6.5 Editor's Pick
December 14, 2019

Body Hair is Erotic. Body Hair is Sexy as Hell.

A little less than a year ago, I had an experience regarding my body hair while hooking up with a man I was deeply attracted to.

We were making out, but when he touched my legs, he froze.

He said, “Ahh, I can’t. I was prepping myself for your hair, saying ‘I can do it,’ but you just have so much more hair than I thought you did. I mean, I support you in doing this, but when I touch your legs I feel like my masculinity is in question.”

My initial reaction was fiery anger at the fact that the simple existence of my hair felt emasculating to him and made me “un-feminine” in his eyes. As angry bubbles softened to a steady simmer, an ancient pain of feeling unlovable and unattractive for who I am revealed itself.

As a pansexual woman, this interaction reminded me of why I always feel safer having body hair in intimate encounters with women or gender non-binary individuals. Even if the person I’m with does shave, they have experienced similar bodily pressures and know that women have hair. And secondly, they’re queer if they’re with me, and there is a safety that comes with queerness, a safety of knowing just by virtue of engaging intimately with one another we are defying some norm, we are removing a part of the mask, letting each other into our secret worlds of desire, shame, joy, and feeling—two secret worlds where hair is always allowed.

So it would be easy to simply chastise this boy for not embracing my leg hair, write it off as a one-time thing. And while I know I don’t deserve anything less than someone who loves and leans into every inch of my leg hair, the fact is that this repulsion of female body hair is the case for most men, specifically when it comes to women with full-grown leg hair.

Following this unfulfilling sexual encounter, I called a trusted male friend of mine who confirmed that he fully supports me in growing out my leg hair and understands the act as a strong message to “not sexualize the female body.”

And, in part, I agree with him. But to “not sexualize the female body” is a mere fraction of what this movement is about. In fact, a core piece of the message rests in reframing what we think of as sexy and reframing body hair to be sexy.

Beneath my own pain of feeling small and misunderstood from a negative reaction to my hair, I unearthed a profound sadness for the restrictive ways boys are socialized from a young age onward that mold them into men who find leg hair atrocious, disgusting, and nothing short of an abomination. The way this culture is constructed primes men to uphold the very patriarchal norms that so many of us, and also so many of them, intend to invert.

Overcome with a burning need to release my message out into the world, I decided to start a Youtube channel and create a video called “Eroticizing Female Body Hair (a Hairy Woman Shares her Hairstory),” which attracted a ton of attention. From men. Men who left an assortment of vulgar comments on how turned on they were by my hair.

With the publishing of that video, I encountered a liminal space. I do want female body hair to become a facet of beauty that is admired and considered sexy in a mainstream way, just not fetishized or overly sexualized as the female body is in media and reality today. I want to eroticize female body hair, but not for the male gaze.

If you are someone who identifies as male, I challenge you to simply observe your preferences around body hair. Notice what emotions arise when you begin to think about it—your own, that of other men, women, and gender non-binary people.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, erotic means “of, relating to, or tending to arouse sexual desire or excitement.” As a person who has struggled with layers of sexual shame and a need to be pure, good, and docile in the bedroom, I am intentionally using the word “erotic” to describe female body hair.

Shaving, for me, has always been particularly tied to sexual encounters—needing to have perfectly smooth legs to be considered hot or wanted by a partner. In our culture, there is an idea that hair is dirty—somehow unclean, impure, unprofessional, and definitely not erotic.

So I am putting the call out to eroticize female body hair.

I first and foremost want to eroticize female body hair for ourselves—girls, women, femmes, and others who feel gross having their body hair grown out, or who feel unclean, physically repulsed, disgusted, ugly, unattractive, and unlovable.

I want us to learn to love our hair shamelessly. I want us to break the shackles of fear-based hatred this society binds upon a human and their relationship with their body. I want us to feel truly empowered to choose whether or not we want to shave.

True body positivity means full acceptance of every body—every size, shape, color, ability, and amount of hair.

As each of us moves into deeper relationship with our own body, I envision the coming generation of children knowing intuitively that their body hair is erotic and how they choose to care for that hair is a decision that lies not in society’s hands, but in the root of each child’s belly.

Read 5 Comments and Reply

author: Anna Ruth Hall

Image: @_minimalista / Instagram

Editor: Kelsey Michal