The Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Native Americans were stripping themselves of body hair long before we existed. Appearing hairless was a sign of class and a component of fashion. The hairless ideal was again unleashed into the western world when the Flapper’s took over in the 1920‘s. Though many women today shave their pubic hair bare and keep their legs and underarms silky smooth, a young American film student lives by a different regimen. Wynde has armpit hair worthy of gawking at and legs covered in blonde fluff. On any given day, you can spot her wearing a 1950‘s-inspired number, serving up vegan food in her kitchen.

When you picture a girl who keeps her body hair, do you envision a young blonde with an eye for fashion and a handsome boyfriend? If not, then perhaps your point of view is in need of refinement. The above description gives you a pretty good idea of what I look like, but what I want you to further understand is who I am and why I chose to stop shaving.

I am a feminist, but the ideology isn’t necessary to feel comfortable with body hair. ‘Feminism’ has become a dirty word in our society, ignorantly defined as hatred for men and/or passion to be more like one. In reality, a man can be a feminist just as any woman can, for the term simply describes one’s belief that men and women are equal. It’s true that some women stop shaving because they find it unfair, but others stop only because they’re tired of the routine or because it irritates their skin. I personally stopped shaving for a combination of these reasons.

I’ve let my armpit, leg and pubic hair reign free since 2009. Contrary to the very fashionable bare look, pubic hair actually plays a very important role in keeping your most private parts healthy, but I digress. I initially stopped shaving during the infamous, American tradition of “No Shave November”, but then quickly decided to quit the chore all together. My showers are now shorter, water bills lower, and I no longer spend money on creams or razors. A hairless body may be the social norm, but I would choose my hydrated, razor burn-free skin over the average woman’s legs any day.

At first I was a bit scared of being judged, but that faded once I realized how powerful it is to make a decision for yourself. It’s important to realize that shaving is a choice. I believe for most girls there is no choice involved, because we’ve been sold the hairless image our entire lives. Many girls buy into it just as they buy into short skirts, push-up bras and makeup. “My body, my choice” is a prochoice campaign line, but the expression should apply to every decision a girl makes. It feels terrible to be different from other people when you’re very young, but gaining the courage to think for yourself is an important part of aging. Having leg and armpit hair takes courage because it’s not the norm.

It’s a pity that advertisers always find a way to take advantage of people. Around the year 1915, women very happily ditched their corsets for unfitted sleeveless dresses, but with one freedom gained they seem to have lost another. Women’s now visible armpits lead advertisers to “sell” underarm hair as unattractive. Women were acting like men in many ways. They were heading to college and even wearing their hair short, but heaven forbid they kept their body hair. What makes body hair so disgusting, and why can’t women with hair be beautiful, or even feminine? It’s as if we exist to sexually appeal to men. We don’t.

Being hairy is not a prerequisite to being friends with me. Some of my friends shave and some do not. I’m used to other women shaving, and since I don’t want people to judge me, I try not to judge as well. I really respect a person who is willing to have a discussion with me about my body hair rather than thinking it’s vile without question. I want my opinion to be respected, and some people are more respectful than others. Trust me when I say that keeping my body hair has kicked a lot of assholes out of my life. It’s a blessing, really.

If you ever decide to stop shaving, I assure you that you can still get a handsome boyfriend and that you can still wear cute dresses. If on the other hand you decide to continue shaving until the day you die, all I ask is that you make sure to take care of your skin in order to compensate. What’s more important than shaving or not shaving is that you exercise your right to choose. If you choose to do things to your body on your own terms, and not because the media or some other outside figure tell you to, then your choice should always be respected. Best of luck to all you, my sisters, both hairy and smooth!

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