A Feminist Perspective: No Shave November
No Shave November. A “time honored” tradition where men greet the winter-y world with scruffy faces. This yearly challenge originated in Australia in 2004; however, in more recent years, women have begun to join in the trend. This year, I decided to take the plunge.
I have done versions of this “holiday” before, but I never once went an entire month without shaving at least some part of my body. This year, however, I decided it was important for me to complete the challenge in its entirety.
Here’s what I knew when I started: I preferred to shave at least my legs, I like how other women look with a little bit of peach fuzz in their armpits, and society sees body hair on women as distasteful.
I can vividly remember going to a theme park with my high school boyfriend and waiting behind a girl that was roughly our age to ride The Volcano. The line for this ride was always pretty long, so I decided to partake in my favorite public activity: people watching. My boyfriend and I took turns pointing out outfits we liked or making up back stories for other amusement park goers. Finally, as it was nearly our turn to board the ride, I saw the girl in front of me. I loved her outfit. She had short teal-ish hair, and she was wearing high-waisted shorts with a crop top accentuating her figure. I nudged my boyfriend at the time and pointed out how much I wanted to look like this girl. He nodded and pursed his lips. As her car zoomed away, he condescendingly noted: “I mean, she looked fine, but she looked like she had never shaved her legs in her life.” Many people of all genders are quick to draw the conclusion that female body hair is unclean, yet accept male body hair without even a blink of an eye.
I knew that I liked shaving my legs, but I needed to make sure that it was ME who liked shaving and not society’s rules for women. Therefore, I spent the entirety of November glaring at my razor in the shower, refusing to give into its wiles.
The first few weeks were easy. There aren’t many places that you can go in November that require you to bare your legs and underarms. I swim twice a week, but anyone who sees me in the pool is also trying to maintain their fitness by propelling themselves through cold water in the middle of winter, so I don’t really think they were paying much attention to the small bushes that were growing underneath my arms.
The biggest challenge came the week of Thanksgiving. I spent the week pin-balling back and forth between my boyfriend’s family and my own, generally trying to remain fancy at best and presentable at worst. I wore dresses nearly every day, and had to swing by the local Target twice to pick up more pairs of tights. Part of my experiment was seeing how comfortable I was, and while I can definitely deal with fellow college students side-eyeing my fury legs, I’m sure that if my long-term boyfriend’s mother looked distastefully at my body hair decisions I would have a breakdown.
No Shave November came to an end this Monday, and I came to this conclusion: I like shaving. I like how my legs look and feel. I like rubbing my legs against my blankets and feeling like a dolphin. It was important for me to find out that *I* am the one who likes these things. Don’t shame a woman because she chooses not to shave. Don’t shame her because she does. Don’t shame a woman for having sex, and don’t shame women who don’t. There is no reason to tell a woman that her body is not perfect because of YOUR beauty standards. I love me. I other people that do as well. If someone doesn’t? Oh well. Their loss. Be bodyposi. Be a feminist. Be exactly who you want to be.