It is Thanksgiving and I am at the beach. I have not shaved my legs or my armpits for nearly two months. Well, I have not taken any sort of razor to any other areas, either, if you get my drift. I stopped when I wore pants all the freaking time and my skin never saw the light of day. I stopped while I was in the cold, and I kept at it, this resistance, this “strike”, this experiment. It is still going on today.
I have always thought the obsession with body hair is ridiculous. We have hair on and around our bodies for a reason. I know that now more than ever. These hairs, and the hair in general, serve a purpose. Body hair (which we have everywhere in case you did not notice) is a covering that helps us regulate temperature and alerts us to invaders. Though I hate that feeling of something crawling on me, body hair is the number one way to know that something is amiss on our skin. The hairs feel wind and bugs and fabrics and temperatures. These hairs feel things that are rough and soft, things that belong and that do not belong. This covering of hair has a purpose, even if that purpose is mostly now gone.
I get that our current body hair situation is part of our evolution and that we do not have the same needs we did thousands of years ago. We now have clothes and temperature regulated environments. We live and work indoors, and we are no longer at the mercy of the elements. Then again, I am now living outside and I rely on my body and my senses to keep me safe and free from harm. So, while I jokingly talk about “no shave November” starting last September, I am really not kidding. I have not shaved for several months.
I started not shaving when the weather turned and there was not the usual situations where one would work to conform to the current body hair standards. Basically, those standards today are to have none if you are a woman and be sparse if you are a man. During this pilgrimage I shaved during the summer when and where I was able, though there were times I got a little fuzzy. Then I started to realize that nobody knew the difference. Nobody even saw me outside of my clothes or got that close to my body, so who the fuck cares?
I have had previous times in my life when I resisted the societal pressures of conformity and stopped shaving. I always did this in the winter, and recall at least once where I tried to maintain my hairy self in the summer. I caved when people started to stare and one of my friends would not stop admonishing me. My partner during these years never cared, though he was and still is himself quite the hair farmer.
Me, personally, I love the texture and the feel of body hair. I am also what you would call a sensory person. I like to use all or as many of my senses when I am experiencing the world. I will feel and look at clothes I am trying on, I want to touch any art I am looking at, and I will look and taste and smell and even touch my food so that I can get as much out of the experience as possible. I enjoy the variety of sights, sounds, smells and textures our world has to offer. I am often using more than one sense when I am doing anything. So, it really should be no surprise that I find body hair attractive and a fun part of the overall intimate experience.
In years past, my body hair situation was more abundant. I mean, my legs were fairly covered and one would be hard pressed to know my gender with just a lower leg view. These days, my situation is changing because of my age and hormonal status. So, this fall when I chose to stop shaving due to the weather, I noticed I have less hair in the same areas as previous “no shave Novembers.” I also noticed that it was hard to notice my body hair, especially since nobody really gets close to me. I mean, I do not share intimate space with anyone and people in the general public usually do not stare or look at each other for long. Usually.
As I transitioned from colder weather to warm weather I started to rethink shaving. I usually only have sporadic access to a shower and, frankly, questioned why I needed to shave, anyway. My leg hair is much lighter and sparse than in years gone by, and you can barely see what is under my arms. So, I chose to let it go and see what happens. See if I caught anyone staring or noticing or looking longer than is appropriate or welcome.
That was nearly two months ago and I still have not taken razor to skin. I am on the beaches of Southwest Florida and have not removed any of my body hair. OK, I take that back. I am still working on brows and chin. That has been a constant during this entire journey. It is easy to sit in the tent on a dark evening and pluck away at my facial hair. A ritualistic practice that I find quite soothing, as a matter of fact. Much more simple than trying to shave in a public shower with limited space and sometimes limited hot water and only soap as a lubricant.
I have been traipsing all over the pool and the gulf and the stores and breweries of Florida with my hairy self. First, let me clarify that my current posse are all over 75. Sadly, they do not hear well and I am pretty sure nobody can see that sort of detail, so none of them would be able to tell the difference. There is that. But, I have been out and around others whose eyes are better and who would have the ability to see the detail. Still, nobody has stared too long or talked behind me back (that I know of) or given me a look that would indicate my experiment is a failure. Basically, I barely give it any thought anymore as my hair has started to bleach out in the sun. I mean, you have to get right on my leg to even see and there is nobody that is getting that close to me these days. Sadly, nobody.
Now that I am tan again, it is even harder to tell what is happening on my skin or under my arms or amongst my lower legs. On the one hand, it is liberating to not have the worry of stubble or shaving all the time. On the other hand, I still worry that someone, somewhere will have a negative reaction and I will be shamed for my choice. I worry I will be stared at and vilified for sporting the body hair God gave me. Though it is much lighter and more sparse than ever before, I am still conscious that it is here, or there, or wherever it may be. However, any partner of mine will not only have to bring his own hair to the situation, I expect him to not just tolerate, but relish in all the sensory experiences of the bodies that will make up our partnership. A future partner of mine will not only embrace all that is me, but will enjoy the diverse playground I will have to offer. In return, I shall happily do the same.
Soon, I will continue on my journey. I will leave the sunny and warm beaches of Florida for the Gulf coast, then travel inland working my way towards Arizona. I will return to my world of dirt and sweat and wind and rain and limited access to water. I will resist the unseen and unspoken forces that dictate the state of my body hair and I will carry on as if it does not matter. Because it does not. What I do for work, how I dress , where I live or the status of any of my hair does not define me as a person. These parts of my exterior may, or may not, even give you a hint of what lies inside. You will miss out of you judge THIS book by her cover.
Cheers to breaking convention and embracing our selves!