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‘d love to say my body hair makes me feel wild and free, but it’d be more honest to say it makes me feel conflicted. For every part of me that wants to keep it long as an F-you to what feel like unfair beauty standards, another part — the one that grew up in the 90s and early aughts and was raised on mainstream teen magazines — feels best when I shave it off. I recently explored this conundrum in an Instagram post and was reminded I am not alone. I also learned that a lot more women have body hair than is represented in the media, and that I wanted to change that.

Regardless of my inner conflict, I’m clear on what I want for myself and women everywhere: to feel unburdened, regardless of their choices. And celebrating a wider variety of choices seems like an important step in achieving that. So I asked four women who let their body hair grow free to show me what it looks like and tell me what it feels like to write their own beauty rules. Their answers were nothing short of hopeful. Scroll down to see what Rima, Josie, Camila and Alexandra have to say about body hair.


Rima S., 27, Nanny and Nursing Student

Where do you let your body hair grow?

Legs, arms, upper lip, tummy, armpit, bikini line. The only hairs I groom are my eyebrows.

Have you ever participated in body hair removal? If so, when did you stop and why?

Yes. It’s taken two to three years to get as comfortable with my body hair as I am now. I started with letting my arm pit hair grow out first. It worked as a filter: if someone came up to me at a bar or club I would lift my arm up and if they were judgmental, I would know that they were not the kind of person I wanted to associate with. Most people cared less than I thought.

Are there any challenges that come with keeping your body hair?

I’m still self conscience about how much hair pokes out of the bikini line in most swimsuits. I went to the beach in shorts last summer, but this summer I’ve prepared to go out in a high waist short bottom with a very sporty top to round out the look. The pubic region is a sensitive region. I don’t know when or if I’ll feel comfortable enough to rock a proper bikini. When I started my body hair journey I started a separate Instagram account to document my progress. I was afraid that my friends would get grossed out by my hairy posts. I ended up with a ton of followers, but sadly most of them were men with fetishes. That was disappointing to me because I wasn’t trying to attract men, I was trying to inspire women to love their bodies.

How does your body hair make you feel?

It makes me feel like a grown-up. It makes me feel like I’m in control of my life and how I want to be presented. I get to say what I think beauty is. My happy trail is my favorite. I’ll never shave it again because I think it’s so cute.

What do you wish people thought more about when it comes to this topic?

A very common reaction to body hair (usually from men) is that it’s “dirty.” I always try to remind the people who make that comment that they probably don’t think men’s armpits are “dirty” and that my armpit hair doesn’t stop me from showering.

What advice do you have for women who are thinking of growing out their body hair?

If you grow your leg hair in the winter, your pants will rub on the hairs, leaving them a lot less spikey. Don’t feel guilty if you feel like you want to shave for an event. This is all about you and making yourself feel comfortable. I have very dark hair, so every once in a while I like to use creme bleach to make my hairs less noticeable. There is nothing wrong with not wanting your body hair to be the first thing people notice about you. There are tons of different people out there, but only one you.

Follow Rima on Instagram.


Josie Fillat, 26, Marketing Assistant

Where do you let your body hair grow?

Armpit, bikini line, calves, ‘stache

Have you ever participated in body hair removal?

Yes! I swam and did ballet, so as soon as my hair peeked past the elastic of my underwear, I had my mom take me to get waxed. Hair was NOT accepted at my school. Kids were ruthless and I wasn’t cool. Having hair on display scared me. I have a very light mustache, but the worst people always noticed it. I hated shaving my pits, even though exposing them au naturel terrified me. One day I wore a sweatshirt for an entire dance class even though the radiators were on blast because I had a little bit of pit hair.

When I stopped shaving my armpits, I was in art school, surrounded by smart, beautiful, talented, hairy women. It was a safe place for me to make the first step in accepting my hair. I haven’t shaved my pits since 2011. They’re lovely and have the cutest baby curl.

I’m still getting used to my pubic hair. It goes down my thigh, past the booty shorts. You know, I don’t even know if that’s “normal” because I’ve never noticed someone else with that kind of wandering hair, not that I’m actively looking. This is my first summer of skipping out on the wax. My goal is to feel completely free, as I do with my pits. I’m getting there.

Are there any challenges that come with keeping your body hair?

For me it’s all mental; I’m still working through the stigmas. I tried on a pair of shoes the other day and I was extremely self-conscious about my calves being so hairy. I am very lucky in that I haven’t had outside trouble in a while. The only people who comment on my hair are my dad and my boyfriend. My dad isn’t into body hair on women and my boyfriend hates the feeling of hairy calves. (I love throwing them under the bus.) Everyone says that their pits are stinkier with hair but I don’t get that.

How does your body hair make you feel?

Free. Confident. Self-conscious. Aware.

What do you wish people thought more about when it comes to this topic?

That it’s not revolutionary, it’s genetics. When I think about my mustache and my thick, dark hair, I think of my European ancestors. Your hair is who you come from, just like your eyes, lips and teeth. I love that. When I think about my bush, I think of bodies in the wilderness; we grow a natural blanket of protection. Then there is the issue of who is allowed to get away with not shaving, which is bogus. Those who are prejudiced [against body hair] should feel awkward for their backward thinking.

What advice do you have for women who are thinking of growing out their body hair?

Do whatever feels comfortable for you. If someone says something about your hair, laugh at them (unless you don’t feel safe). It’s too silly to care; we have bigger things to worry about than hair. (Also, not an ad: I recommend Alaffia deodorant — no stinky pits, no residue, sexy smell.)

Follow Josie on Instagram.


Camila Buxeda, 27, Illustrator

Where do you let your body hair grow?

Everywhere!

Have you ever participated in body hair removal?

My body hair and I have had an on-and-off relationship since I was 15. My mother is an ex-beauty queen and had this idea of beauty that I didn’t agree with. I slowly parted ways with those mainstream ideals in search of what made me feel comfortable and what I found beautiful. When I was 21, I stopped shaving completely, stopped waxing my eyebrows and stopped caring about those particular beauty aesthetics. I decided to appreciate what nature gave me: HAIR.

Are there any challenges that come with keeping your body hair?

Not really, it’s very low-maintenance. I don’t have to worry about shaving before I wear a short dress or go sleeveless! People do make snarky remarks, but not in a way that affects me emotionally. I’ve found that people who criticize or judge others (especially for something as minimal as body hair) are very insecure. I’ve had my body hair so long that people’s remarks don’t affect me. I actually get more shit for having tattoos than for having body hair.

How does your body hair make you feel?

It really doesn’t make me feel anything. It’s just hair, everyone has it.

What do you wish people thought more about when it comes to this topic?

I wish it were as normal as anything else. Body hair shouldn’t be taboo; women had body hair all through history until the 1900s. It’s not gross, most men have all types of body hair — why is that accepted?

I feel people should do whatever it is that makes them happy and be proud of being an individual. In the age of social media, that can be really difficult, and American beauty standards have always been pretty bizarre, to a point where some women go through countless amounts of physical changes to be “comfortable” with what other people think about them because of what society taught them is beautiful. I wish people were more secure with their natural selves and did not want to fit into this box of what other people think beauty is. Most women complain about having to shave/wax, so why do it? For whom? For themselves or for societal acceptance?

One day I just decided that I loathed shaving and didn’t enjoy the beauty rituals; they were emotionally draining to me. We shouldn’t have to change our physical appearance for acceptance.

What advice do you have for women who are thinking of growing out their body hair?

GO FOR IT! Break those body hair stigmas! Use your extra waxing money on treating yourself!

Follow Camila on Instagram.


Alexandra Dorschner, 22, Actor/Model/Artist

Where do you let your body hair grow?

Armpits, legs, crotch

Have you ever participated in body hair removal?

Yes, I shaved from 5th grade to 12th grade. I started shaving because all of my classmates in elementary school would make fun of me for how hairy I was, saying I looked like the boys in my class (which I didn’t see an issue with because I hung out with all the boys, but I still felt that I needed to shave it off).

I stopped shaving my last year of high school because I was really coming into a new form of myself! I was in love with how I looked with body hair, especially under my armpits, and it was satisfying to do something that felt true to me and was definitely not the norm where I was from. I still got hated on a bit but I felt my queer self staring to expand and be loved by myself.

Are there any challenges that come with keeping your body hair?

I have not had any trouble with my body hair physically. I haven’t really had any issues with ingrown hairs or anything like that. It’s more of a challenge of how people can’t help but stare or get uncomfortable even though there is a much bigger population of femmes who don’t shave their body hair now. It also makes it harder for me as an actor to break certain molds or fit into the industry. Even though I think now is my time! It is more of a social and professional challenge.

How does your body hair make you feel?

My body hair makes me feel so beautiful and fun and at home. I really do adore it.

What do you wish people thought more about when it comes to this topic?

1: Almost everyone grows hair all over their body.

2: It is a choice to not shave any of it because I happen to own my own body. Yes, femmes too.

3: I’m sexy.

What advice do you have for women who are thinking of growing out their body hair?

I would advise women and femmes considering growing out their body hair to do it! Is it sometimes difficult socially? Yes, absolutely. But is it who you are? Then you should be able to do it without shame! And I support you, beautiful!

Follow Alexandra on Instagram.

Photos by Suzanne Saroff; Art Direction by Emily Zirimis.

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