Don’t let fear of judgement control your body image

We’ve already had several warm days this spring, most of them resulting in the urge and or need to expose some more skin. If you’re a female, you might feel the urge to finally shave off that winter coat of leg hair (or other body hair) you’ve been growing since “no shave November.”
I don’t know about you, but to me it can be such a hassle to shave my legs,. It takes time out of my day, and it requires vital tools (which require money) to get the optimal smoothness and shininess to reflect the “ideal” image of an American girl ready to soak up the sun, or be confident enough to wear that sleek dress out to dinner.
I am personally on the fence about shaving or not shaving my legs and underarms. Sometimes I like the feeling and the look of it, but it also can be a hassle to my routine, and I may also be more wasteful if I do decide to shave, consuming/using more water and putting more plastic waste into landfills. I oftentimes care too much about what others think of me.
It’s funny how much of a pressure most of us women have to conform to the image we think we need to look like. The influence may be from media and beauty companies, or just from the herd mentality our society has now that it’s normal for a woman to add shaving into her already extensive beauty routine.

Honestly, how did this trend start? Why is it so normalized? We are mammals, we are meant to have hair on our bodies, it’s growing there for a reason. I know that in other parts of the world this isn’t a normal thing, so why here?

As it turns out, this trend or topic isn’t as recent as one may think. It’s been around for centuries. Hair removal is said to have been used during the Stone Age where men and women would shave off all hair to have an advantage against opponents in battle.
There are several other occurrences in the past where shaving became a norm in culture and society, but, as of late, it just seems to be a marketing ploy to pressure women (and men) to do things to their bodies to seem more attractive.

More recently, social expectations of women’s bodily image shifted when razors became more economical and safe to use. Another contributor was fashion trends evolving into shorter dresses and sleeves, to sleeveless gowns and bikini swimsuits, all occurring during or after the 1920s.

Don’t get me wrong: There can be benefits to self-grooming, which can boost confidence. There may also be medical reasons to shave. But, but from what I’ve read, shaving can cause more problems than it solves.

On the male side, there is sometimes a pressure to be “clean-shaven” for a job position. In previous years, men could even be fired for not following protocol. Now, it seems the requirement is to “look neat,” as in keep your beard trimmed and clean. In the past, some men even had to go to the doctor and get a prescription for not shaving, since shaving can often cause irritation and ingrown hairs, otherwise known as pseudofolliculitis barbae.

This day and age, we seem to be more relaxed with individual choices each person makes about his or her body. People tend to go “against the grain” now more than ever, which is pretty cool!

Granted, living in the Portland Metro area, there’s emphasis on being “odd” and expressing yourself in unique ways. More frequently you see body positivity, androgyny, and transgender themes being advocated locally, and in our society. It’s good to emphasize personal choice, rather than conform to a box.

Do what you want with your body, do what makes you comfortable in your own skin.

If that is shaving, that’s great; if not, good for you! Just take care of yourself and do drugs responsibly. (I’m kidding about that, please don’t do drugs, it’s a dark and windy road that leads to a dependence that will be hard for you go overcome.)

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