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I've read so many posts here and on other sites about how awesome and liberating it is to ditch the razor and let your body hair grow out. I want to do that, too! But I have no idea how to stop. fucking. shaving.

I (and I'm assuming quite a lot of other women) started shaving around the 6th or 7th grade. Not because I WANTED to shave, but because we had to wear shorts in gym class and suddenly there was an intense pressure to have smooth legs or else be mocked. I guess I'm fortunate that I don't have much body hair, and what I do have is light and sparse, so shaving has never been an ordeal for me and I never questioned why I did it because it was so normalized as routine female "hygiene."

Over the past few months I've been trying to stop shaving. But after a few weeks I end up caving and shave my legs and underarms. I can't lie: I do really like the feeling of having smooth skin. But I've been starting to question why I like it and maybe I'm still dealing with some internalized misogyny about how women "should" be hairless? Maybe I'm just overthinking it?

So, to all the cool women who have ditched their razors, I have a few questions:

Did you feel like there was an "adjustment period" for getting used to it? Did you just stop and never go back? And now with summer around the corner in the northern hemisphere, how do you feel when you're out in public with bare (but still hairy) legs? (Obvs I don't care about how other women choose to keep their body hair, but I've noticed that women with visible body hair do tend to attract critical looks from strangers).

Sorry for the dumb questions. Peaking and taking the radfem pill has made me reconsider a lot about my life choices.

Edited to add: I'm/from in the United States because it seems relevant.

I've read so many posts here and on other sites about how awesome and liberating it is to ditch the razor and let your body hair grow out. I want to do that, too! But I have no idea how to stop. fucking. shaving. I (and I'm assuming quite a lot of other women) started shaving around the 6th or 7th grade. Not because I WANTED to shave, but because we had to wear shorts in gym class and suddenly there was an intense pressure to have smooth legs or else be mocked. I guess I'm fortunate that I don't have much body hair, and what I do have is light and sparse, so shaving has never been an ordeal for me and I never questioned why I did it because it was so normalized as routine female "hygiene." Over the past few months I've been trying to stop shaving. But after a few weeks I end up caving and shave my legs and underarms. I can't lie: I do really like the feeling of having smooth skin. But I've been starting to question why I like it and maybe I'm still dealing with some internalized misogyny about how women "should" be hairless? Maybe I'm just overthinking it? So, to all the cool women who have ditched their razors, I have a few questions: Did you feel like there was an "adjustment period" for getting used to it? Did you just stop and never go back? And now with summer around the corner in the northern hemisphere, how do you feel when you're out in public with bare (but still hairy) legs? (Obvs I don't care about how other women choose to keep their body hair, but I've noticed that women with visible body hair do tend to attract critical looks from strangers). Sorry for the dumb questions. Peaking and taking the radfem pill has made me reconsider a lot about my life choices. Edited to add: I'm/from in the United States because it seems relevant.

56 comments

I don't think you should beat yourself too much over it. IMO the "liberating feeling" comes from when you feel confident enough to do it, not when you feel guilty enough to do it. I haven't shaved in forever but I still trim things down every now and then, including leg hair. So it's a little shorter and more uniform, but still soft.

Not shaving is not a major tenant of radical feminism. Focus on the real stuff like Andrea Dworkin and seeing through male bullshit.

Liberating women from restrictive beauty regimes based on male bullshit is

I know. But it seems like a relatively simple way for women to reclaim some aspect of autonomy by defying a really deeply ingrained social belief. It's frustrating because it shouldn't be difficult to give up and I hate that I have insecurity about my body in its natural state.

Maybe focus on one area to stop shaving? Like start with your underarms and once you are comfortable, add in your legs. It's hard to change habits and hard to overcome fear of judgement.

[–] ghoul2 4 points Edited

Aha I made a post in womenslib like last week? Two weeks ago maybe? Asking how to get over the fear of going out with unshaved legs. A surprising amount of commenters just told me to shave. One nugget I did get from the people telling me to shave was that it doesn't make you less of a feminist to shave. And the other nugget I got was, remember how not shaving may be the spark that emboldens other women to follow their truth. Here's the post if you want to see it since you may like to read the comments.

I quit shaving November 2019. Hated the growing out period but once it was fully grown out I like it. I like how my skin feels. I did it because I was sick of how shaving made my skin feel, my legs don't flake anymore. I love how the wind feels in it too on a warm day.

I don't always feel confident with it. Around conservative family I still wear exclusively pants. I think if I get an office job I will have to start shaving again to look right with professional dresses. And in the summertime it's hard to psych myself up to wear shorts or skirts for the first time in public but now that I've worn shorts out like 4 times I feel like I've kinda broken free for the season. I just know that a lot of people are judgmental about it and say nothing. But then I have to remind myself their judgment says more about them than me.

I also know I'm deliberately missing my chance to be the beauty standard in a way. I'm a relatively thin white girl and the only things I've ever been criticized/made fun of for were my body hair (i have dark hair) and my nose. I could be a real hottie if I dressed a certain way and shaved my legs again and actually knew how to do makeup "correctly" and actually knew how to style my hair and sometimes I feel like I'm wasting that chance while I'm young. But actually I just like to wear graphic tees and baggy shorts and just because I have the potential to be a sex symbol doesn't mean I need to exercise that, because that's not what my body is for. My focus should be health.

I still shave my armpits but I'm very lax about it. I use a natural deodorant that you apply with your finger or a little wooden stick, it comes in a pot, not in a tube like normal deodorant. It's difficult to apply it if I let my armpit hair get over a cm. I use a trimmer with no guard instead of a razor whixh gets it looking to the length of if you haven't shaved in 1-2 days w/ razor. My armpits used to itch really bad when i shaved but with the trimmer it never itches anymore.

Even just last night I was questioning if I should shave my legs. Like I'm missing out on being normal. But then I'm like, I just can't be bothered to bend over and do that. Would I really feel any better if I shaved? no. Because a lot of my shame about it stems from just not wanting to look at my body at all. Shaving below the knee never worked for me because my thigh hair is also brown. This is how God made me. I want to become comfortable with myself. So i leave the leg hair on in hopes that by making myself get used to it, I can grow as a person, and I think it is working.

Edit to add: covid made me feel really free to express my body hair. Now that things are going back it feels more difficult to be abnormal in public, but I have to remember I'm fundamentally doing this for myself

Oh, awesome. Thank you for sharing the link! I should have checked that circle too

Nah tbh I think it's good to have different threads in different places, everyone has a different perspective to share ❤

Lol its def less feminist to shave.... But not every feminist can be a perfect feminist. I still shave, but way less than I used to. Patriarchal conditioning is hard to undo and it takes time. That is OK.

Wish it wasn't so hard to navigate this stuff, but it really is!

In my ideal world i think everyone is at their comfort level for their personal reason, not because of societal compulsion. The same way men can decide if they want a beard or a clean face.

It's important not to get things backwards.

It's not "stop shaving to become confident" it's "become confident to stop doing things you don't want to do"

Radical feminism isn't about telling you how to live your life, but about analysing what it means when we do the things we do. Our personal growth happens independently and at its own rhythm. You'll be ready someday.

[–] fae 10 points Edited

It's definitely a process. I think I started by just shaving less often, and now I can't imagine dealing with the itching and the ingrown hairs anymore. I have very visible, dark, thick body hair but I just can no longer be bothered with this uphill battle against it. The beauty standard just enrages me too much and that fuels my resolve, lol. That and the possibility that I might be a visual reminder to other women and girls that they don't have to shave either.

I just trim my armpit hair and leave my legs alone; and now several years in, I genuinely think (trimmed) armpit hair looks better than bare armpits, on any woman. Also, I've never received any nasty comments, and never really noticed any obvious nasty looks; even had a woman compliment my outfit once, when my hairy lower legs were fully on display, and that's in a country where artificial femininity is at least as popular as in the USA. Of course, YMMV even by neighborhood, no matter where in the world you are.

I still dislike my leg hair, though; I never wear anything above the knee (it is partly a fashion preference, but not entirely) and I'm not sure I'd have the courage to expose my legs in formal/work situations... I'm a big fan of opaque tights. Stopping shaving, and the efforts to conceal that whenever I can, made me start reconsidering women's fashion in general. We just don't see male body hair all that much because men aren't constantly exposed like women are. These days I can't see a female celebrity in a low cut backless cutout mini dress next to a male celebrity in a suit without rolling my eyes. Every consideration through a radfem lens just leads to another...

We just don't see male body hair all that much because men aren't constantly exposed like women are.

This is an excellent point. Men are almost never expected to expose bare legs and even less so bare armpits unless they are at the beach/pool. And even there, they never, ever have to expose the groin/pubic area unlike women.

They do in hot climates. Not the groin, obviously (thank goodness 🤢) but they go around in shorts and short sleeves all the time here, and we’re far from being the hottest part of Australia. Hell, there was some bloke in shorts this morning when it was 6C (and complaining about the cold 🙄).

I love letting rage fuel your resolve, lol. And your last sentence is so true. The radfem lens is a lot like the sunglasses from They Live except they see through male bullshit.

I shave my pits because otherwise I get really stinky. I don’t shave my legs until cycling season comes around, and even then, maybe not. Neither choice has anything to do with my commitment to feminism, and neither do your reasons. Now if It comes to shaving only to satisfy or please men, then it might be relevant. Relax and do you.

[–] Willow9 5 points Edited

Yes, it takes a while to adjust, take your time. When it comes to hair here in Brazil the standard is wax. Everywhere. Completely hairless. In my OB/GYN rotations I rarely see a woman that has pubic hair. It's possible that they shave/wax for the consultation, still, isn't that much of a hassle? I just go natural when it's my time to get a papa smear test.

Currently I use a machine to trim my legs and armpits and pubes every once in a while, Ive stopped waxing and the razor fresh out of my teens. Too much pain, too much ingrown hairs. It's hard because even the gender non corforming women here are hairless and this is a tropical country, so there are long months of heat and you can't help but want to expose your arms and legs. You see, I dislike skirts in general, but the heat kills me during the summer. I am currently adapting using more skirts and dresses, as well as light fabrics. I ditched everything synthetic because it makes me feel hotter and may or not give me skin allergy. Plus I wear sleeveless shirts all the time in the season, because I don't want to pass out cold since my blood pressure may drop in hot days.

I'd love to wear pants and long sleeves all my life, but the climate here makes it impossible. Of course, there's also the bikini culture. When you go to the beach there's not a single women that isn't completely hairless. I go to the beach twice a year since I was born, and despite loving the sea I would always stress myself with hair and exposing my body. I was always particularly hairy, and it's pretty noticeable since I am fair skinned with dark hair. I thought I had OPS but it's just genetics really. I remember I once dyed my ARM hair because I was self conscious about it. Thank god I grew out of it, I realized I was going to be stressing myself my whole life because of hair or I could get my own solution to it.

Of course in formal settings I still try to fit in, keep it a bit trimmed, but at home, with my partners and walking around in town I couldn't care less if I am hairy or not.

[–] Tortoisemouse 11 points Edited

I think you are undoubtedly dealing with some internalised misogyny about how women are "meant" to look (and it's not the way women actually naturally look).

However in my very inexperienced opinion it is extremely difficult to shift this way of subconscious thinking. You would be able to cure it if you lived in a woman-only commune with no internet or TV or media of any kind for a few months. But it would probably come back if you returned to normal life.

I find when I am on a long camping holiday I stop caring about make-up, hair etc. etc. and I think it's (a) being in touch with nature and (b) not having any mirrors and (c) being away from media/TV/news/screens. I often think, "why do I even bother with all that hassle in normal life?" but it comes straight back when I return from camping.

I don't know for sure but I get the sense the women who have been able to resist the pressure to shave have either been brought up in such a way that they feel confident with their bodies as they are, or have chosen a life path that takes them away from the mainstream notions of womanhood. The conditioning starts very young and mainstream culture is saturated in it.

This is all by way of saying don't feel bad and don't blame yourself but DO raise your own consciousness, as you are doing by posting here. Because I think another way of breaking it is just to become aware. If you are forcing yourself not to shave and you still feel unhappy with your hairy body, that isn't a solution (especially if the act of shaving isn't causing you any physical discomfort). The problem isn't shaving per se, but the hatred of our womanly bodies. With increased awareness of the internalised misogyny you might find you can't be bothered or can't see the point of shaving or one day you forget and you realise you don't really care.

Thank you so much for such a thoughtful reply. I really appreciate that you took the time to write it.

Finally questioning all the little things I've just been doing for so much of my life because I thought that's just what women did has been a very confusing experience.

You are welcome! Thanks for your generous response.

Yes it is confusing, very confusing. We begin to realise so many of the things we accepted as normal, natural, "just the way things are" is in fact deeply harmful to us as individuals and to women as a class.

It's especially confusing because we can raise our consciousness all we like but we still have to continue to exist and to function within the patriarchy. It can make it harder for a while because at least, before, we were blissfully unaware, but now we have to experience the misogyny and be fully conscious of the pain it is causing us.

Yes! Sometimes I wish I could put the scales back on my eyes. Because not only do I see the real depth of the hatred and all the ways it manifests, especially now in this time of backlash and punishment, but I have no idea what do do. What freedom would look like. How we could get there.

Question: Do YOU want to quit shaving, or are you just doing it because you think that's what a feminist is supposed to do?

Forget what everyone else is doing. You do you.

I like having smooth skin, and I have no plans to give up hair removal any time soon. If someone thinks I'm less of a feminist for it, I don't give a shit. It's my body and I'll do what I like.

That's what I'm trying to figure out, lol. I guess the other women I know make it seem like it's so simple to just cast aside performative femininity and I'm frustrated because it feels so difficult.

Thanks for your reply.

Maybe just leave it alone until it comes naturally to you?

I've always worn very little makeup, but I would always put something on when going out. Now I don't even bother. It just happened naturally.

And if it doesn't happen naturally, then maybe it's not for you. And that's okay.

Don't worry, you're not alone. It is difficult to change your habits and appearance, for any reason, let alone in a way that you know will mark you socially. I agree with others that say take it one thing at a time. When I first got into radical feminism I started to question why I did some of the "beauty" routines such as shaving and makup, plucking my eyebrows. I dropped things one at a time to see how I felt about it, starting with things that I felt were the biggest waste of my time and most painful. Eyebrow plucking was the first thing to go. Seek out your own comfort when it comes to your appearance. How you look does make a statement, and influences others women to rebel, but there is so much more to being a feminist (and a woman) than how we look. Nowadays I'm focusing on networking with other women and building community.

Sis, i call myself a baby radfem and i do shave some parts. I trim my pubes to avoid clogging and i shave my armpits so my deodorant lasts longer. My Nigel has no say in my hair business and no one else has.

My off the wall but extremely effective solution: Switch over to Sugaring or Waxing as a a transition.

A) The hairs grow out with tapered soft ends not the rough cut ends with a razor. So the hairs seem significantly less unpleasant while you are adjusting to being fuzzy.

B) It hurts and isn't as convient and is some $$$ so you will be incentivized to do it less often, allowing you to get used to periods of having grown out hairs.

C) you can more than likely easily find an Esthetician close to you who owns her small business, so while you are still practicing hair removal you can put money in her pocket (often single moms) instead of the corporate wing of the patriarchy at Johnson-and-Johnson/Proctor-and-Gamble/etc.

Thats what worked for me. Much easier to transition out of waxing than shaving. Hope that helps!

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