Christmas just gone my oldest sister came over from France as well as my little sister so we took the opportunity to have a big family dinner, which obviously meant getting dressed up. As I was getting undressed my oldest sister gasped in horror at the sight of my unshaven armpits.
She was absolutely mortified when I then told her I hadn’t shaved (or in my case epilated) my legs since the summer and couldn’t quite get her head around the fact that I wasn’t bothered. Thankfully our relationship is good and I know her disgust is purely for jokes, but for a lot of women it really can be a source for absolute horror, and for me that makes me embrace my hair even more.
Last year H&M released an advert that had a women in it with hairy armpits, along with other women that supposedly break from ‘the female norm’ it was posted in a parent group I belong to, and although the majority of comments where praising their choice, one comment stood out. “Urgh, that is disgusting” and she meant it. It angered me so much that I had to comment, informing her that being unshaven was neither unhygienic nor disgusting. But it saddened me that these comments, as well as images of hairless women are constantly being filtered down through generations so that we loose sight of what women look like in their natural state or if we see them like that, they are viewed as unclean or unfeminine.
Don’t get me wrong I couldn’t care less if you never shave or shave off all your hair on your body, but it should be your choice. Not a choice made by fear of being ridiculed.
So this is where my children come in and also my main point for writing this post. Raising boys I am conscious that how they view women falls on me initially, and I don’t mean, so they find a nice woman to settle down with, but that they value the women they meet in their lives. Whether that’s through friendships, as workmates, as lovers or just passing them in the street. I want them to embrace women as equals, to not be grossed out by hair under their arms, or on their legs or the fact that women bleed for 7days a month.
I do this by embracing my hair, and making sure they know that I embrace it. I don’t stand at the mirror bemoaning my saggy tummy or counting my wrinkles, I happily wear strappy tops and have hairy armpits. And although I’m still not fully comfortable baring my hairy legs, I talk to my inquisitive 5 year old about why I am de-fuzzing in the summer months. But I ensure that they are positive reasons and not because I find the hair disgusting.
These may seem insignificant in the big, grand scheme of life but for me it’s a building block I’m adding to this tiny human along with many others that will one day, hopefully, create a compassionate and loving adult.
*Images: Illustration – Madison McClain
Photographs – Roxie Hunt