As Featured on News Cult: The Politics of Body Hair: Let’s Discuss


It’s interesting how our culture politicizes even the most natural parts of humanity. Whether that’s pregnancy, sexuality, skin color or body hair, I’m not sure how or why things got that way–where every bit of a person’s body is open for scrutinization and up for interpretation–but they did, and we can’t escape it. I want to talk about the politics of body hair because I’m just fascinated by the fact that it’s such a small, minor, normal thing, yet has huge sociocultural and gendered implications.

First of all, we can all agree that body hair is natural. People can’t control their body hair–its thickness, texture, where it grows, how much of it grows, its color–any more than they can control how tall they are, or what gender they are born, or how much they eat. And obviously it serves some sort of evolutionary biological purpose. I don’t know, maybe eyelashes are supposed to protect your eyes from raindrops, or dust, or the end of a blow job. And maybe leg hair is supposed to be a shield against poison ivy, or any prospective suitors. Whatever it is, body hair is there for a reason. So it’s interesting that we insist on grooming and removing and waxing and shaving and cutting and molding it into something different–something unnatural.

Is that just because society decided somewhere along the way that certain styles and types of body hair are socially acceptable and others aren’t? It has to be, right? Body hair trends have changed over time in a way that only subjective, societally dictated trends can. Like in the 70s bush was all the rage, but now if you don’t get a Brazilian every 3 weeks you’re basically a leper.  God forbid you don’t shave your legs, or armpits–hairy arms? You should be quarantined! But noticing a trend here? Let me help you I AM–these rules generally only apply to FEMALES. What a SURPRISE. Sociocultural norms that oppressively define women? No way–get outta here! That can’t be!

Like, what else is new. It’s fairly straightforward–female body hair must look a certain way for women to be viewed as sexually attractive. And the times dictate what those ways are–it may have been bush in the 70s, and now it’s bare. But either way, the trends are female-centric and female-dominating. Sure, men may generally be looked at as kind of gross if they have a super hairy back. But in the heterosexual paradigm, men are allowed to have hairy legs, arms, armpits, even chests, and still be considered attractive. And body hair isn’t just acceptable for men, it’s encouraged. Especially facial hair. For example, beards on men are often considered a plus, especially in this age of Hipster invasion. If you’re a woman with a beard, though, or a moustache, then you’re not seen as a woman. You aren’t feminine enough, and therefore you aren’t sexy enough.

So you have to get to work to remove it. Make it nice and pretty, put a fucking bow on it, and then, and only then, can you be welcomed back into the physically attractive females club. And as much as I’d like to say I’m a warrior who fights this sexist hair removal mandate, I totally buy into it. But only for the sake of others. If I’m not having sex with or dating anyone, or wearing shorts or 3/4 leggings or a tank top, I don’t shave my legs or armpits, bleach my Greek moustache, put any effort into styling the hair on my head, or get a bikini wax. Because frankly I don’t give a damn when it’s just me. But if I’m having sex with or dating someone, or wearing clothes that show my legs or armpits, I shave and wax and groom and trim and bleach and blow dry. And it takes so. much. effort. Like, every time I shave my legs it’s such a feat that I feel like I never have to do it again. And then two hours later I’ve already got stubble.

And sure, there are exceptions to this–some men don’t care about female body hair, if not actually prefer more of it. But if I were a betting man, I’d say those guys are in the minority. And yet, I don’t have a solution. Besides openly defying the pressure to meet body hair standards. And the trade off there is then that you don’t get to partake in things that attractive/hairless people partake in–dating, having sex, being socially accepted. Which actually we don’t really care that much about anyways, so maybe we do just need to say fuck it–and let it grow. Because if someone isn’t going to want to be with us because of our body hair, they probably aren’t worth being with anyways.

So here’s my challenge to anyone, especially any women, reading this: think about why you groom your body hair the way you do. And if you come to the conclusion that it’s primarily because of external influences, stop doing it. Instead, do what naturally feels right and comfortable to you. And embrace that. Everything else will fall into place where it should when you accept yourself. Your TRUE self–which may be messy, hairy, and generally just not that put together–but you should love it anyways–and because of all of those things. And whoever you surround yourself with should love you despite and because of all those things too. Call me radical, unrealistic, weird, whatever–if you don’t like it, you can kiss my hairy, but empowered and self-loving, ass.

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