Physique Hair Is a Type of Gender Expression For LGBTQ+ Individuals

Body Hair Is a Form of Gender Expression For LGBTQ+ People

For many years, physique hair was solely deemed “acceptable” by society if it was grown by a person. Girls, then again, have been conditioned by media to shave their legs, armpits, and pubic hair. Now, after years of shaming (and due to body-hair optimistic razor manufacturers like Billie educating individuals on gender inequalities like “pink tax” and celebrities overtly discussing this double commonplace), the general public notion is lastly altering — and the LGBTQ+ group is main the cost.

For a lot of queer individuals, physique hair is integral to their gender expression. I finished shaving throughout my sophomore yr of faculty, which was the identical yr that I got here out as queer. A part of what led to my determination was the conclusion that I used to be by no means shaving for myself — I did it as a result of I felt obligated to.

Rising up, I shaved to be perceived as “regular” and “civilized” via the eyes of different individuals. Once I began puberty, it was shortly instilled in me by my mother and father, my friends, and the media I consumed that I need to take away each final hint of hair on my physique. Having easy pores and skin 24/7 was the one feminine magnificence commonplace that I ever noticed mirrored in vogue magazines and popular culture. I used to be beneath the impression that shaving was not solely an choice, however moderately a requirement.

For almost a decade of my life, even the slightest trace of hair on my physique would set off disgrace and disgust. If I ever deliberate on baring my legs or armpits in public — whether or not or not it’s on a date, assembly, or nighttime outing — the razor would at all times come out. Being seen in public with out shaving grew to become my biggest nightmare. It wasn’t till I went to school and met different girls who flaunted their leg hair proudly that I noticed not shaving was an choice.

As soon as I shed my preconceived notions and began rising out the hair on my legs and armpits, it was liberating. It felt symbolic of not solely my queerness however my newfound love of my physique.

As soon as I shed my preconceived notions and began rising out the hair on my legs and armpits, it was liberating. It felt symbolic of not solely my queerness however my newfound love of my physique.

Many different queer individuals share on this expertise. Numerous celebrities who determine as LGBTQ+ — from Amandla Stenberg to Rowan Blanchard to Miley Cyrus — have publicly embraced the hair on their our bodies. In a video by self-identified lesbian YouTuber Rowan Ellis titled, “Why I Don’t Shave My Legs,” she stated: “It wasn’t till I began to consider [shaving] critically that I noticed I used to be solely doing it for different individuals. [Even when I questioned why I was doing it], I nonetheless felt very anxious and self-conscious, and it wasn’t till I used to be in these areas with queer girls particularly, that it was one thing that I used to be capable of embrace and be open about.”

Jesse Ludington, a lesbian poet and author, advised me that she did not notice not shaving was even an choice till she acquired to school. “It had been ingrained in me that shaving was merely what girls needed to do,” she stated. “The patriarchal best of a girl is somebody who’s at all times completely easy so, in a approach, I really feel like not shaving my legs can generally be a technique to sign that I do not adhere to the patriarchal mannequin of womanhood.”

In line with a 2017 study from Mintel, 23 p.c of ladies reported that they do not shave. 4 years later, and I can solely assume that quantity is now a lot greater, particularly as a result of the research by no means mentions queer girls. As an Autostraddle contributor wrote: “No person loves fucking up the patriarchy and gender expectations like queer girls and people.”

It should even be famous that not all people’s journey is similar. Kennedy (who’s title has been modified to guard their identification), a trans femme musician, advised me that whereas she just isn’t a fan of shaving, her physique hair can nonetheless set off dysphoria. “I used to get dysphoric about having physique hair and would shave all of it off each different weekend or so,” she stated. “As I’ve progressed with HRT and have been socially remoted due to the pandemic, I’ve thought much less and fewer about it. I am at the moment at a degree the place I want to not have it, however that need would not outweigh my hatred for really shaving it off.”

The truth that girls are anticipated to shave whereas males usually are not additionally contributes to Western tradition’s unfair infantilization of ladies. Once I requested Kim Elsesser Ph.D., a researcher and creator of Intercourse and the Workplace: Girls, Males and the Intercourse Partition that is Dividing the Office, why girls really feel obligated to shave for different individuals, she stated, “Whereas I actually do not imagine that those that shave take into consideration this on a aware degree, encouraging girls to look like younger, prepubescent ladies just isn’t very empowering.”

Maura P. Quinlan, MD, an OB/GYN at Northwestern Medical, agreed. “A variety of my sufferers really feel obligated to shave their pubic hair, and I attempt to encourage them to not. I hope that if extra girls can see celebrities like Miley Cyrus embracing their physique hair, then it’ll open up a risk for them to depart it as properly. There’s one thing very releasing about authenticity, particularly with millennials and Gen Z.”

Whereas LGBTQ+ girls and nonbinary people appear to be driving the physique hair positivity motion, what I hope it achieves is that extra girls total will acknowledge that shaving would not should be a requirement. I additionally hope that the rising variety of individuals embracing their pure physique hair will present younger ladies in all places — straight and queer alike — that whether or not or not they determine to shave, what’s vital is that they really feel empowered figuring out it is their proper to decide on.


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