Women’s body hair standards are toxic, should be free to choose whether they shave


Last year, after experiencing painful razor bumps, irritation and itchiness after shaving, I decided to put down the razor for good. For over a year, I’ve left my leg hair alone even during shorts and swimsuit season. It was a decision that only came with benefits for me; I didn’t need to spend time or money shaving, and I didn’t care about the cosmetic aspect. I wasn’t at all bothered by my body hair, and that made me wonder why I had ever started shaving in the first place.

The origin of women’s shaving only weakens its argument for necessity. According to the Smithsonian Institute, advertisers were the ones who introduced the idea of women shaving as styles evolved in the 1920s to reveal legs and shorten sleeves. Gillette and other companies at the time promoted the idea that body hair was masculine and a sign of bad hygiene. The motivation of these claims was not for the benefit of women, but to expand the shaving market. Nevertheless, their methods were effective, and the stigma of body hair on women persists even today. 

Taking care of leg hair is incredibly inconvenient. To have stubble-free legs, women need to shave every one or two days. Waxing, which takes off a longer section of the hair follicle, is expensive and usually only lasts two weeks. Shaving, and waxing especially, can cause skin irritation and inflammation. Alternatively, the only consequence to having leg hair is up to cosmetic preference.

It’s the middle of No-Shave November right now, also known as Movember, the month of letting men grow out their facial hair. I believe women right now should consider putting aside their shaving routines in honor of the no-shaving trend, and even consider quitting for good. These trends shouldn’t be restricted to a single month. Instead, women should consider them as a starting point.

If nothing else, this month you should consider the reason why you are shaving; is it for yourself, or is it because everyone else does it? Do the positives really outweigh the negatives? If we could collectively decide that shaving is a thing of the past, maybe we could stop for good. Maybe flaunting body hair could even become the new normal.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Riley TerBush at [email protected] Read more of her works here. Read more of the HiLite issues here.