Patricia, 31, a doula who lives in Carterville, IL:
"When I was dating I used to refer to my armpit hair as my 'superficiality filter.' I think it worked pretty well, though I also think I met guys who had 'hairy girl' on their must-bone bucket lists. I’m married now, but back in my single days I was brazen about my hairy legs. Men simply didn’t approach me if they weren’t into it. I had one boyfriend, though, who wouldn't introduce me to his grandmother because of my hairy legs. That bummed me out, but didn’t deter me.
I was 18 when I quit shaving; it was just after high school graduation. I had known other women who didn't shave, and I began to identify with them. I had started to realize that the ritual of women removing all their body hair is dictated by consumerism and fear-based marketing. In short, it’s about buying products. I thought, I shouldn’t have to spend a lot of money to remove something that’s a part of me; it made me feel preyed upon. I don’t want to lower myself an inch so that someone else can make a dollar.
Probably the only rude comment I’ve ever gotten was when I was 21. I worked as a restaurant server and I wore a tank top to wait tables, so my armpits were pretty visible. A customer made a ‘Go shave your pits!’ comment that was kind of upsetting. Surprisingly, four or five women jumped to my defense immediately. These were all women who didn’t have a hair on their bodies, but they defended me.
Ironically, I do get my eyebrows waxed every now and then. I do it for me, though; I don’t like having a unibrow. And I will shave my legs now and then; I even did it for my wedding. I do get the appeal of shaving. It feels nice to have smooth legs against clean sheets.
Nowadays, I continue to go au naturale simply out of convenience. I don't know if I could keep up with shaving every few days. Plus, my husband doesn’t care about my hair — in fact, that’s part of what attracted him to me in the first place. It shows I have conviction, he says. That I have an opinion and I’m putting myself out there. He admires that about me.
My career has given me even more insight into the perception of women and body hair, and what a personal thing it is. I work as a doula — assisting women before, during and after childbirth — and when I meet with a new client, the conversation about hair always seems to happen. Most women feel the need to preface or comment on their 'situation' down there. Whether they have pubic hair or not, they'll say, "Oh there’s nothing down there" or "there’s gonna be hair there, and I want you to know." It’s natural for women to feel vulnerable in this situation. When it comes to their grooming habits, I think they should just do whatever makes them feel empowered." Keep reading...
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