Column: Hairy people: a product of No Shave November

Maya Peirce

Maya Peirce, Co-Editor

It’s not an easy topic to discuss. You’re sitting in class one day and the person next to you decided it was nice enough to wear shorts, sporting several centimeters of leg hair. Maybe someone stretches a little too far and you find yourself face-to-armpit with a patch of hair. And everyone’s had the experience with the ‘close talker’, just this particular one has a faint hairline along the lip.

Now, who did you picture: a guy or a girl? Most people would scrunch their nose at the thought of a girl producing hair anywhere other than their head. First reactions would be, “She needs to shave,” but have you ever thought about why people jump to these conclusions?

In this society, there’s a lot of separation among gender: who gets to wear certain clothing, play certain sports, and even like certain colors. These divisions defined by masculinity and femininity dictate how and why we do things, which is why events like No Shave November are so popular. They equalize all parties; at least, they’re supposed to.

While guys focus mainly on their faces for the morning shave, women have so much more to consider: monthly eyebrow waxing, nightly shaving rituals, maybe even using products like Nair and burning hair off their bodies. It’s outrageous to keep girls to an impossible standard of shaving everywhere, everyday, when guys get to walk razor-free without so much as a comment. If their beards brush the floor, it’s seen as their choice, maybe even something respectable. Even the growing fame of the stylish “man bun” has become a goal to accomplish.

For girls, it’s completely different. If you look up the words “what guys look for in a girl” on the Internet, nine times out of ten it’ll say something about being hairless. Teenage bloggers and YouTube superstars take the stand and announce to young, impressionable girls that to be perfect you must meet a specific set of criteria. That can even mean shaving arm hair, which, to me, seems like a completely ridiculous fad.

Why are girls expected to shave under their arms and ridiculed at even a glance of stubble? If your defense is hygene, then why do boys not have to do the same? If men sweat more than women, then they should have to shave just as much as girls.

Guys don’t usually neglect shaving because of cost. In fact, it’s much more expensive for girls to shave than guys, even if they don’t do it on a regular basis. It’s the difference between “Gillette” and “Gillette: Venus.” Last time I checked, razors were inanimate objects. So why do we assign gender characteristics to our shaving kits? A man’s razor and a can of Barbasol can be a cheap buy, while women spend triple. That’s $3 extra just to get the pink version of the same tool.

By participating in No Shave November, girls would not only save a couple bucks, but some time. Shaving is a time consuming event for both guys and girls, especially if done the right way. That’s twenty extra minutes of sleep or homework time, which is invaluable if you follow a busy schedule. No Shave November is an excuse to not have to worry about that prickly stubble. Many people treat it as exclusive to one gender, but sometimes that isn’t the case.

Girls aren’t the only ones being shorted freedom of body hair. If a man chooses to shave his arms or legs, he’s perceived as less masculine as soon as the razor touches his skin. It’s seen as gross and unnatural, the exact opposite of what it means for a girl. Sometimes people just don’t like hair, and it’s insane to hold that against them when it doesn’t affect you on a personal level.

It’s a judgement shallow to its very roots and harmful in practice. Hair is a natural thing; it was put on our bodies for a reason, and to make people feel disgusting for owning it is just unnecessary. And it’s the same for people who do shave everywhere, guy and girl. Think about why you make fun of them before you point it out to your friends just for a laugh.

I’m not saying that to be happy you have to trash your razor immediately. That would put me right back in with the rest of the peer pressure. You don’t have to stop shaving, just make sure you know if you’re doing it for the right reason. Is it to appease the people around you? Or is it to make you feel more confident? It’s a question of being comfortable in your own body, enough to draw attention away from the small details, even a couple centimeters of leg hair.