It's not too late to create a ritual of self-devotion in 2021

Body Gardens: The Beauty of Accepting & Embracing Your Body Hair (if you want to)

photography by Devon Dadoly of Manifold Studios for Cycles Journal

 

Whether you have fields on your legs,
a meadow under your arms,
a bush between your legs,
or brush above your lip,
your natural growth is beautiful.

And whether you choose to mow your lawns, or trim select areas of your gardens, or let it all grow wild and free for the world to see, it’s all valid and all lovely.

 

It is common in our modern day where we are constantly exposed to shaving advertisements and waxed models to think that unhairy is how we must exist. But hairs grow naturally all over you, and whether they are light or dark, plentiful or whispy, it’s okay to leave them alone. If you hate how they look, then by all means groom away! But if there is a part of you that despises shaving, actually kinda likes the feeling and look of any part of your body when the hair grows in, and knows that you are amazing and beautiful and desirable with or without hair… then I challenge you to try out letting it be. It may take some time to get over the stigma that surrounds it all, but I promise you that your worth or beauty is not determined by the amount of hair on your body.

It is time for ALL of our hair to be seen as natural and beautiful. Shaving your legs should be as much of a personal preference as choosing a long or short haircut on your head. If no one looks twice at masculine-presenting people no matter how much hair they have, then why should they judge a femme or non-binary person for it?

 

We are often taught that “unshaven = unlovable”…
but this is not true!

 

And I hope that what I write here can give you the courage to unlearn this bias and grow into whatever your uninfluenced preference truly is! And if your preference is still clean-shaven, that is totally okay, too!

I’m not bashing shaving at all, only bringing awareness to the lack of choice that surrounds it for femmes.

 

I will say that there are a few cons to shaving that are part of why I do it a lot less nowadays. First of all, the waste and cost of razors or waxing. Second, the time spent doing it (I know some people may like spending time doing intensive grooming like this, which is totally fine, but I am not that person! I like face masks and baths but shaving is not fun in my personal books). Third, razor burn and ingrown hairs are not fun and can seriously harm your skin to an extent. Fourth, your hair actually protects your pores and toxins from being absorbed in sensitive places, ESPECIALLY in your armpits where vital lymph nodes and glands live.

 

Femme-presenting people did not always shave - actually it’s a relatively new phenomenon. Think about people from before the 20th century or those who exist in tribal cultures - do you think they spend their time shaving their legs and pubic hair? Probably not. Having and keeping body hair is totally natural and always has been. How can a part of us that grows on its own, persistently so, be wrong and gross? Especially when masculine-presenting people are praised for having more of it and shamed when they decide to shave certain parts such as their legs? 

© illustration by Rachael Amber for Cycles Journal - share for non-promotional purposes with credit attached. Inquire at cyclesjournal@gmail.com for licensing permissions.

© illustration by Rachael Amber for Cycles Journal - share for non-promotional purposes with credit attached. Inquire at cyclesjournal@gmail.com for licensing permissions.

Shaving became a thing when it started being advertised in the early 1900s. It’s all marketing and propaganda to make us feel like we need to do more to be valid, beautiful and desirable. It’s very common now for young femmes to be taught to shave as soon as leg hair shows dark enough, or else they’ll be made fun of in school. It’s not really much of a choice when you’ll be rejected if you don’t do it. From that point on, beauty in our minds is equivalent to smooth and hairless. Why? Because there are imposed opinions and preferences of beauty in our world.

 

It’s a habit I’ve been unlearning and working on for some time now, a few years counting. I’m not going to lie, I struggled with a long period of self-consciousness, rejection (some self imposed, some actually from people very close to me in my life) and worry around it all. But I learned that my worth exists beyond this small preference, and those who truly love me will look past it even if it’s not their preference. It really was a practice in rebuilding self-confidence beyond the initial hyper-awareness that others would care. Turns out, most of them don’t care. I hope you have people in your life who accept whatever choices you make, or will at least hear out your reasoning! But finally, I can say I’m at a place where I no longer think about or care if people are staring at my legs or not. And even if someone is looking at my legs weirdly, I just smile when they look up, welcoming questions or comments. But most people won’t ever actually say anything!

I cannot explain the freedom and natural beauty I feel radiating from within myself now that I have accepted hair on parts of myself I used to always want to allow, but felt like I couldn’t.

 

I feel personally feel more connected to my true nature, the fluidity of life, and more raw and confident than ever.

 

I still tweeze my eyebrows a bit, trim my bikini line, and from time to time I trim or start with a clean pubic shave just because. I can choose to want hair for a few weeks but then not want it another week. Our pubic hair, leg hair, armpit hair, facial hair and hair anywhere else should be as optional as we want it to be, and as accepted as choosing to change your hairdo on your head.

 

I yearn the for the day where it’s just as okay to want to keep your body hair as it is to not want to keep it. Hell yeah if you love your smooth legs and bare pits and feel your best that way; there is beauty in any and every body modification and grooming desire. But also hell yes if you love your hairy legs, embrace the hair on your chin or upper lip, or think your hairy pits are actually sexy!

 

We can be ‘well-groomed’ and have hair. We can also be 100% natural and choose not to trim neat lines. And we will always, always be beautiful with or without body hair!

You are lovely and desirable and valid and amazing no matter what amount of body hair you have naturally, and what amount you choose to keep, remove or maintain. This is a reminder to myself and everyone out there; it only matters what you prefer and how you feel about it. Everyone else can learn to accept it, because it’s not their body. 

 

With love,

Rachael Amber

Disclaimer: If anyone EVER puts you down for it, take a step back, know that this attack is about their person insecurity and not yours. Do not let them diminish your self-worth. Find a friend who accepts your choice and talk to them about it, cry it out, and keep on moving forward and loving you.

© illustration by Rachael Amber for Cycles Journal - share for non-promotional purposes with credit attached. Inquire at cyclesjournal@gmail.com for licensing permissions.

© illustration by Rachael Amber for Cycles Journal - share for non-promotional purposes with credit attached. Inquire at cyclesjournal@gmail.com for licensing permissions.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published