Female body hair, peach fuzz whatever you want to call it is the bane of most womens lives especially mine; shaving, waxing, threading, sugaring, a host of hair removal creams, epilators, lazers and electrolosis the list goes on! Body hair has definitely been an issue for me having fair skin and very dark thick hair I want it gone gone gone! I remember a particular occassion when I was around 9 years old on my way to a swimming class. My body had hair EVERYWHERE ( I was indeed an early developer) I had more hair on my legs than all the kids in school put together! There I was in my swimming costume looking like chewbacca. Traumatised for life I never went back.
However why was I so traumatised? What is wrong with female body hair, it's natural, and we all have it so why did I feel so ashamed and humiliated? In order to challenge this I look a little in to the history of female body hair removal and celebs who are going against the grain and leaving it all on show.
Cavewomen & men
It's believed that cavewomen & cavemen were the first to remove body hair, they however shaved not due to vanity but for safety reasons, so during fighting and battles their opponents had nothing to grab hold of.
Ancient Egyptian men and women removed all their body hair, except their eyebrows. The absence of body hair represented cleanliness & beauty.
Again the lack of body hair represented cleanliness but was also a signifier of class, only for women though (not men 🙄) Wealthy women removed their body hair and if you didn't you were considered uncivilised!
Queen Elizabeth 1
Queen Elizabeth created the trend of grooming facial hair, i.e. shaped brows & no moustaches, however during this period ladies got to keep their leg and pubic hair.
Introducing Gilette, one of the largest razor brands. King Camp Gilette created the first safe razors for women.
In 1915, the first anti-underarm hair campaign was created, introducing the 'Milady Décolleté' razor (it was 14k gold-plated!) so another signifier of wealth and status.. The campaign stated 'the fastidious woman today must have immaculate underarms if she is to be unembarrassed' and with the changes in fashion such as sleeveless tops, summer dresses and shorter skirts this was seen as a must have. Although this is really the first time that fashion directly affected how women shave their body hair.
Porn, pop-culture & fashion
In the 80s & 90s, pornography & fashion photography often showed women with no pubic hair. The first salon offering a Brazilian Wax came about in 1987, with celebs such as Gwenyth Paltrow & Naomi Campbell visiting it & talking about it.
However coming up to the noughties we saw the return of body hair on Julia Roberts in 1999. While some reports claimed Roberts' hairy arms were because her then boyfriend Benjamin Bratt preferred the actress au naturel most regarded her body-hair reveal as one of two options either a beauty faux pas or as a feminist statement. However Roberts did not pass any comment at the time proving even further she really did not give a fuzz!
More recently celebrities have played a big part in this comeback story, as they embrace and normalize their body hair on the red carpet, in your Insta feed, and beyond for their millions of followers. One post, quote, or tweet can make a big difference—and if you were feeling bad about your current stubble situation, maybe seeing Rihanna's nonchalant attitude toward her leg hair or Cara Delevingne’s underarm hair will make you feel a little less so. Scroll on to see a few famous faces who DGAF about shaving.
Rhianna upoloading an insta post on holiday along with her unshaven legs front and centre.
Amandla Stenberg walking the red carpet revealed her under arm hair people nearly lost their collective minds. Chill as can be, she countered it in the most low-key way possible by posting a pic of it to Instagram with the caption "#drama #armpit how cool can you get?
"I never thought I would need armpit hair again after getting laser…I was wrong," Cara Delevingne decided to bring body hair back into the mix and very proudly might I add
The former Bachelor contestant Bekah Martinez shared this picture alongside the caption "I decided to work to overcome this insecurity. It’s not about 'not believing in shaving,' it’s about believing I AM BEAUTIFUL, ATTRACTIVE AND 'FEMININE' NO MATTER WHERE I HAVE HAIR ON MY BODY." she had always been insecure about her but when she fell pregnant decided to overcome it. If this post to millions of fans isn't facing your fear I don't know what is!
In real life, however, the sight of a woman in public with body hair remains rare, although norms are slowly changing (almost one in four women under 25 no longer shave their armpits, compared with just one in 20 in 2013, according to the market analyst Mintel) .
Continuing the theme of self love many women are taking a stand against the female expectations and beauty and trying to normalise body hair. One campaign that encourages this is Januhairy, an initiative started by students Laura Jackson and Ruby Jones in 2019, to go hairless for the month of January, be sponsored and raise money, all in all a great cause. The campaign hashtag has now attracted thousands of posts from women across the world and many women have feel liberated by this.
I love the fact women are embracing taking back control, challenging beauty standards and making it far more acceptable to just live au naturel and normalising bodies as they are naturally.
We’re living in an age of heightened self-acceptance, self-love and self-appreciation. Your stretch marks are stunning. Your cellulite is cute. Your freckles are fantastic. These are not some weird affliction, they’re just natural and because of that, they should be celebrated.
However and here it comes.... I could not dream of anything worse ... on ME, I hate shaving and my body hair grows super fast. I could shave at 7am and be as smooth as a baby’s bum but by midday see stubble and I don’t like it. Does this make me a hypocrite? Am I a phoney for shaving every single bit of hair the minute I see or feel it after having been so motivated and enthused by the cause? The very second the sun comes out, or I put a dress on, out come the razor and foam. Despite the fact inwardly I wholeheartedly agree that we should embrace our natural bodies and not worry about stubble, peach fuzz or side burns, and celebrate the skin we are in am I an imposter by talking the talk but not walking the walk (with very hairy legs)?
Well if you like me agree with all the reasons behind it but can’t quite commit and find the idea of rocking up to work in a pencil dress, high heels with a side of hairy legs a tad awks don’t feel too bad. It is difficult to unlearn what you've been taught from a young age so if being hair-free makes you feel great rock on, alternatively if you are nurturing the au naturel look equally, go you.
In short to shave of not to shave it’s up to you.