Giving up on Shaving Doesn't Mean You're Giving up on Yourself

How giving up the focus on the razor changed my life and the way I think about relationships

Giving up on Shaving Doesn't Mean You're Giving up on Yourself

Why Do We Shave?

Ever since I started growing hair anywhere other than my head, I've been shaving it off, or waxing it off, creaming it off, threading it off, basically trying anything that would keep those nasty hairs away. I bloomed early so my razor journey started when I was around eleven. I didn't understand why I felt this need to get rid of the hair, it was instinctual. Of course now I understand that it mostly had to do with the fact that I had access to a television. Every Saturday when I sat down to my cartoons on Milkshake, Channel 5, the advert breaks would bring with them countless beautiful women gliding pink razors up their legs and then stroking their perfect, blemish and cellulite free legs, ohing and ahing at the silky smoothness. So, it was obvious that female hair, unless growing luxuriously atop your head and flowing down ones back in a seductive manner, just wasn't meant to be there.

The first experience I had that really cemented this idea, was on a school trip in France. I always hung out with boys more than girls. I preferred running and fighting than I did makeup and dolls. I was wearing a top with spaghetti straps because it was stupidly warm and I hadn't had time to shave before I left at 5am to catch the flight with everyone else. I was hanging out with the guys and I lifted my arms and chaos ensued. The relentless teasing, being called gorilla girl, it was all just too much. I rushed to my suitcase, got my trusty razor and 7 item helpful shaving kit and high tailed it to the shower to get rid of the eight or so hairs under both of my arms. I vowed that day I would never be caught out again.

I also started dating pretty young. I had my first 'serious' boyfriend when I was 13, an experience I think we're probably both still recovering from because neither of us was ready for that shit. The fact that I began to experiment sexually so young, as a mother of two now, scares the crap out of me. He very much expected me to shave. He was very focused on femininity, or at least his 14 year old boys view of it. Having seen the same adverts I had as a child in between Ed, Edd and Eddy, he was also under the impression that female body hair was unattractive and so I shaved, everything, meticulously. Being someone with sensitive skin this was always an issue. I couldn't just use any old razor oh no, this required precision and planning. I needed aloe vera gel, creams, scrunchy pom pom things that were supposed to exfoliate the skin before and after, several thousands of pounds no teenager has (so my mum had to foot the bill) to pay for all this. I became convinced that no boy would be interested in dating me or having any kind of relationship with me unless I stayed on top of this.

As I got older, this didn't change. I had boyfriends actually tell me the moment they felt the tiniest of scratchy patches on my legs or on my nether regions, it was time to shave and point blank refuse to engage in any sexual activity until it was done. Now if that's not going to give a girl a complex, I really don't know what is.

As anyone with a bit of common sense knows, this wasn't always the case. Females weren't expected to shave their body hair until the 1940s. For hundred of thousands of years we were walking around with hair wherever it naturally chose to grow and men were completely fine with that. Bloody good job too otherwise the human race would have been banjaxed before it really got going.

According to Adam Ruins Everything from truTV in his video, 'How Women Were Tricked Into Shaving Their Legs,' the real person we need to blame for all of this shaving nonsense, is none other than King Camp Gillete, inventor of Gillete razors, who in order to increase his profits, convinced women that they needed to shave through manipulative advertising which included pretty much the same thing it does today. Pretty, skinny women with big smiles telling females that if they do exactly what the advert says, they can be just like them some day. (**cough** Bulshit! **cough cough**

That's right ladies, all this seemingly never ending effort we go to was all concocted by a man, looking to line his pockets with our insecurities. It's a tale as old as time.

When things changed for me

The first time I became aware of the 'give up the razors' movement was when I came across a YouTube video in 2017 from This Morning, on whether or not women should be shaving their body hair. I remember watching it with my then partner and as he complained that this was all some feminazi propaganda designed to teach women that they should do anything and everything that even remotely resembles being down with the so called patriarchy, I nodded my head and pretended to listen. Life had by this point taught me that the quote, 'I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute,' from author Rebecca West was so apt it was painful, and therefore I said nothing. I watched and I listened to this woman who to me was a pillar of bravery and I felt the cogs begin to turn in my mind.

It would be another year before I was brave enough to take the plunge myself and wave bye bye to the revolving door of razors. Looking back, it wasn't even a conscious decision. A seed had been planted in my mind and as it grew it undid a lifetimes worth of manipulation. I began to realise that the concept of shaving in order to attract a mate, was ridiculous. It's my body, my hair and maintenance simply wasn't worth the pay especially considering the amount of male sexual partners I've had actually capable of being able to give a woman the ultimate pleasure, was vastly outnumbered by the men incapable of it. Why was I spending all this time and effort on something that a greedy man who wanted to up his profits invented for his own benefit?

Cheery Bye Razors. Hello Body Hair.

In my next relationship, I had stopped shaving regularly. The time that lapsed between each shaving session became longer and longer and I became more and more comfortable with my body because I was embracing it and this actually made me sexier. My partner has never complained. He isn't expected to shave his body, why should I be expected to shave mine?

I do still occasionally shave, leaving my bath looking like Chewbacca came to stay the night, but now I do it because I want to, just like a man shaves his beard because he wants to. It isn't to impress anyone, sometimes I just like the change.

There still reigns the misconception in society today, that if a woman chooses to stop grooming her body hair to within an inch of her life, she has given up on herself. That she no longer cares about her physical appearance. She must be depressed or just insane. I'm here to tell you ladies that I have never felt more liberated. The extra time I have on a monthly basis alone made it all worth while. I still care about how I look, but my priorities are just different. I still dress up and put my makeup on when I go out out, like to dinner, not to the shops, but I do it because I have decided that is what I want to do for me. I haven't given up on myself, I am more myself, than I ever was.

Besides, it's 2020. What woman wants to do something just because some guy said she was supposed to?

Clara Elizabeth Hamilton Orr
Clara Elizabeth Hamilton Orr
Read next: The State
Clara Elizabeth Hamilton Orr

Writing has always been my greatest creative outlet. It is a way to pour all the passion, pain and joy of my life into something constructive and sometimes (I hope) exciting and even beautiful.

See all posts by Clara Elizabeth Hamilton Orr