The open joke in The Frisky offices is that while everyone else gets Brazilian waxes, I’m the proud queen of an au naturelle bush. I love my pubic hair — it makes me feel grownup and womanly and not like one of those gross hairless cats. I always trim a little bit, but that’s the extent of my below-panties grooming. The one and only time I got a wax, I wimped out at the pain and begged the waxer to give me a landing strip instead … and then couldn’t wait for my bush to grow back in. Join me, my sisters, and let your fur flag fly!
However, even if I downright refuse to go to Brazil, I have always shaved my legs and armpits meticulously. When your mother teased you throughout childhood with the nursery rhyme “Fuzzy Wuzzy Was A Bear,” you kinda have no choice on the matter.
At least, I thought so. Then I dumped my boyfriend two months ago and decided, Fuck it.
O’Ex-Boyfriend and I broke up because I didn’t, and don’t, want to be in a serious relationship right now. Between my career and my friends, my plate is full. I’m happy just enjoying my own company and I want to keep it that way. Not having much desire to date or hook up was the main impetus to let my body hair grow.
Not shaving the first few weeks of stubble on both my legs and armpits was the hardest. That’s when it felt the most unfamiliar. As tiny stubble grew longer into scratchy stubble, I felt what cisgendered, heterosexual women such as myself have been conditioned to feel about our body hair: it’s gross and I’m lazy and ewww. I went for a pedicure after work one evening and actually felt embarrassed when the woman in the nail salon saw my hairy legs. Perhaps she thought I was a Hobbit.
When the stubble grew out longer, my feelings about my body hair shifted; it just felt more like “This is a thing that I’m doing.” Surprisingly, my leg hair never got quite as thick or hairy as I would have imagined (Mom’s rhyme about “Fuzzy Wuzzy” might have warped my opinions on this). Likewise, I honestly forgot about my growing armpit hair entirely until I’d catch it in a mirror, like during my breast self-exams. As I mostly wear pants and the few times I wore a skirt or dress, I wore leggings or dark stockings, no one else saw my body hair during this time. (Well, that’s not entirely true — I did tell my sister, “Hey, look at how hairy my legs are!” over Thanksgiving. She was confused/impressed.)
The biggest upside to ditching my razor was the extra time on my hands. Shaving body hair is time-consuming beauty work, just like flat ironing your hair, putting on makeup, and painting nails. We may not think about it this way because grooming is so ingrained in our culture, but the time we use doing beauty work is time we are explicitly choosing not to do other activities. Maybe the 20 or 30 extra minutes a week that I regained by not shaving doesn’t sound like a big deal. But in the individual moments, I sure appreciated getting in and out of the shower more quickly (especially in the morning rush before work!).
Additionally, choosing not to participate in a grooming ritual made me feel more in control of my body in a way I would not have expected. For the 15 years that I have been shaving, it was something I did just because. Don’t get me wrote: I love putting makeup on and getting manicures and pedicures a lot. But now I know I also love feeling natural sometimes. Coming home after work, wiping makeup off my face, putting on comfy Gap yoga pants and a tee, I felt beautiful because I felt comfortable. O’Ex-Boyfriend used to tell me frequently that he thought I was really pretty even with no makeup on and I didn’t always believe him. Yet as I settled into my naturalness and its attendant comfort in my own skin, I retroactively believed him. Since I don’t always feel amazing about my weight, or my hair, or my dry skin, this feeling is something I cherished.
But all good things must come to an end … and as anyone who watched last week’s “What We Missed” video knows, I lasted two months on my hairy mission.
There were two reasons for finally shaving, which conflated together: A) I stopped feeling attractive from going natural and felt a desire to feel more stereotypically “feminine” and B) I wanted to get laid. The “this is gross” feeling returned even stronger than before; I wanted to wear a cute nightgown to bed instead of Gap yoga pants and not see two-months worth of leg hair. Simultaneously, my libido for partner sex returned and I started trying to figure out who I could hook up with no-strings-attached. I’d been perfectly happy to get myself off during all this time — and Lord knows everyone on The Frisky staff owns more vibrators than they know what to do with. But there’s only so much LitErotica.com this girl can read on her iPad before she wants some big burly guy to give her a spanking, pin her arms down, and then fuck her brains out.
So I scheduled a booty call with a guy I used to date. He knows what I like in bed and he has a sexy accent to boot. Amelia was strongly rooting for a fully-hairy hookup so that I could write about it — pageviews! — but given my desire to feel cute and “feminine,” I refused to go full Bigfoot on this guy. I’d rather he call me “chula” (sweetie) in bed like he usually does and I not learn how to say “hairy white girl” en espagnol.
After two months of going natural, I shaved it all off this weekend. And. It. Took. Forever. Ami had suggested I wax, since the hair was so long, but I didn’t want to spend the money or endure the pain. Instead I hopped in the tub for the world’s longest shower (and most messy post-shower cleanup. Sorry, roommate!). I am not exaggerating when I said shaving my legs gave me a workout. Seriously, I basically did horizontal sit-ups, I was bending up and down so much.
But you know what? My legs felt amazing afterwards. Two months without a razor pleased my dry skin, I think; I felt uncommonly soft instead of gasping-for-moisture dry. As I rubbed my Body Shop body lotion into my skin and then snuggled into my bed, I felt so “sexy” that I knew I’d made the right decision.
Would I ever forgo shaving again? Definitely. I learned things about myself and body and I actually think it was beneficial for my dry skin. I’m glad I did this little experiment. The only thing I regret is how now I’m back on the having-to-shave-the-stubble-every-other-day gerbil wheel again.