ABSOLUTELY NOT – Tamara Corin, SL Contributor
In a word, no. Like, never. I’m not going to beat around the bush (no pun intended!) but the idea of growing my body hair until it reaches braid-worthy length, I find rather vile, almost dirty and quite lazy too. This may sound a strong opinion, but I believe body hair on women should be removed. Kaboom. Gone forever. There’s nothing attractive about a hairy armpit, or bikini line hair sticking out of your knickers.
Like everything in life, people use the weather as an excuse not to remove their body hair. It’s cold outdoors so the extra hair is weirdly viewed as a form of insulation, like animal fur. Come on ladies, take yourself to Marks and buy some thermal layers instead. You’re not a dog.
Winter is my favourite season – mainly because of my love of opaque tights – yet unlike some, I don’t use this as an excuse not to shave, wax, laser, pluck etc. Yes, from September through to May my armpits and legs are well and truly covered outdoors, but indoors, they’re not. And at the gym I have some flesh on display all year round – but only the parts that don’t wobble! Why would anyone, including myself, want to see my bodily hair grow long enough to compete with Rapunzel?
Of course, hair removal is nothing new. Women in ancient Egypt got rid of every last hair, including those on their heads. It seems this beauty ritual has never lost its firm footing in the world of beauty – or society. So why question it now?
I grew up in a household with four other females. Immac (now called Veet) played a regular part in our beauty routines, alongside The Body Shop Cucumber Water, of course. Hair removal was a done thing. Neither my sisters nor I questioned the fact that when we reached puberty, we removed our body hair. Just like our cleanse, tone, moisturise skincare rule, hair removal was part of growing up and becoming a woman.
Fortunately I’m quite fair, so I’ve never had much body hair to remove, however there’s still sufficient supply that is beauty salon wax-worthy. And contrary to what my husband thinks, this is no excuse for a pamper. Hair removal is painful, like really painful. I’ve once had to balance my baby while having a Brazilian – this takes some skill and gritted teeth. Yet the prospect of pain has never made me skip my monthly scheduled waxing appointment.
For me, it comes down to grooming. When I have freshly polished nails or a bouncy blow-dry, I feel more finished, more feminine and somehow cleaner, too. This is exactly the exhilaration I feel when I’m hair-free. I feel lighter, more attractive and younger (though the latter is probably due to a Hollywood!)
Is this a narrow and outdated view of beauty for women? Perhaps. Yet in a world where men can grow beards, moustaches and rock up anywhere in their natural hairy state and us women have to leave an entire morning or afternoon to be stripped to perfection for beach holidays, giving birth or for a rare weekend away with our partner, there’s obviously a double standard between men and women when it comes to body hair. So I’m sure with the continuous rise of feminism they’ll be more women signing up for not just Januhairy, but Febuhairy and Marchairy too.
I’m all for New Year resolutions, but whoever coined Januhairy must be one very hairy soul. And I’m guessing a man too!
WHY NOT? – Heather Steele, Lifestyle Editor
I wouldn’t say I’ve embraced Januhairy exactly – I didn’t actually read about it until a few days into the year when I’d already shaved my legs – but I’m certainly not repulsed by it either. When it comes to waxing and plucking, I take a rather relaxed approach. Like getting regular manicures or heading out for a fake tan, I’m happy for others to do what they like – it’s just not for me.
Take eyebrows (thank you, Cara Delevigne, for bringing the full brow back into the mainstream) I believe most body hair looks best au natural. Perhaps I’m lazy, but if there’s no one to see my stubbly legs or armpits, I’m not going to lose any sleep over the state of them. I’m certainly not going to wake ten minutes earlier to give my pins a once-over, just to cover them in clothes.
Frankly I have enough to worry about: I’d rather spend a free half an hour after work in the gym than in the waxer’s chair and I don’t fancy dedicating my weekends to getting my bumhole waxed or gaining ingrown hairs. Not getting it done professionally also saves me a ton of money. Given the average Brazilian costs around £25 a pop, monthly sessions would set me back £300 a year – and that doesn’t include eyebrow threading or leg hair removal. I’d rather have a weekend away.
I do sometimes consider my boyfriend and defuzz accordingly, but as he grew up in the 80s – away from the prevailing pre-pubescent porn look these days – he claims he’s not bothered by a bit of hair. Watching Inherent Vice recently, we both found Katherine Waterston’s character, and her full 70s bush, the coolest thing about the film. Unless he says otherwise, I’ll continue to pick and choose what I want to do, without fear of judgement.
Perhaps it’s this newfound lack of fear which informs my apparent laziness. At the age of 11, I was nicknamed ‘gorilla girl’ for being the one kid in class not to shave the barely-there hair from my legs. What swiftly followed was a removal system which involved Immac (yep, I’m from the pre-Veet era like Tamara), disposable Bic razors and – sadly, when I look back now – shaving my arms which were also deemed too hairy. Of course, my arm hair grew back thicker and longer than before and I never did it again. Yet the fact it was considered unacceptable to be natural even before my teenage years, struck a chord and makes me want to rebel.
Perhaps there are more of us rebelling than it seems. A 2013 study showed 51% of 1,870 women who answered an online pharmacy poll by UK Medix did not “style or groom their pubic hair” with 45% admitting they can “no longer be bothered to keep up the grooming” and 62% revealing their partner “prefers the natural look”. I might not always be meticulous, but immaculate pubic grooming led to one of my favourite memories on a recent holiday, when a friend was caught in a compromising position – mid-Veet – when our Airbnb cleaner turned up an hour early.
I’m not saying I never shave my legs (like a man with his facial hair, sometimes it’s there, sometimes it isn’t) I just don’t fret if I’ve neglected to do it for a week (or, ahem, longer). I’m also guilty of having a quick tidy-up before heading to the beach or pool (perhaps scarred for life by that Miranda scene in Sex & The City). But if I see a hirsute armpit out in the wild or an unsmooth pair on legs on the street, I’m certainly not going to recoil in horror. Rather I feel a sense of admiration. After all, chances are mine look very similar under my pair of tights…