by Becca, 18-years-old
As a girl in high school, I will hear such phrases as “she has a bush” followed by endless, howling laughter at the table filled with boys in lacrosse garb and backwards snapbacks. The other girls at the table laugh along, blindly trained to hate the hair that is on their bodies. Their Sperry’s scrape across the cafeteria floor as they criticize the “nasty girl with a bush:”
“Shave that shit off! That’s NASTY! I would never touch that!”
There are many standards set for women, causing internal conflicts with body image.
Unfortunately, boys, I am not shaving anything for your approval. My choice whether or not to shave my legs is mine; I am not doing it to please. Your sexual standards are not mine to follow. I choose my own rules when it comes to my own anatomy—and if you feel that my body repulses you, I don’t want you coming anywhere near it.
A girl with body hair is now an untouchable—she has no sex appeal to the teenage boy (and now, the seemingly adult male) who accepts the porn industry’s child-like vagina as the norm. Women are trained to believe that one cannot embrace femininity without shaving. Young girls are taught that body hair is gross and “unladylike.” I can embrace my womanhood without embracing the social construct that makes my body hair seem unnatural. We are not hairless creatures, but we are forced to pretend that we are, in a society that turns away the idea of a woman who decides to go against the social standard.
I am just as much of a woman even though I don’t shave my armpits or any other part of my body. I still have everything that makes me a woman. I love to embrace my femininity, I look forward to wearing dresses and pink and frills; I just don’t use a razor. This does not somehow transform me into a man. I still have the same vagina and breasts. I still have every single part of me that makes me a woman.
When breaking social barriers in a high school, I have learned to expect the glares and laughter in the hallways. Even from your best friends, who may agree with you in the privacy of your bedroom, but not in the open air of a high school with everyone watching and judging.
Nothing is private in the yellowing classrooms. Any piece of information can be spread through twitter and iMessage in 20 seconds. And for someone to know that you consider yourself a feminist? Why not drop out of school.
I am done obeying ideology that oversexualizes my body and forces me to confine to the rules of a man-made construct. My body should be policed by me, myself, and I—I should not be subject to glares, stares, and cutthroat phrases while walking down the street.
What I do should not be up for your commentary. I shouldn’t be forced to hear harsh words through tough Boston accents criticizing my anatomical choices. I’m challenging gender. We live in a world where young boys and girls are told what to do and what not to do, what makes you a woman or man and what does not.
My choice not to shave is a choice to show what we have and what we are forced to hate. We are told to pretend that our hair is not there, and that it is an unnatural phenomenon to have it. It is my choice not to shave and makes me no less feminine than I was before. It is a symbol of what I am and what I will never be. Hair is not an offensive thing, nor should it be. It is simple: your body is yours. Every choice is your choice to make. Your body is in your control. The pressure of our culture can be overpowered. I push no negativity on others and expect no negativity back.
Becca is eighteen years old and lives in a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts (but hopefully not for much longer). She spends her time adventuring with her friends, perfecting her Spotify library, and fantasizing about living her life in Denmark.