Lauren, 30, a sustainable designer who lives in Austin, TX
"I grew up studying ballet. In high school, I distinctly remember seeing another dancer with hairy armpits. I’d been shaving since junior high, so at first I was freaked out. I made the assumption that she smelled and didn’t use deodorant. The image stuck with me.
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When I got to college, I become more self-aware. I started to learn about feminism, and it resonated with me. I eventually decided to stop shaving my legs and underarms too. I didn’t stop plucking my eyebrows and grooming my bikini area until just last year ago, though. I think I was holding onto those two because, for some reason, the hair there seems more embarrassing.
When I went on dates, I never drew attention to the fact that I don’t shave my legs. I didn’t feel I had to give guys a heads up; they’d just noticed on their own, I figured. Some guys were still interested after the discovery; others would notice the hair and stop calling me. My current boyfriend loves natural women – and the smell of a natural body. Ultimately, my hair helped me attract a guy with the same values as me.
Just the other day, my boyfriend and I were talking about this idea that women feel they need to be hairless. We argue that it stems from a desire to look prepubescent – and that men are attracted to a look that makes them feel superior. On the other hand, I’ve heard that women are sometimes more attracted to hairy guys during certain stages of our menstrual cycles. We see hair as more masculine. The evolutionary aspects of attraction are intriguing. It’s all very mammalian!
On a more political note, refraining from shaving means I get to wear my values on my sleeve. Like having dreadlocks or wearing conservative clothing, my stance on body hair sends a message about the person I am and, in the process, empowers me. Society dictates what’s accepted and what’s frowned upon when it comes to female body image. It’s hard to understand what could be wrong with something as natural as hair. The fact that we’re even talking about it is kind of funny."
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What's your stance on female grooming?