16 Women & Non-Binary People Get Real About Shaving & Body Hair

razers
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

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To shave or not to shave? It's a constant question that women have to deal with because, thanks to one single money-making scheme a hundred years ago, we're not allowed to have body hair.

Do we go ahead and shave? Do we reject the stigma and wear our body hair proudly out in the open in spite of stares and nasty comments? Do we just do what we feel like, including shaving if we want to?

Personally, I shave my leg hair when I'm going to have my legs exposed in the world outside my apartment. And I'm not going to lie, I do so because I'm not brave enough to face the judgment; it's hard enough to be a fat woman in public. However, during the long Seattle winter, I don't bother shaving my legs, and my significant other is well-acquainted with my forested shins.

Maybe someday I'll go out in public to show off my unshaven legs. However, it's important to note that I'm a white cisgender woman — woman of color often face additional stigma and straight up racism when they have body hair. I don't have to deal with literal comparisons to animals. I also don't have to worry about transphobic violence.

No matter who you are, it's weird that we have to worry about hair that grows on our legs. We asked 16 women and non-binary people about their leg shaving habits and how they feel about it, and some of their answers may surprise you.

[Editor's note: Some submissions have been edited for clarity and were submitted anonymously through Tumblr.]

S, 43
PHOTO: NBC
1 / 16

S, 43

"I mostly shave my legs based on my mood and outfit. I wear pants most of the time, so I can go 4 to 6 weeks easily. The only exception is pedicure day (which is still once a month), so the nail tech doesn't get grossed out!"

animated epilator demonstration vs. razor shaving
PHOTO: BDSHOP
2 / 16

L, 36

"I stopped shaving once I discovered epilating. Now, I shave my armpits and bikini area with a razor and only shave my legs from the knees up. I epilate whenever the hair gets long enough that my legs start itching, but I am almost always wearing pants or maxi dresses. 

"The only time I actually full on shave my legs is if I'm out of town without my epilator, have last minute plans and don't have time to epilate, or just need to 'touch up' small areas that weren't completely smoothed by epilating." 

man running his hands over the smooth skin of a woman's legs
PHOTO: ATHOS FILMS
3 / 16

B, 33

"I shave every other day because I like the feeling of smooth skin." 

S, 27
4 / 16

S, 27

"I generally shave most in the summer, but the process of hair removal takes so long that I barely do it at all. I’m very much pro-hair and anti-hair shaming, but I find myself shaving when it’s time to wear tights under a short dress; the idea of tiny hairs sticking up out through the hosiery just bugs me, personally." 

hair smoking and shriveling due to laser hair removal treatment
PHOTO: METRO UK
5 / 16

A, 40

"I had a couple of laser hair removal treatments on my legs over 10 years ago that worked surprisingly well. Now, I usually only shave when I know I'm wearing something where my legs will be on display." 

gif of girl coming out of the closet in costume saying boo
6 / 16

T, 29

"I like the way my legs feel when shaven. I love that nice smooth soft feeling of it. But at the same time, I am in the closet as a trans woman and am kind of worried about ending up in the hospital and someone being like, 'Why does he shave his legs?' But I guess that is a bit silly at this point, since I have boobs."

gif of judy garland saying that's why i don't care
7 / 16

Anonymous, 23

"Proudly haven't shaved my legs since I was a teenager! (Stopped at 19 and I'm only 23, but still.) No matter how much I moisturize, I still had rough skin, so I was always frustrated when I'd spend time shaving and still not have smooth legs. When I realized shaving wasn't something I enjoyed and that the Venus razor commercial look wasn't attainable for me, I stopped. It's been mostly easy. At first, I was self-conscious in public, but not having to spend time shaving was worth it.

"I quickly grew not to care. Additionally, I'm white and have light hair so it's not very noticeable. Friends are impressed/jealous when I tell them I haven't shaved in years. Romantic partners either don't notice or care. The only opposition I've really had is from my mom, who's asked multiple times if my boyfriend minds or says its unprofessional. Even then, what she says is more out of concern than meanness (although I can tell she's grossed out, but she tries to hide it)."

cat with white fur under its nose that looks like a mustache
8 / 16

Anonymous

"I'm non-binary, and I don't tend to shave my legs. I don't like how it makes my legs feel all slick and shiny, but I still shave to go to family gatherings where I'm wearing a skirt because I just don't want to deal with my relatives' sour looks. 

"In the last year, I've started growing a mustache. It's still pretty faint, but I love it. I can't bring myself to shave it off. I get looks and 'subtle' comments about shaving and using razors, just because most people assume I'm a girl. It sucks."

gif of two people in skirts and pumps shaving their legs
PHOTO: HOLYCHILD
9 / 16

Anonymous

"I actually like shaving my legs. This is just my personal opinion, everyone views it differently, but I prefer the look of my smooth skin."

gif of person putting on glasses from the sandlot
10 / 16

Anonymous

"I am Black, cis, body positive, and bi. When I was growing up I had incredibly bad vision to the point where I wouldn't be able to see things like my legs well enough in the shower to actually shave them. And since I couldn't do much about it, I stopped caring. Being Black in all white spaces was way more pressing than how hairy my legs were."

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LINDSEY WEEDSTON

Lindsey Weedston is NOT a social justice warrior. Clearly, her class is bard, with extra points in stealth and a little taken out of charisma. She's also a HUGE nerd, and can often be found gushing about video games. She even participated in a LARPing exercise once. Not nerdy enough to know what that is? Google it. You'll see.

Lindsey is a life-long feminist and writer and likes to color in adult coloring books with gel pens. She writes on LGBT+ and mental health issues, and will ruin your favorite childhood TV show with her feminism. Nothing you love is safe. Have a nice day!

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