The Grumpy Giraffe

Critiques on social and education issues

The Taboo of Hair: Armpits, Legs, and …

Many girls in North America gladly say they hate winter, but really, the love it. Through secretive FBI-like methods that are unspeakable (lest I sacrifice one kidney and half my large intestine to the sacred gods), I have discovered the reason for these girls to like winter, and it is not because of the snow. Rather, it is because they do not need to shave their body hair, which cuts down the amount of time needed to prepare for the day.

And there isn’t such a long line at the bathroom in the morning.

But I do need to clarify: girls never needed to shave any of their hair. Men don’t either. However, I will concentrate this post on girls and body hair because men with body hair is still somewhat conventionally attractive, even if it is slightly less popular than the man with no chest hair and is cleanly shaven to the follicle.

The image of beauty for females, particularly in North American culture, has always had the tendency to lean towards the pre-pubescent appearance. Women had to be concerned about their appearance (and hair) since the dawn of time, but mostly, it was only for the visible parts (which made sense: why care about the appearance of the parts that people don’t see?). However, the obsession with shaving underarm hair began in 1915, which is when sleeveless dresses took the fashion world by storm. Leg hair came later.

Currently, the obsession of body hair has extended past underarms and legs. It’s even gone to the private parts. But really, it is not necessary to shave anywhere you don’t want to. And girls, feel free to restrain from shaving in the summer!

It’s quite ironic that the standards of beauty for men are so vastly different from women, practically polar opposites. Older men are seen as more successful, stronger, bigger, taller, and generally more distinguished and established. Older women are seen as the leftover meatloaf from Christmas last year that nobody wants to touch. Sexual attitudes of men and women are also vastly different: men are pimps, and gain social capital for this (even in white-collar jobs), but women are seen as lusty animals, and can quickly lose face should even a rumour be leaked around the office.

As a society, we are obsessed with body hair, despite it being a silent, bubbling obsession. With so much silent attention towards body hair, it seems to be a taboo topic to talk about. It is always seen as a “personal” issue, but when some girls walk out of their house in shorts with leg stubble, they receive more attention than wanted (and not the type that beckons her for a phone number). Nobody talks about body hair, but we all stare.

Arm/leg hair, like haircuts, trimming fingernails, and matching your socks, is merely a social norm. Some people may talk about health benefits of shaving body hair, but keep in mind there are also consequences.

Body hair does not exist solely for the sake of existing. When you shave the hair off, there is no more insulation to keeping your skin moisturized, which leads to dry skin much quicker than if the leg hair was not shaved. Dry skin leads to cracked skin, meaning you can see white lines. Not only is that unattractive (which is not my reason for disliking cracked skin), but it allows germs and other harmful bacteria to enter your body quicker. Your skin serves as a shield for your entire body, and it needs to stay moisturized to be flexible when you move around so it doesn’t break. Once it cracks, you are exposing the vulnerable.

Body hair is also an evolutionary adaptation to protect the body from extreme temperatures. Yes, we have clothing now, but nature is a genius. There are already some special people among us who do not have (or have very little) body hair, and they are more evolved than the rest of us. However, if nature has dubbed you as one of those who do have body hair, that most likely means your body, yours, still needs it.

Of course, shaving body hair is ultimately a personal choice. People should not be judged whether or not they decide to shave their underarms. If girls want to wear sleeveless dresses without shaving their underarms, then so be it. Their body, their business. Your body, your business.

Teachers, parents, and communities need to begin having serious and open discussions about body hair. Men’s facial hair has gotten approval; it’s time for females to feel safe and welcome  in their own bodies as well. We talk about gender equality, but if we can’t even deal with problems relating to our individual selves, how can we talk about the macro gender problems that are still rampant in society?

The taboo of hair needs to be dispelled. We need to let this obsession of body hair get under our skin; to feel upset and concerned enough to start a real discussion on the dispelling of this so-called taboo topic.

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4 comments on “The Taboo of Hair: Armpits, Legs, and …

  1. kel r
    September 12, 2013

    I feel a thousand times more confident without body hair. It feels cleaner and sexier and it increases my sex drive and satisfaction during sex. I shave my arms, underarms, legs, stomach, and my you know what. And i think chooaing not to shave is poor hygiene plain and simple. You smell more! By your logic not shampooing your hair is ok too.

    • The Grumpy Giraffe
      September 22, 2013

      No, I said to shave or not to shave is your personal opinion, but hygiene is important. I have also reiterated how keeping body hair on you can be better than shaving it all off, so I won’t repeat that here again.

      As long as you keep it clean and remember to wash properly your areas, you should have no problems. Choosing not to wash your hair is entirely different than shaving your entire head.

  2. Pingback: Don’t push the big red button: vagina and sex ed | The Grumpy Giraffe

  3. Luchessa
    March 7, 2013

    You made me smile with this post dear grumpy giraffe :D And i guess there is a big part of truth here. :D

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This entry was posted on March 7, 2013 by in society and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .

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