For several months in 2018 and into 2019, I did not shave my legs or armpits, allowing my body hair to grow to its natural length. When I walked down the hallway in shorts, I could feel the breeze rustling through my leg hair. I loved it. In the privacy of my own mind, I adored my hairy body. I reveled in living in my body as it naturally occurred, and I appreciated my body in a way that I never had before.
However, outside of my mind, at times even as close as within my own home, I felt an uneasy amount of guilt, shame, and embarrassment. Body hair on a woman may be natural, but it isn’t normal. A comment made by my boyfriend crushed the adoration I had felt for myself. I wasn’t confident enough to wear sleeveless dresses outside of my apartment; the most I showed off my legs was going down to the apartment gym at 6am, where I would see at most two people, complete strangers.
I struggled with my emotions. I personally loved my natural, hairy body, but at the same time I was experiencing this slew of negative thoughts. How could I rectify these two opposing experiences and have the confidence to show what I loved about myself to the world, and not be confined to only loving myself in secret?
Here’s where I could say that I picked myself up and forced myself to go out into the world and embrace my body hair, wearing sleeveless dresses and shorts with no shame. I did it! I showed society who’s boss!
That isn’t what happened.
It was winter. It was easy to get away with always wearing long pants and long shirts with no risk of assaulting unsuspecting innocents with my hairy caveman legs. I hid myself under my clothes, because I was too afraid to oppose the norm. Because I am a work in progress, a person still learning to be kind to herself.
I may not have gone into the world and displayed my leg hair for all to see, but I did learn a lot about myself. I learned I have lingering issues from a past relationship where I was told I needed to lose weight to please my partner. I learned that I feel fierce protectiveness for my body, and react poorly when people suggest what I should do with it, even if it comes from good intentions. I learned that I don’t need to modify my body to be comfortable in it. Just a little, I learned to be kinder to myself.