What is wrong with hairy women?

womanYesterday, my friend Yasmin from school posted this article about not shaving. Long story short, she’s a lady who mostly doesn’t shave her body hair. The comments on her Facebook were lovely and supportive, saying that they supported her decision to do what she wanted with her own body.

But then today happened.

Firstly, in a cycle of revision procrastination (yes, I still have exams, cry) I looked at the comments on the original article. Here, the messages of support were somewhat drowned out by the heckles of “disgusting!” Then, the Mirror paraphrased the article with a poll to match; “do you support Yasmin’s decision not to shave?” The two options were “yes, it’s her right” or “no, it’s disgusting.” Call me naive, but I assumed that most people would largely agree that people should be allowed to do what they want with their body. “No, it’s disgusting” is currently winning with 56%.

The Telegraph also picked it up, with another poll, this time saying that Yasmin goes to the University of Reading…despite the article being on the Tab Liverpool page.

However, the backlash isn’t just from anonymous idiots and dubious journalism organisations. Seeing a woman with fully grown body hair can be shocking to most.

Therefore, I decided to create a simple article to address some of these comments, in support of Yasmin and every other woman who isn’t ashamed of having the ability to grow hair. 

But it’s so unfeminine!

Western women only started shaving their underarms after 1915. Shaving legs only became popular in the 40s. Women still had  acceptable body hair when gender roles were far stronger than they are today. Perceptions of what is feminine and what isn’t change; pink used to be for boys.


But it’s unhygienic! It’s disgusting!

I’m going to assume that by this, people mainly mean the pubes. Almost the opposite is true. In the words of the director of the health centre at Western University in Washington State says, “pubic hair removal naturally irritates and inflames the hair follicles, leaving microscopic open wounds. Frequent hair removal is necessary to stay smooth, causing regular irritation of the shaved or waxed area. When that is combined with the warm, moist environment of the genitals, it becomes a happy culture media for some of the nastiest bacterial pathogens.” It’s far more hygienic to leave your body hair be.

Also, it’s worth noting that most of the disgusting comments came from men. Funny how their body hair isn’t largely considered disgusting.

But it’s unnatural!

Oh yeah sorry, I forget that I actually superglued all this hair to my body.

But it’s so dark!

Big shocker, some people have different colours of hair. Furthermore, it says in the article that Yasmin is from Turkic decent. I’m no expert on ethnicity, but it really shouldn’t be surprising that her leg hair is darker than a Scandinavian girl’s. Given how much of the world ethnically have dark hair, it feels a bit like we’re treading on morally ambiguous ground by saying one is more pleasing than the others.

But you’re just doing it for attention!

Take it from me, a fairly average sized lady, that shaving your entire body takes a pretty long time. Not to mention the problem of shaving cuts, rashes and ingrown hair. Even if she was just doing it for the political statement, is there anything inherently wrong with that? It seems pretty sad to me that simply not meticulously removing hair from your body can be considered a political statement. But no, you’re right, she was probably just doing it so that she could get strangers on the internet to call her disgusting.

But you’ll never get a man!

Women’s only interest in life. Though, seriously, I think it’s a little belittling to assume that body hair is a make or break situation for most men. Given the English weather, most of the time you can’t even see most of women’s bodies; let alone individual follicles.

But this isn’t a big deal!

Ideally, “a female student has hair” shouldn’t be a big deal. It really shouldn’t. However, some comments say “you are such a skank, will be forever alone” or “this is fucking disgusting”. Maybe I’m just faint hearted, but I think you have to be pretty brave to stand up to that kind of backlash.

But I don’t think it looks good!

I understand why you think this, I really do. Obviously, aesthetics are subjective. But, I think it’s important to think about the part that social conditioning plays. Hair removal adverts for women don’t even start with a hairy lady; they start with a clean shaven woman shaving perfectly smooth skin. I think that says a lot about the way we view hair on women.

Picture by istolethetv

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