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Lying in the bath trying to make sure you don’t miss a bit or catch the razor on anything important, the stench of hair removal cream, the arguments (especially with partners) – let’s face it, the controversy about female body hair can be fierce. Apart from a brief craze for green armpit hair a few years ago (courtesy of Miley Cyrus), it seems smooth is back in the groove now. Or is it? There’s a definite case for enjoying a smooth body, but we’re not all doing it – or at least not all the time. OutNewsGlobal decided to get a few current opinions from readers…

“I shave my legs because it feels nice,” says my friend Fran. “Partly because I love the feel of my cats brushing up against them.” We have a good laugh but obviously it’s always been a pretty serious issue. You only have to take one glance at a porn site (by accident, naturally) to see that the business in bald bits on women is booming – and a large portion of the feminist population don’t like the paedophilic implications. For my part, I am very much either/or on this one. I like to swap and change between both, but honestly my preference is to keep it au naturel. This has disgusted some people (of all genders) over the years but then so has shaving.

Model Arvida Byström in an adidas campaign (2017).

“A friend of mine commented on a post of mine last night and threatened to come to my house and shave my legs,” says Gemma, who has just posted some photos of a successful leg operation on social media. “She can get away with it though – I was her babysitter when she was 13 and we became good mates, so I know it’s just a joke coming from her.” On a more serious note, she continues: “I’ve never felt shamed for body hair myself, but I’ve seen it done to others. I’m blonde; I don’t shave my armpits and nobody notices because they can’t see the hair anyway (not that I’d care if they could since I find armpit hair attractive on a woman). I rarely shave my legs – and if I do, I do it for *me* and not for anyone else.”

Men are getting in on the hair removal act too.

So what do the male-spectrum folk think? “My opinion is that while I do prefer a woman with body hair it is also none of my business what they choose to do and it would be unforgivably shallow of me to base my opinion of someone on their body hair,” says Scott. “I shave my own body hair,” adds James. “It’s always bemused me how it’s somehow just ‘a bit gay’ on men but when women do it it’s considered creepy. Nobody ever seems to think shaven men are trying to be little boys.” 

I certainly wouldn’t fancy trying to shave round a testicle myself, but I defend to the death any man’s right to take a deep breath and go for it. “Obviously I support anyone’s right to do what they want with their own body for whatever reason but to me body hair on women sends a signal of self-possession and anti-establishment sentiment that I find attractive,” says Imran. “I’ve got a bit of a fetish for armpit hair on women. Especially counter-culture types but I find pretty much any woman looks at least a little counter-culture with hairy pits.”

Emily is 23 and Jeanne is 70, yet their opinions on the topics are similar, showing that age is not perhaps as much of a factor as one might originally have assumed. “I can’t really shave due to a medical condition but sometimes I do,” Emily says. “Especially in the summer when I’m wearing  dresses.” Jeanne comments: “I just shave my legs and neaten up my bikini line when I’m expecting to wear a swimming costume. But it bothers me greatly to hear that some younger women feel that they have to remove their pubic hair ‘because it’s dirty’. Some younger men seem to believe this as well. I believe that you should please yourself in these matters and not be swayed by anyone else. I heard quite recently that a woman thought that she had to shave before having a smear test!”

Nye is genderqueer, but has identified as female for quite a few years. “I was certainly read as female for most of my life,” they explain. “I shaved my legs from the years of 15-17, then stopped when I got into feminism. I let my body hair grow free, let it get caught on trees (so I used to say). It was very rare that anyone would have anything to say about my body hair, and if they did I wouldn’t take anything they had to say to heart. A boyfriend once said that leg hair didn’t go well with fishnet tights; I disagreed.”

Is there power in armpit hair?

Jo even believes there is power in her armpit hair (and there’s some truth in this, given that science has proven than body hair collects more pheromones, therefore making us sexier!). “If I shave under my arms I lose all my vitality!” she giggles. Maybe she’s right that there is magic in there. There’s no question that some of us hairier women are often considered to be feminist witches. Bee adds some of my favourite final words. “If it wasn’t shaved, they be less likely to find the clit!” Well, sometimes that’s not exactly a lie… 

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Charlotte Dingle

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