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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Bodies » Shaving/ Getting 'used to' not shaving

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Author Topic: Shaving/ Getting 'used to' not shaving
thismoment
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I have read the post on shaving. If this isn't allowed, then that's understandable, but I think it relates to sexuality in that it is part of how people try and group us - because I am female, I am expected (by the vast majority) to shave/ wax my legs.

I'd like to know how people worked out what they are happy with shaving-wise? Whether anyone has decided to stop shaving? Whether people ever get people really staring? (And do you say anything?) Whether you think it's important?

In hindsight, I'd never have begun shaving if I'd have had the guts to get past the girls and boys at PE time who would stare if you didn't; it'd have stopped my hair from growing so thick now.

I find myself frustrated because, due to having shaven for the past few years the hair on my lower legs (didn't bother with the thighs ever!) is now thicker. So I thought maybe I could wax a few times, which would make it thinner, and then I can stop shaving. I don't want to stop now because I feel like it's unnaturally thick and overly noticeable - moreso than the hair on my thighs, but then I think waxing = pain, so surely it isn't sensible for me to be doing this for my 'good'.

And when I think some more, I come to the point that I am not often shaving for my own 'good' - after all, I end up spending time doing it when I'd rather be doing something else if it was socially accepted to not shave. I like to shave under my arms because I think it keeps me smelling fresher - when I do sport the sweat doesn't get trapped so I smell cleaner for longer... but otherwise, I'm doing it for other people. To avoid the stares, to avoid 'friends' enquiring, to be able to feel like I can wear a skirt/ shorts and people don't say that I shouldn't...

I'm posting this because I'm more bothered about people's opinions and how they have worked around this personally than the facts, and I'm posting it because I think the body image thing has a lot to do with sexuality and how we try to fit into it, in the way we are often taught that certain parts should/shouldn't be shaven, or that we are somehow less masculine/ feminine/ pretty/ ugly/ young/ etc if we do/ don't...

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JamsessionVT
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I hear you, thismoment.

I think you'll find a lot of young women feel the same way; that it's more socially acceptable for women to shave their legs/remove body hair than it is for us to keep it.

(As a side note, the notion that hair grows back "thicker" after you shave is a myth: it appears this way because hair naturally grows with a taper end. When you shave, the hair grows back with a blunt end, making it look thicker, when in reality it's just an illusion.)

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-Jill
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I don't shave and haven't in nearly ten years. That means I did have to deal with the occasional stare during P.E. and had to field lots of questions over the years, but it probably isn't anywhere near as bad as you think.

I frequently go out in shorts and a tank top but it's truly pretty rare that people notice -- or at least make it obvious they've noticed. Every now and then someone will give me a rather startled look or ask a question, but that's usually because they don't see too many women with body hair and are curious. Rarely, someone will make a rude remark but not often enough to bother me.

What I get most often is women saying the same things you are -- that they aren't sure they want to shave anymore but they don't want to have to deal with other people commenting on their choices. That, and that alone, is why I think it's important that I don't shave. So many women seem relieved to know that there are women who feel the same way.

My big reasons for quitting shaving were I didn't like the appearance or feel of being hairless and I didn't like the time it took to get that way. As that it was my time and my body, I didn't feel I had to meet someone else's standards. If you feel the same way, I think it would worth it to try a couple of months without shaving. You may have a few unpleasant conversations but you may also feel a new ownership of your body.

Did I cover everything? I'll answer more questions if you have them. Nicole's article might be of interest as well: Hair, There and Everywhere

[ 04-26-2008, 05:35 PM: Message edited by: -Jill ]

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Typical Young and Dumb Teenager?
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Well, I shave, but I surely dont like doing it. On average, I shave 'there' and my legs two times a week, but like most girls, its more of a 'have to' thing. I have to shave my pits almost daily, and I find it extremely aggravating. Not to mention, that my legs never feel 'cleanly shaved', and Im not even sure why.

I dont really feel comfortable when I dont shave because I feel as if I will be judged. However, I know that one of my 'best friends' rarely ever shaves her legs, and although we all pick, in a joking manner of course, about her being chewbakka, we dont love her any more or less than any of the rest 'the girls'.


So;

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feefiefofemme
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I haven't shaved my legs for... about two years now, I think. Toward the end of eighth grade, I just decided to stop. This means I only actually shaved for a couple years, because I didn't start shaving until near the middle of sixth grade. I still shave my armpits, mostly because I don't really like wearing deodorant when my underarms are hairy. But during the winter when I wear long sleeves, I sometimes go a week or more without shaving at all.

I've never had anyone say something negative to me about my choice not to shave (my mother excepted), and I've never really noticed any strange looks. But I'm fairly sure that people talk behind my back about it, because I've had people say mean-spirited things to me before about other people not shaving. I don't really care, though, because I think my leg hair is cute.

The only thing that can be slightly awkward is when someone talks about how they "need to shave" or how their legs are getting "gross and prickly" around me. I usually just sort of make a vague sympathetic noise and change the subject.

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thismoment
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(As a side note, the notion that hair grows back "thicker" after you shave is a myth: it appears this way because hair naturally grows with a taper end. When you shave, the hair grows back with a blunt end, making it look thicker, when in reality it's just an illusion.) -- does this go away if you wax? I wish I'd never shaved and it didn't look like it does. I find it so difficult trying to just accept that this is the way it is now.

Jill, I think one of the things I find most difficult is my parents and siblings reactions to it. My parents have verbally voiced that they find it 'disgusting' and 'unfeminine' and 'lazy' of me and other women if/ when they opt out of shaving. I remember when a neighbour didn't shave her arms (for a couple of days?) and they commented, saying how awful, and how she shouldn't be wearing a top which showed her armpits - like it was something disgusting to cover up. I remember commenting that I thought it was actually pretty cool, because she was obviously more relaxed and didn't bother wasting the time on it, but then I think about the way people react to it...

I think I could manage wearing shorts, but I can't imagine myself wearing a skirt or a dress without having shaven my legs... and this because I see a skirt/dress as more feminine, I know, and I really hate that I wouldn't be comfortable doing that. Like... it disappoints me that I wouldn't have the guts to feel comfortable. I have a relatively formal event this summer, and it's advised of girls to wear 'a skirt or dress' (!) - I can't imagine feeling attractive/ comfortable wearing a floaty dress with unshaven legs. I should probably wear trousers to the said formal event anyway, too piss them off especially! I just really want to be able to get over this, but I don't think I can. Maybe the way to go is to get rid of the dresses? [Confused] That article's really interesting, thanks, I can definitely empathise with it! But, you know, did you notice how the times she shaved was for homecoming and the prom - the typical times we're most under pressure to conform to the ideal of beauty [Frown]

I also really remember my ex-boyfriends remarks on shaving, which were hardly accepting of when I didn't want to shave. Part of this makes me want to do it even less, to actually be proud to make the action of not shaving, but then I don't know about the remarks. Jill, did you not find that younger women particularly make remarks? I think maybe older women wouldn't so much, but I can imagine younger girls doing. They definitely look more obviously when I'm swimming or whatever.

BiGoddess - I completely get what you're saying about people feeling a 'need' to - it's like we feel some crazy compulsion to do it, even though it brings us generally no benefit bar adhering to 'pretty', wastes our time, and has that annoying feeling where the hair starts to grow back...

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AM
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I can sympathize with your dilemma on not wanting to take time out to do something you're not interested in doing, yet also not wanting to be criticized or ridiculed for not shaving. The thing I've come to accept as a truth is that people will always find something to gripe about. So I might as well do what's best for me and try not to worry about it. As tough as that is initially, it does become easier over time. Besides, if the focus wasn't on whether you shave or not, it would likely be on something else just as trivial.

While I do shave, over time it's become such a chore that now it's only done every so often, maybe once every other week. Maybe. Might go 3 weeks though. And what I've found is most people truly do not seem to notice, unless I call attention to it. Even then, most don't have much to say about the matter.

But I do feel you about your family's response. My grandma has a fit when I don't do everything possible to live up to "feminine ideals," but that's okay. That's her. I remind her that she's the love of my life, and that this issue truly isn't worth us arguing or being unhappy with one another. She still freaks out from time to time for various reasons, but over time she's actually started to come around to this "new-age" way of thinking that women need not be bound by such dated expectations. It's just hair, right?

Along this same vein, I've also reduced shaving other areas of my body and haven't had my upper lip waxed in probably a year now. Being a hairy person naturally, I grew up being teased about the dark hair growth on my arms (not in my underarms, mind you, ON my arms) and used to wax that as well, but now it's liberating to just accept that it's a part of who I am.

In terms of waxing and the hair growing back less stubbly, it does seem to help on some body parts (in my case, my arms), though I can't say for all.

[ 04-28-2008, 06:21 PM: Message edited by: AM ]

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Stephanie101
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I am 14, and I shave my legs.

it doesnt cause me any pain what so ever. I just make sure that I use soap or shaving cream [Big Grin] getting cut doesnt even hurt. I usually dont even notice until I see the blood running into the drain hehe! it doesn't take especially long either. If you just do it while you are in the shower and bend down it only takes around 5-10 minutes. Which isnt bad if you leave the conditioner in your hair while you do it [Big Grin] then you get nice smooth hair and soft legs [Big Grin]

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orca
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Stephanie, while your comments may have been intended well, they are completely opposite of what the poster is asking. thismoment wants to be comfortable with not shaving period. She doesn't want to learn how to shave. And even 5-10 minutes every morning can get to be a hassle that a lot of people don't want to deal with.

Really, though, the time issue is only a fraction of the problem and the real issue is that society frowns on something so natural as a little body hair, which is incredibly silly when you think about it. In a way, it is keeping women submissive and slaves to their razors, wax strips, and laser hair removal therapies when they could really be doing something other than worrying about how smooth their legs are. Not to mention, it's all a large waste of money and resources. You ever think about how many razor blades you use in a lifetime? How many wax strips? And all of it sits in landfills.

Okay, I'll stop the environmental protection rant now. [Smile]

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hs123
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Mostly the reason I shave is for the feeling of cleanliness... I understand it's not neccesarily any cleaner than not shaving but it makes me feel clean! I like rubbing my legs together when theyre smooth. Anyways, yeah, I don't shave my thighs though, or my pubic area (and I've had boyfriends, and they never seemed to mind that), and my hair is blonde so even if I dont shave for awhile most people don't notice, unless I point it out to them... (which I do sometimes cuz it makes me laugh that people are fine, until you point out to them that your legs are really hairy and then theyre grossed out by it, but they couldnt see it to begin with- so why does it matter?)

Anyways, I started feeling comfortable with not shaving about 2 years ago, when I had a teacher at art school who hadnt shaved her armpits in... gosh probably 2 years-she probably trimmed them- but the boys in my class were getting extremely grossed out cuz she would wave her arms in the air and she screamed out "Yeah, that's right, get used to it cuz its not goin anywhere!"

And personally, I think that's a good attitude.. I mean, maybe not to scream it, but to not hide it. Cuz, why should we have to?

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-Jill
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(For the record, waxing will not produce the appearance of thicker hair that shaving does. Waxing removes hair by the root so when it grows back it has its natural taper, thus looking as thin as it's going to.)

My immediate family was my biggest source of criticism. I ignored them (mostly, there was the occasional rant about how it was my body) and they eventually backed off.

I think you're right about the differences between older women and younger women in that younger women are more likely to stare or comment. Those comments are almost always based in curiosity instead of criticism. That might be why older women don't comment or look as often: they've had more opportunities to satisfy their curiosity.

I actually feel much more feminine and attractive with my body hair. I went to a wedding last summer in a dress that gave anyone who cared to look a clear view of both my leg and armpit hair and I looked lovely. [Smile] There was one person who asked why I didn't shave, but later that evening he very respectfully told me I had incredible legs.

For me, being hairy is a much better choice than shaving ever was; I have no desire to re. That might not be true for you, but I highly recommend trying it if you're interested. Also, I'd be remiss not to point you to Alix Olson's song "Armpit Hair."

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Rina
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Oh, wow, I never realized just how in the minority I am. I HATE body hair; I plan to get it permanently removed as soon as I can afford it.

However, I do agree that society needs to care less about what women chose to do with their bodies, especially with something as minor as shaving/waxing.

I started shaving in 5th grade only because I was watching the Disney Channel and in one of the movies (sisters switched bodies...), the older "cooler" sister was talking to her "cool" friends about shaving EVERY DAY. And when her sister switched bodies, the friends noticed A single hair on her thigh. The only reason why I remember any of that is because it influenced my opinion on shaving for so many years.

Now I shave my armpits (daily, sometimes every other day), pubic area (daily-twice a week), legs (daily-weekly), and thighs (every other day-weekly). What I shave when has to do with time, and especially with my pits and pubic hair, what it looks like.

I know for a fact people don't notice my legs unless it's HORRIBLE, I mean even Matt who touches my legs daily, doesn't notice even if it's bad.

You don't know how jealous I am of everyone who can go without shaving and be happy. =]

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libertatissacra
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I remember feeling awkward in middle school gym class because a lot of the other girls shaved their legs and I didn't, but I was too shy to ask my mother about it for some reason. So I just spent those two years feeling awkward and hairy. I think I started shaving the summer after 8th grade.

At first, it was a kind of novelty and I had fun shaving, and really liked how my legs felt when they were smooth, but then, it just started to turn into a hassle...so I stopped shaving. It was never really that big of a deal for me, somehow. Possibly because I wear pants almost all the time, even in the summer, and possibly because my legs just aren't that hairy. *shrug*

I still shave my armpits, just because I find that they get itchy and my deodorant gets clumpy when I don't (though actually, I'm realising as I'm typing this that I haven't shaved my armpits for a good month or so...oh well), and when I get the urge, I will shave my legs from time to time, mostly when I get bored and still have hot water left in the shower or something. It's become something that I do more for entertainment than anything else. On average, I'd say I shave my legs....once every few months, if even that.

Though I've never gotten any funny looks or rude comments about not shaving, a few of my friends have been somehow amazed that it doesn't disgust my romantic/sexual partners when I tell them I rarely shave my legs and don't shave my pubic hair. I found those comments a little odd, because honestly, none of my partners have cared if I shave or not. Even at a friend's "naked party" where I (and everyone else) was prancing around completely nude for hours, having not shaved anything in weeks, nobody even commented on my body hair.

There may be some people who would give you a hard time for not shaving, but overall, I think most people care a lot less about your body hair than you think they will.

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thepurplepoet
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I've wished I'd had the courage to go without shaving at all (I shave legs and armpits semi regularly). I never really had a problem with my body hair...unfortunately other people did. It's annoying that it's barely socially acceptable for women to have body hair, when nature clearly intended us to. After reading this thread I'm tempted to try not shaving again.

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thismoment
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'(waxing will not produce the appearance of thicker hair that shaving does. Waxing removes hair by the root so when it grows back it has its natural taper, thus looking as thin as it's going to.)' - might try this sometime. But I still think I'm a bit of a hypocrite if I do because waxing = painful.

Just to update you all, I've actually not shaved my legs for... 2 months now? More than that? I can't remember the last time I shaved my legs. And, I've worn shorts and skirts too! Isn't it surprising. So far I have had a few looks, and I haven't showed off my legs [Wink] around friends, but I'm sure I will soon. I just need to get a little more comfortable with it myself. My parents have stopped commenting. Since my last post I've had no comments off them about it whatsoever, which is good.

Yeh... well, I hope it's curiosity. Really, I think it's kind of cool that I am doing this, because I feel happier in knowing that I'm only shaving what I want to when I want to. It feels like a lot of freedom in a way! Reminds me of when I gave up makeup (in fact, haven't used any bar lip stuff for months...!) and when I chucked it all away. Now I can buy cinema tickets or something else with the money!

'I actually feel much more feminine and attractive with my body hair. I went to a wedding last summer in a dress that gave anyone who cared to look a clear view of both my leg and armpit hair and I looked lovely. There was one person who asked why I didn't shave, but later that evening he very respectfully told me I had incredible legs.' I still think though, Jill, that he shouldn't be asking. He wouldn't ask a man why they didn't shave their legs or underarms, so why should he ask a woman? :/

And thanks for the hint about that song, I'll try to find it.

Just this thread has made me convinced that we should all only shave what I want if and when I want - if we're actually doing it for ourself... it's clear a lot of people have a similar sentiment! At least I can hopefully be one more person who learns to get used to doing that!

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diamonds4lucy
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Sorry I'm so late to this thread.

I'm the author of Hair, There and Everywhere.

Right now I've found that the people I want in my life are ones who are open minded and accepting.

The other day, I went to have a consultation about a custom tattoo- I haven't shaved my legs in about a month or so, and that's where the tattoo would be- the (male, and I'm assuming heterosexual) tattoo artist didn't bat an eye when we were looking at where the tattoo would be. (I'll have to shave to get the actual tattoo done, of course).

I have to be honest- if my current boyfriend requested that I shave my legs once in a while, I'd be totally cool with it. It's not a huge deal to me- I would be uncomfortable removing all my pubic hair, and my arm hair, but leg/underarms/bikini line are more of a "whatever I feel like" thing. There are some things I'm comfortable changing in some manner for a partner, and some where I'm not. Feeling comfortable in my own skin allows me to be more open, both sexually and emotionally, with my partner.

Now that I'm getting a tattoo, I might want to shave more often to show it off. If I'm wearing a bath suit in public, I might feel more comfortable shaving my bikini line.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that, so far, these things are really only a big deal if you and the people around you make them one.

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selina
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my mum and her freinds are typical middle eastern women who encouraged sugaring and threading so she's booked me in for waxing and stuff which i hate more than anything but if it means its easier for me later on (i am a female gorilla [Razz] ) than i'll go along with it. if i don't shave, i cover up. some of my freinds wax their arms but i'm not bothered by that. i only really routinely shave under my arms to be honest becuase its more hygenic. one thing is certain, i will never remove pubic hair. its part of me. if a guy prefers a girl, he should not go after a woman and insult her by saying that he likes no hair. i have hair and i choose how i make myself look

[ 05-22-2008, 12:40 PM: Message edited by: selina ]

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thismoment
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Coastal Nicole - I think I understand what you're saying but I do think that hair removal is a large issue for people where I live - something that people fuss over a lot, in the majority. Why else would we bother to remove it, have so many products, and so much marketing for it? I don't think women chose to make it an issue - I think it's part of the way of controlling women by encouraging them to adhere to ridiculous 'beauty standards'...

Selina - I'd like to think that you and I could both not feel the need for things which we 'hate more than anything' in return for things being 'easier' because we fit a female stereotype. We shouldn't feel the need to cover up, and I think it's as insulting that we might feel this need as it is for a man to demand that a woman removes her pubic hair for his 'pleasure'/ exertion of control.

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Heather
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quote:
I don't think women chose to make it an issue - I think it's part of the way of controlling women by encouraging them to adhere to ridiculous 'beauty standards'...
Save that you have to bear in mind that some women play a very big part in making it or keeping it a standard, and plenty of women enable the whole works. While few cosmetics companies or women's magazines, for instance, are actually owned by women, plenty of women choose to work in and profit from those and stick with and push the party line. Plenty of women will also say "eeew" to a woman who doesn't remove her body hair; plenty of women are bosses at workplaces which make standards like these a requirement.

In other words, these standards are made and kept powerful by people, and while some of those people are men, some of them are also women, too. [Frown]

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Inhibition
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I shaved for a while--just my legs, I couldn't get used to shaving my pubic hair and for some reason I've never had armpit hair--and that was pretty enjoyable. The results weren't perfect, but I still felt good because I always put on lotion afterwards and made them all smooth and happy. Recently, however, I realized that I really liked having hairy legs. It's kind of weird. Part of it is that hairy legs are warmer, so whenever I touch them they are like little heaters. I don't know. It is just a choice that makes me happy.

Sometimes I feel anxiety; I know a lot of my friends are appalled with themselves when they don't shave their legs, but I have to wonder: maybe, inside, we all like having hairy legs. In this case there is a (skin)deeper social issue that should be addressed: women do have hair on their bodies, and if you don't love it you have to respect it.

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smokey
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I'm just going to say it's great reading all this stuff and hearing that others are thinking what I have been about body hair... however, I have to say I agree with Coastal Nicole in that I feel it is however big a deal you choose to make it... while I think it's wrong that society should pressure women into shaving or wearing makeup, I don't think it's society that does the judging... it's the reaction to what others say that we choose to have.

I have to say that often I feel judged for caring for my appearance and wanting to be society's image of femininity when I want to be. This is perhaps best shown by the fact that I wear makeup everyday... and I do shave my legs, armpits... trim my pubic hair neatly... and wax my entire face... while I think it's silly that some parts of society regard this as beauty I don't want to feel judged for actually doing this. I know personally that some of my friends can be very in my face about the fact that they don't wear makeup at all and I just want to say: Well good for you *rolls eyes*

I don't want to be called vain for wanting to do something proactive to feel good about myself every once in a while. It's just like how reading a books and going travelling can make you a more worldly wise, intellectual and interesting person... how if you study for a test and put some time into it you will get some good results... I think that your appearance is just another facet of yourself that you can make the most of if you put the time into it.

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thismoment
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smokey -

don't we also have to ask though, is it really making us feel good, or is it just a short-term contentment because we are fitting the acceptable image of femininity.

I'm very much divided on what you say about appearance - sometimes, it is really fun to dress up and look 'beautiful', but I wonder whether this is just because of the attention other people give me if I do this. In other words, isn't appearance just another way of being valided externally? But then that's normal right, because people do judge, and they will always judge, so why not just accept that? These questions are so difficult.

Re: other people trying to make you feel bad/ shame you for the choices you make - I don't think that's a good idea. If we want to make a decision, great, but so long as the other person has a live choice, we shouldn't make them feel bad for their own decision.

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StrangePudding
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I remember when I first started shaving because I had been asking my mum to let me for about a year. I think it was in seventh grade, and I remember very distinctly an incident a few weeks before where a few girls had been feeling each others' legs because they were so soft. One of the girls touched my shin and was just like, 'Oh, prickly!' or something. Not in a mean way at all, but it made me want to have smooth legs even more.

Honestly, now, I don't shave unless I'm going to be wearing a skirt or shorts (and I live in a state with a long winter, so that's not too often!) or I'm going to see my boyfriend. I suppose that means I'm doing it for other people, although I do really enjoy the feeling of my legs when they're all smooth like that. The thing is, though, no one ever ASKS me to shave. My boyfriend's said he wouldn't mind if I don't, and since my hair is blond I don't think anyone's ever noticed when I don't shave unless it's been a very long while. I don't know, it just makes me feel like I've put an effort in to my appearances.

I definitely shave my armpits more than my legs, also because I find it uncomfortable when it gets longer and starts prickling under there. And I would feel VERY uncomfortable wearing a tank top without shaving first. That hair's actually dark, so people can definitely see it. I will admit, I get kind of grossed out if I can see other peoples' armpit hair, even though I know that's superficial. But then, I also get grossed out by huge deodorant marks, so maybe I just don't like armpits in general.

As for pubic hair, I've never shaved it and I'm a little scared to. I don't want to cut myself and I don't want to wax because I've heard horror stories of bleeding from friends. I have trimmed my pubic hair, at my boyfriend's request, because he says it helps him see things better. He also trimmed his, so it was a fair trade [Smile] I know he'd like me to wax or shave, for the same reason, but I don't feel comfortable doing that. I do like how it looks and feels with shorter hair, though, so I think I'm going to keep trimming. Plus, it makes oral sex easier for both of us.

[ 11-11-2008, 04:35 PM: Message edited by: rosalinespork ]

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