Hair & Fashion Memoir Sexuality

The Hairiest Snizz

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NOTE: This post is part of the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest VI! To read more entries, and potentially win a fun prize, visit the fest page on August’s McLaughlin’s site between today and 11pm PST March 11th.

In 4th grade, I liked a boy named Johnny. I brought him fresh tangerines and chased him around the playground at recess. One night, I penned him a handwritten note asking if we could maybe go roller-skating together sometime.

The next morning I stuck the note in his cubby right before we stood to recite The Pledge of Allegiance. That afternoon, Johnny stood among the other boys in our grade and motioned for me to come over. My heart thumping in my chest, I trotted to his side.

At one point, he crouched down to retie the laces on his sneakers, and I was surprised when he touched my ankle. Standing up, he inched closer to me. I was certain he was going to kiss me right then and there, in front of everyone.

It was going to be awesome.

“You’re hairy,“ Johnny announced. “I don’t like hairy girls.”

When I got home from school that afternoon, I found my father’s razor and used it to shave my legs.

And my arms.

And my armpits.

I didn’t even have peach fuzz under my arms, you know, because I was nine years old.

Still, I shaved there all the same.

Just in case.

The threat of spending my life alone and unloved sounded worse than a death sentence.

• • •

Years later, someone I loved told me that he wanted a woman who didn’t burp, fart, sweat or have any hair on her body, except on her head. I laughed and told him that wasn’t a woman; that was a doll.

When he expressed a preference for women who were “smooth down there,” I decided it was time for laser hair removal.

I remember the technician’s rose-colored safety goggles, her gloved hand squeezing my inner thigh.

“I hope you’re not doing this for a man,” she said to my crotch.

At the time, I believed I was doing it for myself.

But it was a lie.

• • •

A few years ago, my friend Eric invited a few people to his parents’ cottage to celebrate his birthday. It was warm, and everyone was lounging around in some state of undress. At some point, Eric’s girlfriend – let’s call her Jenn — announced she was going in the water and stepped out of her long skirt.

Jenn had a lot going on down there.

Dark hair came out of both sides of her bikini bottom.

I’d never seen that much hair on a woman, especially coming from parts I’d been taught were private.

“Gross,” my husband hissed in my ear. “That’s just gross.”

• • •

After my divorce, I took a lover. I was terrified the first time we were intimate. I kept waiting for him to criticize something about my physical appearance. But he didn’t. He made happy sounds when we kissed. He twirled my curls around his fingers, bit my thighs, and told me my body was beautiful.

At first, I didn’t believe him.

But, over time, I realized he was telling the truth, and I wept for all my years of not-knowing.

• • •

As a young girl growing up during the 1970s and 80s, I watched enough episodes of Charlie’s Angels to know that Jill, Kelly and Kate had pretty faces and slim figures. When they wore their tiny bathing suits, they did not have any superfluous body hair.

As a result, I’ve spent a large portion of my life tweezing and plucking and waxing and sugaring, believing that female body hair is unsightly and disgusting.

I see now how all of us, men and women alike, are impacted by this culture’s unrealistic portrayal of women. Women are not hairless; neither are we all long and lean.

I‘ve done many things to attract a lover.

I’ve primped and preened. I’ve told jokes and laughed at their bad ones. I’ve pretended to be interested when, in reality, I was bored. I’ve put myself on a diet, done things that I didn’t really want to do.

When you strip away all the layers, the truth is that I’ve been worrying about everyone else’s opinion of me since I was in elementary school.

• • •

Sometimes, I wish I had a chance to go back to my 4th grade self, to that day Johnny teased me in front of the boys. Instead of internalizing his criticism, I imagine myself moving closer to him, rubbing one of my hairy legs against his.

I would laugh at him and tell him that his ideas about shaving are ludicrous, remind him that human beings are mammals and that mammals have hair on their bodies.

That the messages in the movies, and TV, from friends and family and strangers, are nonsense.

That I don’t exist for his fulfillment.

I would wish him well, hope one day he might meet a woman who loves herself so much that his opinion about body hair might change, that in her arms he might have the chance to know a boundless and intoxicating love.

Afterwards, I would make my way home.

There, in the privacy of my own bedroom, I’d inspect my arms and my legs and deicide I’m good enough ‘as is’.

Instead of seeing myself as defective, I’d be resilient enough to know that one person’s opinion didn’t have to become my truth.

And instead of running for a razor, I’d walk into the kitchen and eat one of the many tangerines I’d been wasting on boys like Johnny.

What do you think about superfluous hair? Gross? Sexy? No big whoop? Feel free to share your funny stories here. I won’t tell anyone. Probably.

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34 thoughts on “The Hairiest Snizz

  1. This was quite an interesting read. I guess we grew up seeing all the ‘role models’ with no hair anywhere… As for the lovers… there are the ones that like hair, the ones that don’t like hair. When it comes to that I have to admit: I do as I please – not anyone of them. If I feel better with, I’ll leave it. If they don’t want that… too bad. I’m not going to shave, wax or sugar on command.
    Thanks for this open and down-to-earth post.

    1. Hi Aurora:

      Good for you for knowing your boundaries when it comes to pleasing others. I did that stuff for way too long, and I’m soooo over it now. Partially because I have awakened to the inequality, but also because I have almost no body hair left, so there’s that, too. 😉 Nice to meet you. Thank you for leaving such a thoughtful comment.

  2. This reminds me of a similar experience that I had in first grade. I was so happy to be wearing my new sandals until someone started teasing me about my hairy legs. Up until that moment I never knew that I had hairy legs. In first grade, I cannot imagine that they were that hairy, but my hair is dark so in comparison to my fair-haired classmates, I guess they were. I think it was my first feeling of shame about my body.

    1. Hi Deborah:

      Look at how these early incidents mark us. It’s awful really, the way we start thinking negatively about our bodies. And where do people get these ideas about beauty? We would never dream of telling a man that his legs are too hairy. They are “supposed” to be hairy. (That being said, don’t get me started on back hair. Human backs should not be hairy. They just shouldn’t. #hypocrite

  3. This is BEAUTIFUL, Renee – so relevant, heart-wrenching and inspiring. May many gals take your lead!

    To each their own, but I find public hair is sexy. There’s something beautifully raw and natural about it. And the one time I tried waxing….YOUCH!!! No thank you.

    As a side note, I’ve heard from a number of young women who’s male partners were horrified by their pubic hair, having never seen it thanks to mainstream porn. (I’m not anti-porn, but find it sad that that’s the bulk of many youth’s sex ed.) But I also know many guys love it.

    Thanks for joining the fest! This is one of my favorite contributions. <3

    1. Omigoodness! I had no idea that many men preferred a hairless va-jay-jay. I guess I feel even more lucky that the man I’m currently seeing seems to like all of me. And thank you for saying that this was one of your favorite contributions. I hope more people stop by. I’m looking forward to getting back to blogging again. <3

    1. Yeah, those boys can suck on rotten eggs, if you know what I mean. If I only knew then what I know now. 🙂

        1. Agreed. Life is cruel that way, isn’t it? Now that I know what I’m doing, my poor body can’t keep up with me.

  4. Yup, darker hair and pale skin = teasing in elementary school for being “hairy.” I also remember being ashamed, although I think it really hit in 4th grade. Oh course I couldn’t wait to shave my legs and under my arms to get rid of the “nasty” hair.

    Of course, after decades of doing so, I’ve grown used to it and the texture of it drives me crazy when it gets too long. So now, I shave for me, not anyone else. Plus, I do smell better (less BO, which my nose is not a fan of) when I shave.

    I feel like we’ve reached an age where now men (at least those actors seen as role models) are now often forced into hairless mode. Revenge by women, perhaps? But the days of hairy Tom Selleck being the ideal sex god are now replaced with your smooth chested (waxed?) actors. Sure there are a few exceptions, but look at young actors now–they are unnaturally hairless, just like their female counterparts.

    So I dunno, at least there’s a bit more equality now in the shaving debate. 🙂

    But yeah, kids are cruel. They will find anything to tease you about, and body hair (unlike names, ethnicity, socio-economic background, intelligience, or other body features) is the one thing we CAN change out of the many things they will tease us about. Perhaps that is why it is harder to accept it as “normal.”

    Or maybe we need to teach elementary students about mammals a lot earlier to help set resonable expectations, not those driven by the adult movie industry.

    1. OMG! Kelly! It’s been forever and ever. I was soooooo sick for soooooo long and I’m just starting to come out of it. Thank you so much for sharing your words here, for your sisterhood — even after a long time away. 🙂

  5. Girls rule. Hair. No hair. It’s whatever you like.

    I loved your story because, like August said, it’s so relevant. Sometimes it’s hair, sometimes it’s the way some one laughs, and sometimes it’s something else. It’s so easy for people to get critical and judge and have no idea (or worse, don’t care) that they just demolished someone’s self esteem. We need to learn not to undervalue ourselves.

    1. I feel like I have very fragile self-esteem. more fragile than that of other people. I can be so easily undone, by an unkind word or a cruel look. People keep telling me to toughen up. Part of knowing who I am is knowing that I am sensitive. And I think this is why I make a very good friend because I rarely speak ill of others.

  6. I love this post soooo much! Like you, I shaved for a good portion of my life. Not because I wanted to, not because that was my preference, but because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. And then I turned 40! LOL

    I spent my youth believing who people told me I was. In my 20’s I searched frantically for evidence that they were right, only to discover “they” were wrong. In my 30’s I caught glimpses of my authentically awesome self. And now that I am 40+ I am living a delicious life as the woman I was always meant to be. Unapologetically me. My pits have hair and my crotch is natural. And as it turns out, I grow way less hair than I used to… go figure! LOL

    Thank you for being amazing and beautifully vulnerable. I love you.

    1. hi Stacey:

      Good for you. I guess I’m a decade behind you. How wonderful that you have found a peaceful place for yourself. I’m still working on it.

    1. I feel like I’m in an in between place, Lish. I’m not there quite yet. I wonder if I ever will be. But I can tell you one thing: I’ll never do anything that I don’t want to do ever again…especially when it comes to my body.

  7. We are all mammals, we grow hair .. down there and elsewhere. Funny isn’t it? We have been taught we, that is women, should look like little girls to be acceptable. We should be narrow, thin, hairless and .. and what?

    Nah, hun we should be what we are intended to be, what we are comfortable with being. We should be who we are.

    I loved this. Loved reading you are moving ahead. You are growing into you.

    1. Val, you’re giving me waaaaay too much credit. I don’t know what I’m doing half the time. I am definitely moving ahead, but I wish wish wish that I was in a more content place. I guess that’s part of my journey, huh?

      1. Journey is always ahead, eventually we embrace it rather than despise what brought us here. Even the hard stuff, it just becomes a piece of us, our history and what makes us unique and winderfully us.

  8. I’ve lived a very sheltered life, and I certainly have body image issues. But not until I got divorced was I even aware that men had an issue with hair. This is probably because I have very little hair on most of my body, except my head and my hoohah. And it’s all about me, right? I’d give your friend “Jenn” a run for her money. I’ve obviously been lucky that hair wasn’t an issue, and I deeply appreciate you sharing your experience. Now, if you want to talk about cellulite…

    1. Hil:

      Thank you for sharing this. Every time I write something, I’m stunned by people’s willingness to share that they understand, that they, too, have their own insecurities. And thanks for sharing your hoohah with me. 🙂

  9. After just completing 8 rounds of chemotherapy for metastatic breast cancer, I am thankful for any bit of body hair I have, as it is a sign of life inside of me, life not destroyed by the poison that was pumped into my veins for the last 4 months. Prior to this point, I was always waxing and shaving to rid myself of “excess hair” on my legs, under my arms, my “private zone”…. now I look back and think “who was I doing it for?”…. like you, I fooled myself into thinking it was for me. It wasn’t. It was to find acceptance and “love” in a patriarchal world. Now I am bald and heavier than I was (4 months of steroids will pack on pounds) and my self esteem has been extremely low… but I’m trying to transform the anger that I so naturally turn inward on myself to anger at a broken system that has made me feel inherently inadequate on so many levels.

    Really love this reflection. It resonated with me tremendously. Made me think long and hard about internal and external loci of control and how I’ve fooled myself into thinking that I’ve been in control, when in actuality, I’ve been giving my power away for the majority of my 27 years of life. Hope you’re well Renee! I hope to take another class at some point!

    1. Hi Amy! Wow. Just wow. We need to catch up. It sounds like you’ve had a grueling 8 months, and that you’re on the mend…but all the physical changes have been difficult for you. I totally understand this. The great thing is that you’re still young and you’ll live a much healthier life now that you realize it’s time to stop giving your power away! DO what you love, listen to your body, and you’ll do a lot better! I know I’m doing a lot better since we met last year! Any chance you’d consider taking that writing class again? I feel like you’ve got a lot of clarity now.

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