Hair is steeped in symbolism and layered with subtext and meaning, especially for women. Our tresses speak volumes, suggesting to the world that we're wild, refined, high-maintenance or lazy. Hair can reveal our age and our ethnicity. And that's just the hair on our heads. For one woman, Laura Woodhouse (left), who posted today on UK feminist site The F Word, hair has become a reason to celebrate. One year ago today, Laura stopped shaving her armpits. (It's been 14 months since she last shaved her legs.) Woodhouse had some hair paranoia (hairanoia?) in the past. "I spent at least two hours defuzzing before visiting my boyfriend, and then spent the majority of the naked time we spent together worrying whether my bikini line was symmetrical, wincing where I'd irritated a bit of delicate skin with that nasty smelling hair removal cream," she writes. "I thought I was gross."
Then, last year, Woodhouse decided to "take the plunge" and stop shaving. It helps, we think, that she moved to Paris. It was difficult at first, Woodhouse claims. She thought her hairy pits were disgusting and couldn't look in the mirror.
But I chucked my razor away and persevered, wearing sleeveless tops on nights out and forcing myself to dance with my arms in the air. I got some funny looks, which amused me more than anything else, and eventually I grew to love my hairy armpits. I grew to love myself, to accept my grown woman's body and, more than anything, to love the freedom I discovered when I no longer had to waste time and money preparing my supposedly unacceptable body for the outside world.
Intellectually, we know she's right. Why should we be ashamed of all of the hair — armpits, legs, bikini area — that is a natural part of being a grown-up? Only kids and Barbie dolls have smooth, hairless skin. But are we brave enough to wear a sleeveless top without shaving? Not. A. Chance.
Hairy Anniversary [The F Word]