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Sabine Wiesel is a freelance beauty journalist and beauty blogger at www.sabinesays.co.uk. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter. Here she discusses how she doesn’t know if she’s shaving or growing when it comes to body hair…
Watching Love Island this summer I sat open-mouthed when contestant Anton announced to his fellow Islanders he shaves all of his body hair off – with his mum even giving him a helping hand with his hard-to-reach backside. The girls in the villa laughed at this and found it off-putting, as did I, but the reality is those girls are probably hair-less from the eyebrows down themselves. Whether we agree or not, body hair is no longer a feature of the ideal female body. I’ve worked in the magazine industry for many years, and it would be air-brushed away to meet this beauty standard. But why do we think differently when it comes to men? The episode fuelled my ongoing confusion with why us women are expected to shave, wax, pluck and even laser our way to this supposed ideal.
My confusion started when I was 13, at secondary school, when walking between classes a boy in my year pointed at my legs and shouted ‘eww look at your hairy legs’. I was so embarrassed, I went home and stole my mum’s razor and shaved for the first time. Before that day, I had never given a moment’s thought to my body hair, but social pressure made me conform.
Female body hair might be natural, but we’ve become conditioned in society to find the presence of it unnatural. It’s often labelled ‘gross’, ‘disgusting’ and even ‘unhygienic’. So much so, if it’s spotted on a celebrity it makes headlines for standing out. Just look at the media field-day it got when Julia Roberts walked the red carpet with armpit hair or Gwyneth Paltrow talked about how she prefers a 70s bush. It seems so offensive to some, but why? It’s natural!
To be more body confident when I forget to shave, and not really care what other people will think.
Let’s talk more about the hair between our legs. Popular opinion from our opposite sex is that they prefer us with minimal to no hair at all. You just have to watch the Channel 4 show Naked Attraction to see this. Now, I’m normally with Gwyneth on this one and like to rock a more natural vibe. But dating a new partner last year, I decided to join the ’Hollywood’ gang (that’s waxing the lot off) for my third date. So once again in my life, I conformed to what I thought was a social norm.
It’s refreshing to see that women are finally on the backlash. Celebrities like Adele and Ashley Graham are reported to be proud of their body hair. Miley Cyrus is often spotted rocking the au natural look, even dyeing her armpit-hair pink, and Instagram is full of pictures of women embracing their body hair with hashtags like #bodyhairisbeautiful. My beautiful sister-in-law even gave me a shock, when she flashed her arm-pit hair at me and proudly told me she’d stopped shaving. And it was great to see earlier this year, a razor advert finally got real, as Billie’s razor advert showed not only arm and leg hair but pubic hair in their campaign.
These women’s collective honesty and refusal to conform to these idealistic values of what makes a woman beautiful, has made me be more honest with myself. That it’s ok that I like hair in places where others don’t. I’ll no longer be removing any of my body hair to please a man, but it’s ok to do it to please myself. To be more body confident when I forget to shave, and not really care what other people will think. To love individuality, because the world would be a boring place if we were all the same. If we all ‘just do you’ we should see a change in people’s attitudes to it. If men can go as hairy or hair-free as they please, women can too.