When – and Why – Did You First Start Shaving? 10 Women Share Their Stories
It’s time to reevaluate where we stand on shaving. While the act of removing body hair is an individual choice, we’re kidding ourselves if we deny that having a hairless body is normalised by friends and peers, family members, and the media. From these different influences, many women are taught to associate shaving with hygiene, cleanliness, and femininity. There are also plenty of women who question shaving and are reteaching themselves to be comfortable with body hair on their body-positivity journey. Some women are simply over it.
Read on for quotes from 10 women about their relationship to shaving, and whether they choose or refuse to do it.
“I felt weird that my legs were so hairy, so one day I just decided to try shaving without telling my mom. I didn’t tell her before I did it because I didn’t want her to talk me out of it. Shaving is a pain in the ass. I don’t enjoy the act of doing it because it’s difficult, time consuming, and feels like a chore. However, I enjoy the feeling of freshly shaved legs. I feel prettier and more put together when I shave. So I guess I do it for myself, but a large reason is because I have been socialized to associate shaved legs with being beautiful and more feminine.”
“Truthfully, I started shaving because a girl in my class made a not-so-nice comment about my leg hair: she told me my legs looked like Big Bird’s legs. I don’t mind the feeling of leg hair, but I also have light blond leg hair that isn’t as thick as others’ might be.
Pubic-area-wise, I’ve never really shaved for anyone, and have only been waxed once for a beach trip, so I don’t really consider that a necessity for myself personally.”
“I was 11 when I shaved the first time, and I did it because I thought I wanted to be grown-up. Today, I really don’t like to shave at all. I never shave in the Winter, and some Summers I don’t even shave unless I’m going to a pool or the beach. I really do love the way it feels when I’ve shaved, but sometimes I’m just too lazy and don’t have the time to take care of myself the way I would like to. I think it would be nice to shave once a week. I just don’t have the time, energy, or patience to do that.”
“I feel like my relationship with shaving has changed a lot over the years and will continue to change. I go to a college where not shaving is considered hip and popular. That environment has definitely served as a catalyst to redefining my relationship with my body hair. I used to shave consistently in high school, but now I don’t shave when I’m at college and I have tried to redefine my own ideas of beauty around shaving. But when I go home or go to an event, I usually shave.
At first, I was critical of that decision because I thought I wasn’t being true to myself. But over time I have come to understand that sometimes the anxiety that comes with choosing to not shave is worse than just deciding to shave. While I don’t care much about the negative comments my family might make, I definitely shave for fancy and/or professional occasions because those are situations where I want to fit in.
I also shave sometimes because it’s something that my romantic/sexual partner prefers because I value her preferences. I have grappled and will continue to grapple with how to respect my body and to what extent I value the comfort and preferences of who I’m in company with, intimate or otherwise. That being said, I think it’s OK to revert to someone else’s preferences sometimes and it doesn’t necessarily have to make me any less radical, powerful, or strong.”
“I began shaving in the seventh grade when I started noticing and becoming self-conscious of other girls in gym class who had hairless legs. This was around the same time in my life where my mother would point out how dark my Italian hair was getting. We would do a sort of ‘bonding’ in the bathroom where she would help Nair my arms, and we would take trips to the nail salon where a lady would stand over me and rip off all the hair on my face. So, naturally, the next step was to move on to a bigger part of my body: my legs.
When I first started, it was very exciting. This was finally something adults do. It made me feel mature. I would shave faster than the hair could grow back. Now, it feels more like a chore. I want something more permanent than a razor, but less painful than a wax. Hair removal creams also don’t seem to fully remove the hair, plus the smell is not worth it. All of these methods are expensive, too. I’m waiting to become rich so I can afford laser hair removal procedures.”
“The first time I shaved was pure terror. Never again. I became lightheaded in the shower and was like, ‘This not for me.'”
“I began to shave because I hated having hair on my legs, and I had an older sister who was shaving at the time so I kind of wanted to be like her. I personally like shaving because I like feeling smooth afterwards, and getting into bed after shaving is the best feeling because my legs feel so smooth; also, it feels kind of therapeutic.”
“My relationship with shaving is a habitual one. It’s just ‘what girls did’ when I was growing up – no questions asked. It wasn’t if you were going to start to shave, but when you were going to start to shave. It’s a drag. I hate to shave and only do it in the Spring and Summer, when the weather is warm and I’m wearing shorts or a skirt. Like I said, it’s a habit.”
“I began shaving in sixth grade, and I started because I saw older women, mostly my mom, doing it, and I just assumed that’s what you did as you got older, and I wanted to feel more adult so I did. I didn’t do it because I felt the need to, more because I thought it was what was expected to do.
I have a love-hate relationship towards shaving. I enjoy how it feels, especially in the Summer, but it sucks to shave, especially in a dorm shower. I don’t mind having hairy legs at all, but I can’t go au naturel under my arms. I don’t know why it’s different, but it just is.”
“First time I shaved was the day of Homecoming when I was a freshman in high school. I remember it taking a superlong time because my body wasn’t used to it and there was a lot more hair than I was expecting.
I still don’t shave above my knees, largely in part because it just seems like a lot of work and my hair is blond so I figure no one could see it anyway, but as time has gone on I’ve gotten really self-conscious about that. When I’m wearing shorts or a dress I feel like people are staring at me, maybe thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, she doesn’t shave, she’s so gross,’ or ‘Her thighs look fat AND there’s hair on them,’ and it makes me really sad. I know I just put those thoughts in my head and there’s a way to change them which would be to just shave up there too, but it kinda freaks me out and also just seems so unnecessary. I don’t know! Hopefully I’ll figure this one out soon.”