Still consider female body hair a taboo? Think again. Here’s a look at real women’s journeys toward embracing body hair.
We have good news: The definition of body positivity is expanding. In addition to encompassing all genders, shapes, and sizes, growing out body hair is now part of the equation. And we have three words: It’s about time.
Body hair is normal for all, including women and genderqueer folks. Yet it’s often a subject of critique for anyone who’s not a man, due to an outdated belief that body hair isn’t compatible with femme beauty. But thankfully, there are folks on Instagram—like Nude Nora and Shari Siadat—who use their platforms to challenge that notion. No matter where it grows, the message is clear: Body hair is nothing to be ashamed of.
While we love a socially prevalent trend, we’re suckers for seeing how it plays out in real life. For that reason, we chatted with a few women on what it’s like to embrace their body hair.
Keep reading for inspiration for body hair positivity and to celebrate beauty beyond conformity.
“Truthfully, as a cis straight woman who feels like a feminine appearance is a constant battle, my body hair still makes me insecure,” Kelsey admits. “I have high testosterone for a woman, and I am a pale person who inherited dark body hair from my dad. (Thanks, genes!)
“As someone who has been shaving since middle school (first my arm hair, then my lady ‘stache, then my lady sideburns), it’s exhausting. It only got worse as I grew older and also developed a lady beard. I have been shaving, plucking, [and] using hair removal products. After college, I even tried laser hair removal and skin-safe bleaches.
“My first romantic partner shamed me for my dark body hair. Later in life, a different partner asked me what my pubic hair would look like if I let it grow; he’d never previously had a partner with a body like mine. I was humiliated because again, I felt othered. His own body had less hair that was also lighter than mine. [However,] he explained that my body hair was actually a turn on for him because it made me more of a woman in his eyes. Later, he became the first partner I lived with, so it was impossible to shave before every naked encounter. In that way, I grew accustomed to him seeing me as I was, and felt more comfortable going longer stretches of time without shaving.
“I know it’s a lame story to say that some partner helped me come to terms with my body. But after being told by my family members, friends, and previous partners that my body hair was something to be ashamed of, it truly helped to be around someone who wasn’t affected by it.
“Additionally, I have a lot of friends in the queer community who let their hair grow out. Seeing body hair on all bodies allows others to feel more comfortable with their own. I also have friends with PCOS who consider themselves cis and straight. They, like me, present feminine and struggle with thick, dark body hair.
“I still shave, and that is my personal choice. But I’m a lot more lax about it. I’m also less insecure about the fact that I can shave at night and wake up hairy the very next day (although it is exhausting). I make jokes about my ‘pelt’ and my lady beard all the time with friends and my partner. That helps me normalize and come to terms with my body hair.
“The moral of the story is to be around people who either don’t care what your body looks like, or who are attracted to you regardless. And that applies to anything: Some people like certain body types, and you will never please everyone. If you are around people who make you feel bad about your body—in any capacity—leave that environment.
“The other moral is that people literally don’t notice. Nobody knew I had a lady beard until I would bring it up with my female friends as a point of insecurity. [Yet] to me, it was so obvious! My arm hair that freaked me out in middle school hasn’t bothered me in years; I never think about it anymore. Sometimes we build our insecurities up in our own head.”
“I’m a boudoir photographer and sex worker; I see a lot of different types of beautiful bodies,” Kactus shares. “In 2016, I photographed a model with body hair for the first time, and I was instantly entranced and inspired. She radiated confidence, beauty, womanhood, and rebellion. She embraced the natural hair her body gave her and she WERKED it!
“A month later, I decided to grow my armpit hair during No Shave November. I loved it so much that I haven’t shaved my armpit hair since then. Also, in the past few years, I’ve grown out my leg hair and my bush hair. Not only do I love the natural look (and so do my fans), but it’s also less work. I don’t have to shave every few days, making my body feel prickly to the touch.
“I joined an uplifting community of other hairy babes in the sex-work world in the last year. We hype each other up, engage in each other’s posts on social media, and we’re here for each other! I’ve never experienced so much love, compassion, beauty, and confident expression.
“This community and my fans have made me feel so much more beautiful in my own skin, unlike where I used to live. I lived in a small town where I stuck out like a sore thumb with my colorful split-dye hair, armpit hair, leg hair, and kute, trendy fashion. I tried to ‘act normal,’ or even above and beyond, so that the people at the grocery store [would] see me as kind, respectful, professional, and a put-together person.
“As a hairy woman, it’s hard to constantly fight the stigma of what I look like so that people will hopefully see me in a ‘better light.’ But I’m happy to be a part of the fight. Let us women decide what’s beautiful to us!”
For more commentary on embracing body hair, check out her appearance on Candy Girl’s podcast.
“I stopped shaving when I was 19,” Jessica shares. “Initially, I was emulating the punk rock body politics of older women in my crowd. I wanted to fit in. But dipping your toe in that sort of freedom—after years of being told all the ways you need to correct your body—feels really good. Sometimes I forget that feeling of freedom.”
After someone commented on her pits a few years ago, Jessica gave her take on why she prefers to embrace her body hair. The women then responded “with some good advice I’ll never forget: ‘You don’t need an excuse to do want you want with your body. It’s yours.’”
The moral of the story? Body hair is beautiful.
For so long, female body hair has been stigmatized, making women who have fast-growing or darker body hair feel as though they must, without question, remove it to be considered beautiful.
But the body hair movement has something to say about that.
If growing out body hair is your jam, by all means, feel free to do so and flaunt it proudly. If styling or removing your body hair is your preference, that’s cool, too. At the end of the day, it’s all about body hair positivity—whether you want to keep it, shave it, wax it, or laser it off, it’s up to you.