To the devil with this expectation

Okay as most people know (at least American) beauty culture expects women to shave their armpits and legs. I know simply by virtue of it being an imposed expectation I don’t like it. Seriously who the hell has any business telling someone what they should to be considered beautiful right? But there’s nothing like a little personal experience right?*

About two weeks ago I decided out of curiosity to shave the hair from under my arms. Having shaved my face for about 15 years I knew enough about hair to know what would happen when I shaved under my arms. And boy did it happen.

I really didn’t like it. I mean yeah it felt smooth for the first day or so but the bumping that happens after shaving was really uncomfortable. The itching is maddening.

Like I said I tried this out because simply to get an idea of what it felt like. But since I am already against the idea of imposing unfair beauty expectations on people the discomfort of trying to conform just makes it even worse.

This experiment makes me wonder. As I said I’ve been shaving my face for about 15 years at this point I wonder if I do it because I like the way my face looks when shaven or because I’m caught up in the expectation of shaving so that society will not write me off as a dirty grizzly man.

* – I know that not being a woman I’m not getting the full experience of knowing how it feels to have society expecting me to shave my arm pits (I have my own set of societal expectations to deal with).

This entry was posted in Body image, Gender, Random, Stupid and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to To the devil with this expectation

  1. Melissa says:

    Haha, awesome. Just wait’ll you try the Brazillian bikini wax, it’s delightful.
    (I don’t know which hurts more, the procedure, or the pricetag…)

    • Danny says:

      Actually I had a small comment on that that I too out. You can’t wax what you’ve already shaved off…

    • April says:

      You know, I’ve always considered that particular body area to be equal in terms of societal expectations for hair/hair removal. I mean obviously, the pictures in Playboy and mainstream hetero porn usually consist of completely hairless vaginal area, but in the “real world,” it seems like it’s expected of both genders to at least trim, and totally not unexpected for either one to be hairless (speaking heterosexually, in this case).

      Just a side thought to that whole thing…

  2. April says:

    That’s awesome that you tried this.

    When I first started becoming more interested in gender issues, I decided to stop shaving my legs for a year. It was weird, because I wasn’t used to it, but I liked it. I still do sometimes now, though, if only because it’s just easier to not go out of my way to make a point about gender expectations all the time, when someone might ask. But I hope that soon enough, I stop caring altogether.

  3. kissiegrrrl says:

    Ahh, gender expectations. One of my top ten favorite things to get all riled up about.

    Although it’s taken me years to get to this place, and sadly, I’m a long way away from applying this to other areas of beauty standard nonsense, I believe firmly that one’s hair removal regimens should have everything to do with practicality and hygiene decisions made by the individual who owns the hair. Society/friends/partners need to stay out of it.

    Personally, I don’t shave my legs between September and May, haven’t for about a decade. I’m skinny- it helps to have more insulation in the winter and it literally feels cooler in the summer. At the same time, while I don’t feel aesthetically compelled to shave my armpits, I do because I don’t wear deodorant, so I smell better for it (office acceptable).

    On top of that, I would estimate that nearly half the women I work with have a similar mix, or just don’t shave at all for political and personal reasons. No one bats an eye at work. Not to mention, that one I’ve ever dated has complained of my legs in the winter, and if they did, I’d know things were unlikely to work out with someone so shallow.

    Maybe I’m all screwy on this expectation due to my early hair removal/gender shakeup: my dad has shaved his pits 4 times a year for as long as I can remember. For the same reason I do. Funny.

    Seriously, sometimes I think it would be best to just move to France, where no one cares about silly things like this.

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  5. 8ball says:

    I’m really sorry I’m so late to this conversation, because I really find this interesting. I’m a male who has recently taken to trying out “manscaping” including under the arms. I like it, actually. Yeah it can be kind’ve uncomfortable at first but I don’t mind it overall.

    Actually, I consider it a cruel irony of nature that the only hair on my body that I actually *like* (on my head) is the only one I’m likely to lose.

    I’ll admit it, I don’t find body hair attractive. On me, on men or on women… But I agree that it should be a individual choice not a societal expectation.

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