I like my legs smooth. I shave them all year long, even when it's January and no one is seeing me naked. Hair is actually the one thing I'm pretty obsessive about. I dye and pluck and shave and wax like it's nobody's business. I can't really say why, and that bugs me. Does all this hair removal make me a hypocrite when it comes to ranting about oppressive beauty standards? I can't help but have a sort of wonder and admiration for the women who just let their hair be, like Paloma Goñi from the Huffington Post, writer of "I Don't Shave."
"I'm one of those women who loathes hair removal," explains Goñi. "I began to realize I was shaving unnecessarily, and only doing so because it was expected of me as a woman." Goñi decided to stop with the hair removal, despite the stares and comments she gets when she bares her legs.
At first, when Goñi asked her boyfriend to shoot photos of her for the article, he refused. "He told me the pictures were an assault against aesthetics," she explains. "I agree. They're an assault against an aesthetic, against an image of female beauty that we have ingrained in our culture and in our society."
I don't find the images of the writer aesthetically pleasing. I can't help it. I know this is my own shortcoming, my own narrow minded take on hairiness. I applaud Goñi for trying to change this restrictive aesthetic ideal, but I also think faking my way into admiration would be hypocritical. Maire Le Conte from NewStatesman calls this "hypocritical enthusiasm."
It’s an easy one to notice: just take your jumper off, and the person will start with a shocked “Oh!”, feel guilty about said exclamation, and proceed to spend about fifteen minutes telling you “Yes! No ! Really! It’s great! I wish I could do that! In fact, YOU’RE great!”, when the only thing in their minds clearly is “ew”.
But then again, Julia Roberts managed to pull it off.
A lot of our old-fashioned ideas — including my own borderline hair-phobia — are just the result of the sea of hairless ladies out there. Seeing the hairy female body as beautiful will only happen through extended exposure — if you see something over and over again, it's inevitable you'll get used to it, and eventually find it aesthetically pleasing.
Perhaps hairy armpits are the final frontier of positive body image. If, like me, you're not ready to throw out your razor, you can still get used to a lady's right to choose by checking out this badass Facebook group for sharing hairiness.
Image: Eric Hunsaker on Flickr