The big bush brigade!

This is a pretty long post, so save this link until you have the time to sit and read/watch I promise it will be worth it!

“Sometimes I just think we need permission to stop, don’t we?
Don’t you sometimes feel that, unless someone says it’s ok to stop, you just carry on?”
Lindsey Winson

Candid.
Frank.
Controversial.
Radical.
These are all pretty good words to describe what i’m going to talk about!
Before I go on, I want to say that the purpose of this article is certainly not to ‘have a go’ at women who choose to remove their body hair.
No way!
I am here to talk about why we feel the need to.
And to hopefully help some women to come to accept themselves and love their bodies a little more.
A lot more.
I am here, baring all, putting myself out there and giving my views on things.

Female body hair.

Yikes, this is a hot topic right!?
I opened up a conversation on Facebook and the amount of responses I received were a challenge to keep up with!
Once the flood gates had been opened on this subject, the opinions came pouring through.
Regardless of whether I agreed with anyone’s opinion or not… I loved it!
It means that people want to talk about it, and that is the first step in opening people’s minds and encouraging them to think about something that often gets lost in the everyday ‘normalities’ of societies expectations and social acceptance.
Self acceptance too.

Many people know that women in history never religiously removed their body hair.
The ‘trend’ was born a little over 100 years ago in 1915 when Gillette, the huge razor company, decided they would like to make more money… but there were only so many men in the world who wanted to ‘smarten up’ their facial hair and buy one.
‘Aha!’ the light-bulb moment… ‘If we make women feel like they shouldn’t be growing body hair, we will double our sales!’

first razor ad

Even though this is widely known… both men and women still succumb to these ideals.
Ideals that were completely made up, with the sole purpose of taking our money!
Sure, we accept it though.
Sacrificing our money, time, conveniences and often even our own comfort just to conform to a huge company’s elaborate lie.
A lie that the vast majority of us actuallyΒ know is a lie.

So what’s the deal?
Why do we do this to ourselves?
How on earth did they manage to pull off such a perfectly orchestrated hoax on such a monumental scale?
A hoax that forced the entire of our society to completely change their biological urges and switch up what we find attractive in a partner?

hairy mag

One of the things that kept coming up when I asked everyone about it, was smell.
Funnily enough, some said that they believed armpits would be smellier if the hair was left to grow, while others said that when they had long armpit hair, they didn’t smell!
Someone even said that she smelled more when she removed the hair and didn’t notice a smell when she left it to grow.
A total contradiction of opinion, and it made me wonder why – those who had never let their hair grow – assumed it would be smellier?
Is it something else society has drummed into our heads without us realising?
The term ‘dirty hippy’ springs to mind…

Another thing that surprised me was that no one mentioned men when talking about smell.
Men, in general, have armpit hair.
The majority of men smell perfectly fine!
Of course there are a few with poor personal hygiene, much the same as women, but those who wash usually smell acceptable!
So why would women suddenly smell if they chose to keep their natural body hair?
Think about it.

Stemming on from this, a lot of women said they feel cleaner when they remove their body hair.
I get that!
I guess I would have done too, if it weren’t for the pain I feel when I remove my hair – but i’ll get onto that in a minute!
But surely cleanliness doesn’t come from removing body hair, it comes from cleaning yourself?
You wouldn’t feel ‘cleaner’ by chopping your fingernails off or shaving your head right?
Women are ‘supposed to have’ long fingernails, but we all know that dirt gets trapped under them daily, it’s not all that hygienic really.
Women are ‘supposed’ to have long hair, that is seen as feminine, but we know that hair also traps dirt and gets grubby, I don’t see women, who worry about the cleanliness of having body hair, shaving their heads to ‘feel cleaner’.
That mindset just doesn’t add up to me…

I asked those who had children, how they would feel (or felt) when their children started talking about body hair removal.
Most people said that they wouldn’t encourage it, but would be respectful of their child’s choice to do so.
It made me wonder if they thought a child’s choice would be fully their own and not one cultivated by their peers, and every image of women on TV, in adverts, on cartoons and in everyday life?
This was when women started sharing their heartbreaking stories of bullying in schools, which prompted them to beg their parents to buy them a razor.
So is any womens ‘choice’ to start removing body hair really theirs?
Did they suddenly start feeling ‘dirty’ one day?
Or where they told they were dirty?

I started a thread for the male opinion.
I let everyone know that they could message me privately if they felt uncomfortable revealing their opinion on the way females should look… and that was an eye opener in itself!
The majority of men – who said they didn’t mind very much, so long as their partner was happy – commented publicly on the thread.
The majority of men – who said that they found female body hair a turn off – chose to message me privately.
Not surprising really in light of the #metoo and #timesup campaigns.
Regardless of the responses from men, it was clear that these amazing campaigns are making a difference!
Men are starting to realise the impact their opinions on the female body has on women.
Even if the opinions in my messenger inbox were still against women having natural body hair, at least they chose to hide that opinion from other women to make sure no one got upset.
Progress…?

Let’s talk about pain.
This was split pretty equally among the women who removed their body hair.
Some could shave everyday with no problems.
Others told stories of painful rashes, itchiness and accidentally slicing their skin.
Those who didn’t shave either waxed or epilated.
It just seems absurd to me how society can make women feel like they have to spend ridiculous amounts of money, actually asking someone to spread hot wax on their skin, and literally rip out their body hair from the roots.
How is this not seen as self-mutilation?
Women hating the way their body looks so much, that they put themselves through horrible pain to feel better or be more acceptable to others?
Does this not seem awful to anyone else?

Again, I am certainly not directing this at anyone who chooses to remove body hair. Up until a few months ago, I spent the entirety of my adult life removing mine.
I can’t imagine how much money I spent on hair removal!
I was constantly in pain!
I was so desperate to have perfectly smooth legs, armpits and vajeebs that I put myself through torture, week after week, day after day!
Shaving was my go-to.
It would start hurting as soon as I came out of the shower.
I tried a million different kinds of shaving cremes, foams and lotions. Hundreds of brands of razor, ‘mens’ and ‘womens’. Electric shavers, sensitive razors, 5 bladed razors, single blade razors, razors with aloe vera on them. I tried dry shaving, wet shaving, shaving with talc on before, shaving with talc on after (pre vegan), using coconut oil, olive oil, after shaving balms, shampoo, conditioner, warm water, cold water and even after waxing lotions…
There was absolutely no way of shaving that didn’t instantly give me a hideous and painful rash.
I would scratch and scratch so much that it would bleed.
I tried, often, not to scratch, to ignore the pain and I would just end up in tears and being ratty with people.
I tried waxing, thinking if I could get through the pain of the act for the first few times, I would start getting used to it and the pain of waxing would diminish like everyone said it would.
Nope.
Don’t even bother trying to tell me that anymore ladies!
You don’t get used to that shiz!
Yowchie mama!!
I think I even heard my vajeebs scream!
Not to mention the appearance of the waxing rash, that was equally as itchy.
So… I tried the hair removal cream.
Oh lord.
Yes, yes… I bought the ‘sensitive skin’ one.
I also looked at the tube afterwards thinking I had missed the hidden words ‘Hair removal cream for those who want… sensitive skin.‘ cause man alive that stuff stings!
Then you actually have to use either what I can only describe as, a scrapey-chisel-from-hell, or an actual literal scouring pad to remove the, lets be honest, acid!
If that isn’t a recipe for burning rashy skin I don’t know what is!

Then, as if that wasn’t enough, after a week of full on scratch-bleed fun, vowing to myself I would never remove my hair again whilst simultaneously searching online for a better type of hair removal… I would have a 1 day window being pain free and feeling like I can conquer the universe before the new kind of itching started.
Oh yes.
The hair growth itch.
Ugh.
‘Damn you body hair gods!!’ I would curse to the heavens. ‘Why do you smite me so?? You hairless silky smooth cherub-like demons of my follicle based dreams!!’
I had some issues.

It’s only now that I have let my hair grow beyond the ‘social norm’, that I realise it was literally only that – hair growth itch.
After you get through the unnaturally prickly stage, the hair softens and you just don’t feel a damn thing.
It’s completely comfortable and you don’t even know it’s there!
The prickly, itchy feeling of freshly growing hair reinforces the idea that it’s not ‘supposed to be there’… making Gillette’s sales stunt, the perfect crime.
Much like the tobacco industry.
Thinking out loud- I’m not comparing removing body hair to addiction… or maybe I am.
Is it?
Lots of women in my survey said that they envy and applaud women who can embrace their natural hair and wish they felt comfortable enough to do it, but don’t feel like they ever could… which is what smokers say about non-smokers… *thoughtful emoji*

Smokers need cigarettes to feel relaxed and relieve stress.
As soon as they stop, they feel the desperate urge to have another because they become incredibly stressed. They jump straight back on the ciggys thinking ‘I’m just a smoker, it’s in my personality, I can’t be a non smoker.’
But actually, if they just got through that prickly, itchy stage… they would realise they don’t need cigarettes at all and it was the cigarettes that, in fact, made them feel more stressed.

It wasn’t until I discovered Lucy from Lulastic and the Hippyshake, that my thoughts on female body hair changed.
I was binge watching her videos on YouTube, longing to pack my things and drag my family to the wilderness, build a yurt and live off-grid.
Then a video about her armpit hair popped up.
‘Ooh! How European!’ I thought to myself, sitting in my house in Europe.
It absolutely captivated me.
What an inspiration!

“Shave or don’t shave, your body your choice.
But if you can bare it, if you dare to find out how liberating letting your hair grow can be, if you dare to do it… the world needs you.
The world’s girls need bravehearts who can forge ahead and make room for them to be however they wanna be in this fearful society.”
Lucy – Lulastic and the Hippyshake
lucy

Yes. Yes. YES!
Abso-bloody-lutely!
Your body, your choice is key – however, considering my past relationship with my body hair, I am going to be the first to say that removing my body hair was not my choice.
I did it though.
Anyone else looking on would say that I chose to remove my body hair.
Did I?
I’m not so sure.
‘Choosing’ to do something requires just that.
Choice.
Options.
I was a pre-pubescent teen looking at a world of hairless women.
I watched the world talk about hair removal solutions on TV and in coffee mornings from day zero.
It was a given.
Real women, were hairless.
At least those who wanted to be attractive.

veet

The only time I would ever see a hint of a woman with body hair was in funny movies. She was always purposefully hideous and the cool characters, the guys you would want to impress if your were in their class, would cower away, grossed out and giggling… cause that’s the only way to react to a woman with hair on her body.
It’s gross and funny.
So if I wanted to be accepted, not pointed at and laughed about, at the tender, vulnerable and impressionable age of 12, I only had one choice.
Which subsequently took any ‘choice’ away.
I was set up for almost 20 years of pain, inconvenience, and fear of someone noticing a stray hair, not to mention the expense.

I wonder how I would have felt if I had seen some, socially accepted, hairy women growing up?
Women in playparks, a few at the beach or swimming pool, some walking down the street, some in ads, profile pictures on Facebook, doing some shopping, playing the lead roll in a movie etc…
If it was a choice, really truly honestly a choice – shouldn’t there be more of them knockin’ about?
So many women, even those in my survey who said they felt ‘cleaner’ or just felt more comfortable removing their hair, so many of them said that it’s a bloody inconvenience.
That they hate how much time and effort it takes to keep on top of it all.
Given a choice, where absolutely no judgement was involved, would they really be bothering?
Or do they subconsciously feel they don’t have a choice?
After all, they hate doing it… but they still do.

The routine body shaming of women in magazines.
Young girls grow up seeing this everywhere.
This image shows how little choice women have.
Women are encouraged to shame other women in these magazines.
Be accepted or be rejected.
hc

If there were more women who kept their body hair, if it were normal to see a woman in her genuine natural form, I honestly don’t think I would have religiously removed my body hair.
I may have tried it once, found out it was horribly painful for me and decided not to, but I would have been confident enough, not to.
If there were as many women who shaved as there were who didn’t, young girls would actually be making a choice, rather than doing what is expected and accepted.

So as Lucy says, shave or don’t shave, your body, your choice.
The world needs women of all different shapes and sizes.
The world needs women who are hairless just as much as it needs those who choose to keep it.
But in these times, making a stand with a hairy female body is so rare it is in fact, activism!
Wouldn’t it be so awesome if young girls of today saw more and more empowered women, taking back their bodies and saying ‘Stuff you, patriarchy!’
Wouldn’t it be awesome if young girls saw their mums forget to shave for a few days, and simply pop to the shops in a strappy top in the summer time without covering themselves up in the sweltering heat muttering ‘Oh god, I’ve got stubbly pits!’
Wouldn’t it be awesome if young girls looked up to their best friend’s older cousin, the one with the hairy legs, cause she’s really funny and clever, makes delicious cakes and always has the quirkiest music?
Wouldn’t it be awesome if young girls didn’t have to face the judgement that is so often forced upon them, directly and inadvertently, by their peers and their elders?
Wouldn’t it be awesome if young girls looked forward to growing body hair because they would finally feel like a woman just like boys finally feel like a man when they get theirs?
Wouldn’t it be awesome if young girls actually thought about whether they would like to shave or not, rather than it being something automatic that they knew women did?

Wouldn’t it be awesome if womanhood was celebrated just as much as manhood?
Bushy pits and all?

pits

So those who dare to join me, be proud!
Those who don’t, be proud too!
Those who are on the fence, bring the conversation up with others, you would be surprised at how many women find hair removal a right faff and ‘wish they didn’t have to’… you may even be the catalyst for someone else!
But to ALL those with children, I urge you to just think about what message you are sending when you cover up with unnecessary layers to avoid showing your female stubble.
Think about what you say in front of children, even when you aren’t speaking.
We can empower young girls or we can continue to perpetuate the cycle of women being slaves to the system.
Giving them only one option dressed up as ‘personal choice’ – Be accepted or be rejected.

Let’s teach young girls that they are acceptable, whatever choice they make with their own natural, feminine body hair, simply by openly accepting and celebrating women who choose to make a stand and embrace their womanhood in this judgmental society.
Because a woman choosing hair in a hair-fearing society is making an incredibly brave and bold stand.

Thank you for reading! And whatever choices you make, make them for you!

#bigbushbragade – start the conversation!

“Sticks and stones may break bones, but words can shatter souls. Choose carefully the words you say to others. Choose wisely the words you say to yourself. Words have a way of becoming truths we believe about ourselves. And what we believe, we become.”
L.R.Knost

body image ap

This blog post is exploring things from a female perspective.
Having 2 sons, it is also important to me to fight against the expectations and gender stereotypes forced upon them – and I will be addressing those in other posts – This one, however, is just about the body image ideals that are placed on women in today’s society.

stripped

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