now illegal in certain states, I feel sad. Women will die because of the lack of maternal care they deserve. I could go on and on about how medical abortions are not only necessary but life saving, but that is not the purpose of this post.
The past month since the decision, I’ve done a lot of reflecting on what it means to be a women in this world. I recognize the advances in legal rights and privilege women have been fighting for since the beginning of time, and that my privilege as a white woman is significant.
However, I was stuck by the multitude of ways women are told how to live in the United States (and elsewhere, but I will only speak for what I know).
Women are told from a very young age how to act, talk, dress, look, and speak. This isn’t new, I think about these influences often. But one that took me longer to digest this past month was body hair.
I think about the significance of body hair on women. Hair on our head? Ok that is fine, but please dye it this color. No wait, highlights please. OK so the trend has changed, so go straighten it chemically. No, curl it now. OK, your hair isn’t shiny enough so buy this product. Now this one. Spend hundreds to have your hair styled and dyed just right. Ok have it this length, but not shorter, ok? Oh, you have grey hair? Absolutely not. Please dye it until you are 80. Grey hair is unacceptable. Oh the toxins? Don’t worry about them, this is essential.
($$$) Have you ever thought about the beauty industry and how much money they make off of us? They are raising the beauty standard bar and changing the rules on us every season for a reason. It is to keep us feeling not-quite-good-enough. Occupied with our appearance instead of our brains. (It’s not only the beauty industry, it’s also the patriarchy, and fashion, etc).
But back to body hair. We are is shamed for having it at all, so we pluck and shape and wax our eyebrows and chins. We wax our bikini area (OUCH) and our legs, and sometimes our arms. Or, if we are really lucky, we remove it all with a Lazor Beam($$$). Why? Because having body hair, is unattractive. The same hair that your body grows for an health actual purpose is to be removed at all cost. Pre-pubescent is in and is attractive. Anything else is unacceptable. And what is worse than an unattractive woman? Nothing. Why? Because we are for looking at. By men.
I have been shaving my legs and underarms religiously since the age of 12. I could not wait for my mother to allow me to shave them. I went to the pharmacy with her, chose my scent of “Skintimate” shaving cream, and the pinkest razor I could find. This was a huge step into womanhood for me.
It wasn’t until high school that my first boyfriend felt below the belt and commented that I should shave off my pubic hair. I had not received this message from friends or event he media at that age, and felt ashamed and embarrassed for not “knowing that body hair was gross”. I would get the occasional comment from the same boyfriend and others when my legs were prickly. Or when they could see a shadow under my underarms. I learned that body hair was not safe for me.
I don’t blame these boys for perpetuating this type of bullying over my body, because that is what we are taught. Body hair is only OK for men. Not only is it OK but it is praised, applauded, as a sign of their manhood. Body hair for women? No. Repulsive. Remove all of it. At all cost. ($$$)
I am so tired of being told I have to change everything about my body until the end of time to chase this beauty standard that was created by a man.
And so after Roe V. Wade happened, I stopped shaving my legs, my pubic area, and my armpits. And you know what happened? Did I feel empowered and sexy and confident? No. I am too conditioned to see my own body as beautiful as it is. I found myself covering my armpits, wearing short sleeves instead of tank tops when out with friends, worrying about what others would think of me. And I couldn’t believe how hard it was for me to love my underarms. Full of black thick hair.
So, I keep wearing tank tops. I keep challenging these ridiculous narrative that body hair on a woman is disgusting. I am learning to feel comfortable in my skin the way it looks today, unshaven, and natural.
So, no, you can’t tell me what to shave, anymore. You can’t tell me that my body is ONLY beautiful when I have no body hair, when I am thin, when my hair and nails and makeup is just so.
You can’t tell me what to do. You can’t tell me if and when I can have a medical abortion, or any abortion, for that matter. We all deserve the right to choose what we do with our bodies because they are ours. We choose what makes us feel good. WE get the choice. Not some man at the top of the beauty or fashion industry, not the the patriarchal society, not anyone. You. Do. You.
Your body is not for you to discuss and criticize.
You grow, girl!
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