Women having “clean shaven” legs, bikinis, armpits, forearms, and of course a waxed or plucked face is the norm. It’s how “beautiful” woman are expected to look. It’s what the porn industry is currently teaching men (and woman) to expect and desire. It’s relatively new too, before the ’80s no one batted an eye. Even during the ’80s, from what I hear, not many people did.
And really, the preference to shave is fine if you do it for you. If you want smooth hair free legs, go for it. I started shaving my body hair in middle school and I was excited to do it! All my friends were after all. Then, in the eighth grade after the serious car accident I was in, it became hard.
As a result of nerve damage it is hard for my right hand to even hold the razor correctly and my left hand was left so weak by the semi-paralysis that it also has trouble, plus as a result of my TBI I have frequent tremors that flare up when I concentrate. This makes shaving not only hard to do but a tad bit scary.
So I slowed down on shaving, only really did it before going out. I was teased quite a bit for it too. Even my mom would encourage me to shave, she’d offer to help but that was far too awkward.
So the next step was to try waxing. I already got my eyebrows waxed like every three weeks or so, it was almost natural to add the rest of my body to the procedure. Pretty simple too, but as some of you may be ahead of me getting a more or less full body wax so often gets very expensive. It’s flat out unsustainable. So of course the natural next step is to buy a home waxing kit and I did, but again some of you might see where this is going, although this is fine for legs and forearms generally tremors still make it difficult to get those sensitive areas done right.
Living in California I felt extremely uncomfortable, especially since I have such dark hair, so I did some myself and some at the salon. This made my dehairing procedure long and annoying but it was doable. Winters weren’t so bad but in the summer months it felt like I spent almost as much time getting rid of my hair as I did at the beach, super annoying.
Once I moved up to Oregon though life was great! Not only was it cold enough to keep my entire body covered for most of the year, but I soon discovered that a huge amount of the woman here just don’t shave anyway. Most often for feminist reasons. I heard things like “body hair is beautiful” and “why should woman be expected to shave when men are not?”
Being apart of the dating world I would still hear dumb shit like “I prefer a smooth woman” or “It just makes things so much easier.” To be honest though most guys don’t care at all, and it was just a faster way of picking out the guys who weren’t gonna work with me. Once I even just straight up my kicked a guy out of my place when he tried to shame me about it. It’s my body, my choice. This goes for just everyday friends too, a friend wouldn’t tell you they are uncomfortable to be seen with you because your eyes aren’t blue or because your nose is too big. So why should anyone accept a friend who would because you did not shave your armpits?
I would say what a person does with their body hair (or any hair for that matter) is totally within their realm of autonomy. According to the 14th Amendment autonomy is defined as such:
“The right of privacy has evolved to protect the freedom of individuals to choose whether or not to perform certain acts or subject themselves to certain experiences.”
I am well aware that the 14th Amendment is referring to autonomy as privacy of family, marriage, motherhood, procreation, and child rearing and I do not wish to go too far because I know that the 14th Amendment is a very serious issue however it does seem that it could be argued that autonomy over body hair could (in certain situations) fall into this category.
According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “When people living in some region of the world declare that their group has the right to live autonomously, they are saying that they ought to be allowed to govern themselves. In making this claim, they are, in essence, rejecting the political and legal authority of those not in their group. They are insisting that whatever power these outsiders may have over them, this power is illegitimate; they, and they alone, have the authority to determine and enforce the rules and policies that govern their lives.” This definition grants everyone the right to govern their own body. Maybe you consider it a stretch but I feel it is a truth preserving statement that if a person is to ‘govern their own body’ then they can cover it with however much hair, tattoos, piercings, or fabric that they desire.