To the Man who “Doesn’t Like Body Hair.”

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I am done with my body being a site for people-pleasing.

Shaving.
Losing weight.
Gaining weight.
Running to the far end of town.
Using my mouth to satisfy.
Using my ears to listen to empty, egoic words.

For all my life, my body has belonged just as much to others as to myself—just as much to society as to myself—and you will never know what that feels like: to have the most rudimentary evidence of your own existence belong to someone else.

No wonder my protests catch in my throat. No wonder I pave conversations with attempts at pleasing. When my own body doesn’t belong to me, how can I trust that anything else does?

The simplicity of your relationship to your body feels beautiful and naive. It is your tool to use, to groom, to train. Your bodily decisions are as barren of repercussion as “whole wheat or rye?” A freedom I can’t imagine.

So when you ask me, “Why do you shave your pussy?” and expect a simple answer, that expectation creates a chasm between us. I will not compress the totality of my experience into a sugar pill that you can swallow.

I’ve heard:

“You’re selfish not to shave.”
“Why do you shave your pussy? I love body hair.”
“I love women totally shaved. I’ve got enough body hair for the both of us.”

Your preferences are invalid. You have no idea the plagues of men this body has defended against, pleased, bent for, bowed for, shaped its very form for. So while you recline on your bar stool and tongue the olive from your martini and tell me that you “don’t like body hair,” my oceans of experience billow before me in a seething black storm.

And it’s not just you. It’s not just “men like you.” The man who smelled of lavender, who held me tenderly, who spoke like poetry, also asked me, “Why do you shave? Why would you get rid of your you-ness?”

So simple to him: why conform to the patriarchy when you don’t have to? So simple to buck the trend, apparently, as I lay beside him bare as a baby.

Inside, I screamed:

Do you know how many years this body has been trained to seek your casual approval?

How many times I counted out my noodles on the countertop, ran until my knees rattled in their sockets, tied back my hair and retched into the toilet?

Do you understand the series of men, strangers, family, and lovers who narrow their eyes at passing women, commenting crudely on their sizes?

Can you imagine how my body shimmered with gold the first time I walked into a bar and felt a speck, a scrap, of power, as men’s eyes turned to look, finally, subtly saying, “You passed our test”?

How after years, it finally felt like my hard work “paid off,” and now another, more private part of my body is being offered up for your interpretation?

How can my body be a tool for the actualization of my own desires when it’s so damn exhausted from pleasing everyone else?

Tell me: what’s next?

My blood?

My bones?

What is left?

What is mine?

What is mine?

~

author: Hailey Magee

Image: Courtesy of Donna Vatnick

Editor: Nicole Cameron

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Hailey Magee

Hailey Magee is a Trailblazer Coach, writer, and digital nomad. She envisions a world where trailblazers are empowered to explore uncharted territory and unfurl a world of possibility—professionally, emotionally, spiritually, and more—to people everywhere. After spending her first 21 years robotically climbing a narrow ladder in the hope of achieving “success,” Hailey jumped ship and made a new track through uncharted territory, embracing sobriety, spirituality, digital nomadhood, self-employment, and intuitive decision-making. She became a Trailblazer Coach to to help others release their inner trailblazers and create the lives of their dreams. She has worked with over 100 clients of all ages across the United States and Canada. Learn more at her website.

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Vinay Nagyal Aug 17, 2018 3:54pm

It is your body, it is your call. As it is for men who can epilate for comfort without being judged.

Jesse Enriquez Aug 11, 2018 6:04pm

It's all yours, quit being such a follower

Hailey Magee Aug 9, 2018 1:35pm

Sarah Jane Davidson thank you BACK! Sending that energy right back your way <3

Sarah Jane Davidson Aug 9, 2018 7:25am

I send you Loving Light Filled Positive Healing Energies your way 💖💥💖💫💖

Sarah Jane Davidson Aug 9, 2018 7:24am

Thank you as someone who has also experienced this I am grateful for your honesty

Hailey Magee Aug 5, 2018 5:41pm

I'm loving the stories being shared in these comments. It's affirming to know that this struggle has been weathered by so many folks of all genders!

Hailey Magee Aug 4, 2018 3:36pm

Rock on, Nikki. Thank you for reading. <3

Hailey Magee Aug 4, 2018 3:35pm

Rigel, your words are so powerful. "I felt like my body was not my own and I was doing some kind of "life style maintenance" everytime I shaved. I also experienced just like you did, my past partners sublimanilly and/or boldly planting seeds of "acceptable beauty standards" in my head." That captures it beautifully. What an awful feeling, to feel like our bodies are not ours to love and to own! I ADORE that you've come to the place of "living freely and comfortably with your humanity." Thank you for sharing <3

Nikki Dalo Aug 4, 2018 2:23pm

Your words are extremely poignant. Thank you for being brave and sharing them. I know exactly how you feel.

Rigel Angelina Tais Aug 4, 2018 7:57am

I stopped shaving many many many moons ago because I was tired of the upkeep and I began to ask myself -- For whom am I doing this for? For people I don't know? Strangers? Society? Maybe they'll judge me, maybe they wont? Do I care? Why does this define my feminity? Why does this define who I am? They won't even remember me by tomorrow? So for whom am I shaving? For them? For me? No! Certainly I was not doing this for myself. So I put the razor down and realized by doing this I would save my valuable time, my hard earned money and create less waste in our environment for this planet I love so much and call my home. On occassion I do removed my leg hair becuase it's hot and I fucking feel like it.... and honestly doing what works for me/you/my sisters out there in the world struggling with this bullcaca of "how to be woman" -- is perfectly and totally ok to do whatever you want with your body hair if it makes you comfortable with who you are and how you want to be, whether you sport the hair or hairless. I see it like hair styling these days. Do what feels right by you at the present moment, and not for "them" out there in the world, whoever "them" are. It's no others persons business what you do with your body. It's your body and your business. My inspiration came from the same place as you dear Hailey. I felt like my body was not my own and I was doing some kind of "life style maintenance" everytime I shaved. I also experienced just like you did, my past partners sublimanilly and/or boldly planting seeds of "acceptable beauty standards" in my head. When I didn't meet those expectation I was so confused and hurt, and all of the sudden I was "gross" and "unlovable" to them. Years later I see the problem isn't my body hair, it's them letting themselves be conditioned by societies gender rolls, and not capable of loving me as a whole and as who I am which is way more important then some little patches of hair on my body. Today I live freely and comfortably with my humanity, and when I receive comments from dudes/chicks about my hair under my arms/bikini/legs/body I simply and calmly say: "Body hair is human, not man nor woman. I'm human. You are human. We are all human." Thank you for your article Hailey! I soooo look forward to reading more from you. Sending you and everyone on here peace, love, and light.

Hailey Magee Aug 4, 2018 3:46am

Susan, your words struck me right to the core. "... I just did the right thing for the wrong reason. I always was worth the effort, I am worth it, I will always be worth it." Thanks for sharing your powerful story. I relate to it deeply. Power to you!

Susan Hockstein Aug 3, 2018 10:06pm

Wow!!!!! After being over 400lbs my entire adult life then losing 200 by diet and exercise this article hit me in the face like a frying pan. All I wanted was to be accepted, allowed to live in this world without being treated like I was less because I was "more". Having gone through such an extreme transformation I couldnt believe I did all of it for "them". The dad bod guys who take off their wedding rings to hook up at bars on ladies night under the guise of "working late". The snobby PTA moms who smile and exchange glances with wide eyes that speak volumes without saying a word. I could go on and on and on. I am happier and healthier than Ive ever been now, I just did the right thing for the wrong reason. I always was worth the effort, I am worth it, I will always be worth it. Thank you for your article💯💯💯

Hailey Magee Aug 3, 2018 8:34pm

Thanks or the kind words, Sarah! :D

Hailey Magee Aug 3, 2018 8:34pm

Rock on! Thank you Caren! :)

Hailey Magee Aug 3, 2018 8:34pm

Means a lot - thank you Marjorie!

Azile Bbor Aug 3, 2018 7:35pm

So refreshing to hear this, thanks!

Caren Rounthwaite Aug 3, 2018 7:21pm

So very right on! Thank you for saying so clearly what I and most women have endured.

Marjorie Robertson Aug 3, 2018 6:00pm

Wonderfully written. Thank you!

Leslie Morrell Aug 3, 2018 4:40pm

Thanks for telling the truth about the shaving of one's genital area and the discomfort of it. Wonderful to hear it from a man who tried it!!! Thanks!

Hailey Magee Aug 3, 2018 3:35pm

The "shave, don't shave" nonsense is definitely nonsense! So many choices to make, and there's NOTHING worse than feeling like you have to swallow that "culturally determined pill" you mentioned. Sounds like you've found the way that works best for you. Rock on, sister!

Hailey Magee Aug 3, 2018 3:34pm

Ain't it the truth? There are so many ways to manage our bodies - nothing is worse than feeling like you "have to" do something to "fit in" or please others! Thanks for sharing your story, Ron!

Hailey Magee Aug 3, 2018 3:33pm

Rock on to you, too! Thanks for your words Vicki - now I'm smiling at my desk, too! :D I send out all my writings through my website, HaileyMagee.com, if you want to read more!

Ron Laswell Aug 3, 2018 2:32pm

Back in the early 1970s, a former female friend and I shaved our "private parts." Ouch! Worst mistake we ever made! Those pubic hairs serve as a dry lubricant, without it there is a lot of friction that leaves chapped skin. Then, as the hair grows back in it causes more frictional irritation. For about 2 weeks we had infrequent sex because it was too damn uncomfortable!

Vicki Bielfeldt Aug 3, 2018 2:29pm

This. Absolutely PLEASE write more. What a voice! I was practically cheering at my desk. Rock on, sister.

Leslie Morrell Aug 3, 2018 2:06pm

I have fought with the shave, don't shave nonsense since I was in my 20's. Up until then, I swallowed the culturally determined pill that women's legs and armpits were to be removed of hair...then there was the irritating issue of bikini line and irritating it was...shave and you itch like crazy, or I did. I've grown the leg hair in several times over the course of my 62 years. I actually kind of like the feel of the breeze through it...that said, I obviously am not lightly furred. I've long wondered why women were willing to grow hedges of hair under their armpits and then go and shave their legs. Made no sense to me...if you're shaving, shave what accumulates sweat and smells kinda funky after a bit. The shaved legs are a relatively "new" invention (though I also have been made aware that hair removal was being practiced hundreds of years ago by some) and also rather culturally determined. Even knowing all that and reciting it to myself, the pressure of cultural conformity would send me in search of the razor the "hack down Sherwood Forest" and again begin the tedious maintanence of hair-free legs. I always maintained hair-free 'pits and eventually the hair just quit growing there, not so with my legs. Stil a very heavy "crop" which I have again stopped shaving...tis time, hopefully, or the last time.Brazilian wax...are you fuckin kidding me? I cannot for the life of me imagine why I would willingly submit to having hot wax applied to a snstive area only to have hair ripped out...no, a thousand times, NO! Hair serves a useful purpose.Seriously!