Home > Introduction > Hair, There, and Everywhere

Hair, There, and Everywhere

January 29, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Those of you who follow me on Twitter (and if you don’t, please feel free to) might have seen already that I signed up to run a half marathon in May.  Originally, I was filled with panic, but I think I’ll be all right.  Totally reasonable goal, to run 13.1 miles.  Totally reasonable.  Okay, a little panic still remains.  But nothing I can’t handle.  I’m excited for the challenge ahead.

Let’s talk about gyms. I guess I technically belong to two gyms.  One is the expensive one that I joined and pay a monthly fee for.  The second is the one that opened at the bottom of my building two months after I joined the first gym, and cost $50 for a one-time, lifetime access fee.  God dammit.  I’m actually glad to belong to the first gym – it has free weights and cables that I enjoy using more than the machines at the tiny gym in the office, but if I hadn’t been spoiled, I probably wouldn’t care.

Now that I’ve decided to run this half marathon, I really have to commit to my running workouts.  I’m adding a long run day on the weekends, but I hope to do it outside, and one run a week just won’t cut it.  What this means is that I’m about to spend a lot more time working out in the gym downstairs, and what THAT means is that I’m going to spend a lot more time working out in front of my co-workers (who also use the office gym).  I don’t mind having them see me sweaty or red-faced, but if they see me in short sleeves and shorts, they’re going to see something that is quite unusual on a woman.  That is to say, my hairy legs.  I know anyone would be too tactful to mention it, but it still weirds me out that they will be able to see something that is such a personal choice.

When I grew out the hair on my legs, I found it really difficult.  It took two attempts before I could finally let the process complete. I had to fight through a lot of feelings of disgust, i.e. that “women do not have hairy legs”.   I have fine, blond hair on my legs, so it really does not make that much of a visual impact, but – now I love the way it makes me look and feel.

I also worry about them seeing my new hair project.  I’ve been trying to grow out the hair in my armpits.  I’m finding that it’s just as difficult to grow the hair in my armpits.  In fact, I am finding it more difficult.  It gives me feelings of shame, and I find myself hiding it from my girlfriend at times.  I’m not sure that I necessarily think pit hair is masculine.  I don’t really enjoy the look on guys either.  But because of the way that I eventually loved my leg hair, I’m pushing through the discomfort to see what the end result is.  The only thing I do NOT want, is for my co-workers to see me before I’m completely comfortable with the choices I am making for my body.

Categories: Introduction
  1. January 29, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    I dunno, maybe it’s where I’m from or how I grew up, but I have very little angst attached to body hair. I didn’t start shaving until I was 15 or 16 at the gentle request of the boy I was seeing (he shaved his legs, armpits, chest). The pit hair is back. I like how it looks, the ladyfriend likes it, and detractors are pretty easy to quiet down with “I’m a lesbian. It’s part of the dress code.” or whatever. They laugh, I laugh, they get over it, I get on with it.

    • January 29, 2010 at 3:12 pm

      That is 100% different from my experience. I started shaving my legs when I was about 11 because the girls in gym class noticed that I hadn’t started yet and began teasing me. I couldn’t handle it, so I started. Going home some of the biggest clashes I have with my family over my appearance are about my leg hair. Women who didn’t shave their armpits were always spoken about disparagingly. Hair removal for women is a Big Fuckin’ Deal in my household.

      Thanks for the line about the dress code. Haha. If anyone mentions it, I will say that. Humor helps me a lot. :-)

  2. bee
    January 29, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    I trim my leg hair in the summer, but don’t shave it all the way off, and I shave my arm pits year round. I just prefer them that way– i don’t like deodorant clumps in my armpit hair. I don’t shave it often– maybe once every 3-4 weeks.

    I don’t consider my body hair much when it comes to my butchness.

    • February 1, 2010 at 6:57 pm

      I think every 3-4 weeks might be the right key for me. It’s much darker and thicker than my leg hair, so going any less frequently than that might result in my being, well, somewhat smelly. Which is great, but only if I’m alone on an island, and no one cares.

  3. January 30, 2010 at 2:38 am

    I stopped shaving leg and arm pit hair last year, both grew back fairly dark and thick. I’m happy enough with my leg hair although I don’t (ever) wear shorts so what other people think isn’t an issue. I found thick arm pit hair more of a problem but then my wife got me a beard trimmer which I use to keep it thinned out. That works really well for me and I’m so relieved to be rid of the shaving thing!

    • February 1, 2010 at 6:58 pm

      The beard trimmer is also a great idea – one of the biggest things about not shaving is the decreased water bills. I spend way less time in the shower, and frankly, can barely remember ever having to remind myself to shave.

  4. January 30, 2010 at 9:17 am

    Well, I’m obviously not butch, but I still wanted to share in your struggles about growing out the armpit hair. I did the leg hair when I was much younger, it was kinda fun. People are so disdainful of it! Bwahahaha! But when I tried to grow out the armpit hair, I just couldn’t do it– not because of the haters (fuck em!), but for my own comfort. Like bee says, the deodorant clumps! And the scratchy feeling under my arms! I just couldn’t do it. But I think the consideration of body hair is important for all women because, regardless of gender, we’re *supposed* to feel ashamed of it.

    • February 1, 2010 at 6:59 pm

      Haha, obviously – kind of goes back to what we were saying about the internet and identity, doesn’t it?

      But yes, that’s part of the reason I’ve fought so hard to keep growing out my arm pit hair. Just because it bothers me at first doesn’t mean it will keep bothering me!

  5. January 30, 2010 at 11:45 am

    My mom said something priceless to me when I was about 17: “You shaved your head and you stopped shaving everything else!” :)

    I hope you get to a place where you’re comfortable & confident in your choices. I second yondergen about the uniform line; in my experience most folks aren’t the least surprised to see hairy legs etc. on a dyke. Bottom line, though — it isn’t their business.

    • January 30, 2010 at 9:48 pm

      Too true–it’s not their business, but they ask anyway, so you might as well put ’em in their place.

    • February 1, 2010 at 7:00 pm

      Haha! When I was 17, I realized how silly it was that men and women are – in a way – “supposed” to have the same amount of hair on their body. All that differs is where it’s supposed to be located.

  6. e
    February 1, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    Hi! First time commenting… couldn’t help myself on the subject matter.

    I’m old enough (50) that when I was young it was just the hippie thing to go all hairy. I shaved my legs once every six months or so, or when I felt like it. I used to trim my armpit hair with scissors. It’s true that I don’t have very much hair, but since it’s dark it’s visible.

    Once, when my armpit hair was as long and thick as it ever gets I bleached it with some facial cream bleach. I thought it was hilarious! I was working on a construction site at the time and wore a tank top to work so that I could show all the guys. They already thought I was a freak, that just confirmed it.

    My feeling now is, f*ck it. I like me, whether I shave or not. And it certainly doesn’t bother my gf… she doesn’t shave very often either.

    So, I guess what I’m trying to say is: do whatever makes you comfortable and don’t take any crap from anyone. I also agree with yondergen — ‘part of the dress code’ is a great response.

    • February 1, 2010 at 7:04 pm

      I hope you stick around!

      When I started shaving my legs, my mom related to me that she used to bleach her legs with cream bleach. She suggested that I do the same when my hair started growing in dark and thick, but it never did. But I love the idea of wandering around with bleached armpit hair. Super punk!!

      I think the “fuck it” and “don’t take crap” attitudes are ones I definitely need to cultivate. I’m very self-conscious. As one might be able to tell, seeing as how I have a whole blog, devoted to me, me, me. Not that that’s a bad thing. :-)

      • e
        February 3, 2010 at 4:33 pm

        I was surprised and a little sad that the bleached arm pit hair grew out so fast… and it was too much trouble to keep doing it.

  7. DK
    February 3, 2010 at 7:14 am

    Another first commenter!

    Hair is a funny subject. I’m recently out as butch, and still working out my personal body-comfort issues, body-hair being one of the big ones. It was such a relief to run into a subculture where it’s completely okay not to shave wherever you like (and regarded as sexy, even), without the attached message of being a bra-burning, man-hating, femenist dyke.

    Not that all of those things aren’t great (disregarding the man-hating), but they just weren’t me.

    I let my leg hair grow now, quite happily, and enjoy the way it looks masculine–my own version of masculine, reclaimed. Same for my armpit hair. I even have something of a happy-trail running down from my navel that I’m learning to love. In fact, the only thing I really shave now is my face — and boy, wasn’t that a hell of an issue. It wasn’t until I read Sugarbutch’s post on the subject that I stopped feeling like a freak and embraced that, too. Now it’s part of my morning ritual, and it’s what I look forward to the most in my start-up ritual.

    Jeez, long first comment. Sorry about that.

    • February 4, 2010 at 10:09 pm

      I also have a happy trail! My mom was trying to convince me to get it removed, and – while I’ve considered hair removal on many parts of my body, and even had some done (arm pits and face) – I’ve loved my happy trail since the day I noticed it. It didn’t even occur to me that it was “masculine” until about 6 months ago.

      Also, I love being a bra-burning feminist dyke. I actually assume for the most part that that is how I am read at work.

      Before reading Sinclair’s post, to which you pointed, I also had not considered shaving. A friend of mine stopped shaving his legs when he was working out his feelings about gender; to be honest, it grossed me out at the time. I rather quickly changed my mind when seeing how much I liked it on myself.

  8. G
    February 3, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    The more I read from other butches, the more I feel like I’m in the minority – I shave, and I shave a lot. But I attribute this more to my OCD tendencies than a need to conform to social norms – I just don’t like a lot of hair on me, period. And hey, I’m totally okay with that.

    To me, the key lies in your last sentence about you being completely comfortable. I think that will happen in your own time, but I know coming to terms with my own personal development as a butch made all the difference for me.

  9. Britt
    February 4, 2010 at 1:37 am

  10. treesabird
    February 28, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    I just wanted to share, that from what I’ve heard from the vague community of “furry chicks” on the ‘net, as well some women’s blags, letting your armpit hair grow out actually makes you smell less… there’s bacteria or something that naturally grow in hair that eat up the bacteria that create odor. But I assume you’d have to let it out for a while. Also, I hear roll-on deodorant won’t clump.

    Interestingly, I see body hair as a more gender-neutral-thing, it really depends on how it’s presented. I’d like to grow out all my body hair soon, and I’m a femme-pansexual seeing a male-id’d person, who would be none too happy about this decision…So I wonder, where does “f*ck em all” attitude begin and end? And for the first time I’m thinking about body-hair and femme-ness, too. thanks for the brainfood :)

    • March 15, 2010 at 9:17 am

      So far, that has been the opposite of my experience. I definitely have gotten smellier. But the flip side of that is – although this is gross – I find the increased production of b.o. makes me feel more masculine? Ugh, that is gross.

      Hair removal does seem to be considered “feminine”, doesn’t it? My girlfriend is more diligent about it than I am (ie. I don’t do anything at all…), and I’ve always associated it with her femininity. But I’ve always told myself that I wouldn’t care one way or another what she did with her hair. I don’t think I would mind if she grew her leg hair out, but I definitely feel “comforted” by the fact that I know she never would. Hm, more brainfood.

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