Photo courtesy of Teen Vogue
I remember the exact moment I realized I wanted to—no, needed to—shave. In sixth grade P.E. class, stepping onto the basketball court in gym shorts, I noticed a boy sitting at eye level with my legs, staring, and suddenly I became very aware of my prickly hairiness. I. Was. Mortified.
I’m not alone here.
The Makeup Blogger caught up with Fifth Harmony, the feminist strutting girl group, formed on X Factor, and it turns out Ally Brooke and I have something in common. She, too, began shaving due to some form of grade-school peer pressure—for her, it was in fifth grade after noticing it was a locker room ritual. The urge came on a little later for Dinah Jane Hansen: eighth grade.
Here’s the thing: No matter the age, women generally seem to default to going hairless at one point or another. But why? What’s our motivation for shaving really? Are we seeking self-confidence or approval?
The media portrayal of the eager woman dry shaving over the sink before a date or the notion that single gals “let themselves go” and ditch shaving altogether essentially implies that women go hairless to please partners (or potential partners). There may be some truth to that. In the case of my fifth-grade self, it took a male gaze to spark the distorted realization that hair has no place on my female legs.
This year, BIC conducted the BIC Soleil Real Life Optimism survey of 1,000 millennial women in the U.S. to uncover some shaving insights and trends. Almost one-third of them admitted to feeling embarrassed if they’re caught with hairy legs. Unfortunately, that probably comes from our modern culture often depicting feminine body hair as something grotesque. (In pop culture, a “sexy” woman’s body tends to be nothing less than slick and smooth—and if they appear otherwise, it basically characterizes them as some sort of manic-pixie-dream-girl hippie.)
Almost half the millennial women in the survey said that they feel more confident and sexy after they shave their legs, and one-third feel more beautiful and happy. And according to the survey’s conclusions, being clean-shaven can also boost overall optimism, which is probably the highest reward we could hope for. After all, hairy legs or not, radiating positivity is the most attractive thing of all.
Even if some of us do have a subconscious desire to appeal to others with our looks, if grooming ourselves a certain way makes us feel comfortable in our skin, ain’t nothing wrong with that. Everyone has their own ways of amping up their confidence. For the girls of Fifth Harmony, sometimes all it takes is an on-stage hair flip, dramatic eye makeup, red lips, or a topknot to feel like they’re bringing it. Aesthetics may not be everything when it comes to true beauty, but as long as you do you, your best self will shine through.
Tell us about what prompted your first shaving experience.