The Joys of Dropping the Razor
THE SANTA CLARA
May 7, 2015
“Pubes rule,” said the junior. “I think it’s weird for a woman to shave her whole body. You were never like that except before puberty, so why is that sexually attractive? Who wants to have sex with a prepubescent human?”
De Blasio wears short dreads pulled back into two pigtails. Thin metal bars pierce an eyebrow and an ear, and a lacy gold crescent hangs between her nostrils. Her cut-off heavy metal t-shirts often show off her most unique feature: armpit hair.
“You see this idealized woman who doesn’t exist in marketing as many times as you see real people,” she said. “She’s all smooth, and how do you stay smooth when you’re regularly shaving sensitive areas? It’s just all so unrealistic, but that’s what we keep seeing as reality.”
De Blasio started shaving around the age of 10. Against the wishes of their parents, she and a friend bought razors at a CVS as a pre-teen’s display of being a “big kid.” Once high school rolled around, however, de Blasio found the task tedious and unnecessary.
In high school, de Blasio met her current boyfriend. As they became more comfortable with one another, the pressure to constantly impress fell away.
“He never really minded,” she said. “Then when I decided to go all out, not shave anything ever. He was very down with it. I mean, it’s soft, it’s natural, it’s just nice. Body hair is nice. I don’t care what anybody says.”
Not everyone is down with the flow. When de Blasio visited her seven-year-old cousin, she said the hair was “nasty,” and vowed to shave when she grew body hair.
“It was scary to me that she’d been socialized already to believe that something that grows out of your body shouldn’t be there,” she said. “I just like to let it grow. It’s there. I don’t want to remove it.”
Still, de Blasio isn’t unrealistic. Her mother used to rock dreads, dashikis and a nose ring in the 70s and 80s, but she struggled to find work. When she changed her appearance, more opportunities presented themselves — an unfortunate lesson she passed onto her daughter.
“You just have to realize it affects how people perceive you,” de Blasio said. “Of course, I don’t like that, but it’s the truth. People will see you as dirty or overly rebellious, or some hairy feminist.”
In the end, it comes down to whose expectations of beauty a person wants to follow.
“All those standards were definitely invented by men, because no woman would ever decide that was what we had to do,” she said. “It’s the same with heels. Women did not invent heels. Men have control over what women’s bodies are supposed to be.”
To her, the dangerous part comes when other women turn on one another, internalizing the expectations that others have put on them.
“Women are trained to see other women as our competitors,” de Blasio said. “Like, if you see another woman in your class and she has hairy legs, you might judge her, despite the fact that you know it’s a pain in the ass to shave your legs.”
After all, men just have to take a shower, put on a clean button-down and they’re set for the night. They can shave if they want, but a scruffy face isn’t quite taboo.
“It has a lot to do with the idea that women aren’t right the way they are naturally,” she said. “So when you see a woman with unshaved armpits, of course that’s gonna strike you as different and scary. But I don’t care. It’s not just the softness and the freedom, I’ve saved hundreds of hours of my life.
John Flynn is a junior and editor of the Scene section.