We choose our looks and we feel good about ourselves differently. However, a subgroup of women who choose to have a natural look is frown upon by Western mainstream culture.
Women who don’t shave and brave enough to show it are often given odd looks on the street.
Perhaps our preferences have been shaped and molded by what we have seen on TV, movies, magazines, and imagines that are forced in our face everyday (Barbie dolls were constantly picked on for this reason).
Perhaps women think men prefer smoother skin.
Perhaps we are judging women who are seeking approval from a society that often disapproves her for her work.
Of course, I have no problem with women who shave, it is their choice, much like women who don’t shave. I am old enough to remember how fast the media was to criticize Julia Roberts when she decided to show her unshaved armpit in a highly publicized event (as if it is worth a debate by people who do not actually know her). The media description used words like scandal and controversy for this trivial event on Earth.
The society has a way of defining what is sanitary and not. Women who do not shave are frequently judged to have bad personal hygiene. Why? Do men who have unshaved face have bad personal hygiene? However, that is what the commercials want you to think. If you think you are not good enough, they offer you a product to make you feel good enough. You don’t really need it, you just want it to boost your advertisement-reinforced self-esteem.
Men who watched too much porn have an unrealistic view of women. If women follow men’s preferences, then they might as well just follow the fashion trend of the pornography industry where women are objectified.
Barbie dolls are constantly attacked for the building up little girl and little boy’s expectations. They also show up again in this “to shave or not to shave” topic a lot. I find Barbie’s presence in this topic a little absurd. I am not sure how much work it would require to paste the realistic hair on the Barbie dolls in the armpits, but I am pretty sure it would not make the Barbie arm move easily. Dolls are simplified, and at some point we have to understand that they just cannot be realistic enough. We know and even little kids know that we need our anus for properly discharging our waste, but most dolls in the store do not actually have an anus that we are generally born with.
Most everyone has a need to belong. Back then, I, as a teenage girl changing in the locker room for gym, was very self-conscious and self-aware. I was afraid of disapproval, embarrassed that I did not shave that day, feared for isolation from the other girls all because I had hair in my armpit, hair on my legs. One day in gym, I had shorts on, a guy who has always been friendly to me wanted to partner up with me doing sit-ups. We took turns putting pressure on each other’s feet. He was just so grossed out, by some simple little hair on my legs that could not harm anyone, and stayed away as far as he could from me during gym class afterwards. But so what? Hair does not change my personality, if one chooses friends by looking at body hair, then I guess companies would make a lot of money than they are right now.
I actually think there is a very logical reason for people to choose not shaving. Economic reason and resource conservation (environmental reason). Shaving takes time and energy. It cuts down a lot of time in the shower if the time is added up. All the razor and the water and the shaving cream needed for shaving require money. Once one starts to shave, it is a commitment to spending money for possibly a lifetime on a product. Imagine, a lifetime worth of razor blades, shaving cream, extra lotion, wax, etc. Sure, one may choose to have hair removed by laser, but it costs a lot more in multiple sessions with some risks. So the waste coming from that is also energy consuming to treat and the chemicals coming from those waste is accumulating year by year.
I don’t shave because I don’t want to become a slave of the unnecessary products that also require me to spend even more time and energy and water, but as a woman in academia, I also have to not put my body hair in anyone’s face (that is, until somehow the stereotype changes or I am in a position where criticisms don’t affect my job evaluation). If someone feels body hair is not appropriate, who am I to judge? If people don’t rub something I don’t like in my face, I think it is common courtesy not to rub something they don’t like in their faces. So it is my choice to be in this position and I am fully comfortable with the way I look and feel. Someday I may plot to adjust the way people think about this in academia, but that is another battle for another time.
I did not realize but this post apparently coincided the Armpit4August. So for the women who embrace their natural body hair, brave on and show the world there is more than one choice for women!