Body Hair: To Wax or Not To Wax?

Alright, so I have this dilemma—that’s probably a bad way to start a post about body hair, but stick with me, the problem is I’m wearing a tea length dress at my wedding and my legs will be visible. So, for the first time in my life I’ve been thinking of getting my legs waxed, which I find terrifying. Being forced to think about this dilemma has really gotten me thinking about body hair in general, and all the painful, expensive, decisions that go with it.

I’ve only ever had my eyebrows waxed and I can’t say that I loved it, with the lasting redness and localized breakouts it caused, I’ve mainly stuck to tweezing. I can only imagine that waxing large areas of skin is far more painful, and also pricey, but for my wedding it does seem somewhat appropriate. My main goal for my wedding day is to not have to think about too much, low-stress is the goal, so even something stupid like shaving my legs could become a disaster.

I know there are people out there who wax on a regular basis, some who wax everything all the time, and I have to say I find the subject both fascinating and unnerving. What it makes me wonder about specifically, is why our culture feels so strongly about ripping all hair out from the root in what can be a sometimes excruciating procedure.

I totally understand that we have hair in places we might not want it, and that eliminating it, or shaping it, can lend to the attractiveness of our appearance, but I think when all body hair (and other people’s body hair) becomes cause for ridicule, things have gone too far. I shave my armpits, maybe not as thoroughly in the winter, but I prefer it. I’m not sure if it’s due to a real personal preference, or a result of habit. From the time I’ve had hair under my arms I’ve been shaving it off. Sometimes I think about what it would be like to let it grow in all the way, but frankly, when it gets past an inch, I feel compelled to shave it down again. Women who don’t shave their pits usually get some absurdly generic label slapped on them, like “hippie”, or “feminist”, or “European”, but why should shaving your armpits (or your legs) be any different from filing your nails, it’s simply a personal choice.

For most women, the act of hair removal is as commonplace as shampooing, it’s expected to the point of annoyance. I completely understand women who have laser treatments and electrolysis to remove hair so that they don’t have to worry about it anymore. Because that’s my main issue with hair removal—having to worry about it at all. I have a beauty routine, I moisturize, I exfoliate, I deep condition my hair, and I don’t really mind any of those things, I actually enjoy them, but for me, excessive hair removal has always been where I draw the line. It’s not just the pain, I can handle the burning wax, the awful sneezing that results from eyebrow plucking, and the inflamed skin, it’s the upkeep that makes me crazy. It’s the fact that the hair grows back, sometimes so quickly it’s shocking that nature could be so cruel.

When a celebrity dares to neglect the removal of visible body hair, they’re not only ridiculed, but added to photo galleries to be remembered for their foolish transgression for all internet history. For this reason, it’s become quite clear that body hair is disgusting. To show body hair is to demonstrate a flagrant disregard for your own hygiene, despite the fact that it naturally, and persistently, sprouts from all of our bodies. While looking for images for this post I was shocked at how offended some were at a celebrity’s follicular “neglect”.

Not shaving your legs or pits isn’t like deciding not to brush your teeth or wash your hands, there isn’t anything un-hygienic about having body hair. In fact the removal of hair is far likelier to result in “un-hygienic” results—such as rashes and infections, so why all the hatred?  When I saw Mo’Nique at the golden globes instead of thinking it was disgusting I thought it was awesome that she could stand there looking gorgeous, happy, and confident, hairy legs and all. It wasn’t one of those “Celebrity Oops” moments where they catch a starlet in pimple cream, this is a woman who just doesn’t like to shave her legs, and says “so what?”, pretty admirable if you ask me.

Despite my admiration of Mo’Nique, I don’t think I’ll be going the hairy legged route on my wedding day, call me a conformist, but I’m not there yet, maybe one day though. For now, I need to decide whether a leg wax is in my future.

I’m curious to know how other women feel about hair removal. I’m not condemning or condoning either practice, but it seems important to understand why we do it, why we suffer the pain or choose to avoid it, and why either choice should be the business of anyone else but you. So share your opinions—oh, and if you have any advice or experience on the leg waxing dilemma, I’d love to hear that too!


Filed under acceptance

9 responses to “Body Hair: To Wax or Not To Wax?

  1. I’m going to be blogging about this soon myself, because of all the beauty rituals I experimented with at beauty u, leg waxing was the one that at first completely disappointed me and then, slowly, became my new favorite thing.

    BUT I really don’t think waxing is for everyone. If you’re serious about it, do a test wax a few weeks before your wedding, so you can make sure you don’t react terribly and decide whether you want to do it for the big day. Some people are okay with waxing certain parts of their bodies but not others (my legs get immediately red and bumpy, but are completely fine in an hour, whereas other parts of me blister and hurt for days…).

    My other advice, unless your leg hair is super sporadic and light, is to plan to get waxed say, the Monday of your wedding week. Then, if necessary, schedule a touch-up appointment on the Wednesday. Because for me, it never all comes out in one go. Each hair grows on its own weird cycle, so some are always longer than others and the shorter ones will resist the wax until they grow in a teensy bit more.

    And whatever you do, make sure to leave two or three days between waxing and wedding day so you can make sure any skin reactions fade.

    And WOW isn’t that a hell of a lot of work and thought to put into your leg hair?! So yeah, as for whether or not you should bother and WHY we bother… I’m still circling the drain on that.

    • This is fascinating! Thank you so much for all this info Virginia, it’s very helpful. I never knew that hairs grow on their own cycle, how weird—and strangely annoying. Why can’t those hairs get it together to grow at the same time? If only we could figure out why we all care so much about our body hair, it’s a chicken and egg mystery, who knows what came first; the desire for smooth legs or the pressure to have them…now I’ve made my brain hurt.

  2. mkz201

    I’ve found that getting a whole leg waxed hurts a lot less than getting a single little eyebrow waxed. If you are serious I would do as Virginia recommends and get a test wax sooner rather than later. The few times I did wax my legs they felt smoother and nicer than when I shave but in the end I didn’t really think it was worth the bother. Any cuts from shaving just blend in with the scrapes and bruises I already have from walking into things and otherwise spazzing out.

    I’ve heard that the fancier wax they use at some of the spas (as opposed to the sweet stuff they use at the nail salons) is easier on your skin. I’ve been thinking of testing it out at Bliss, but I’m sure it probably still hurts and might rather not be bothered.

  3. haren

    I didn’t realize that each hair grows on its own wacky cycle. That is why there are certain hairs that drive me crazy.

  4. Carmela

    I waxed a few times years ago, and found it to be time consuming and painful, and figured it’s easier to shave in the shower once a week or so and a whole lot cheaper. I say skip the pain and skin rash and just shave your legs. It’s easier in the long run. Bikini wax does look better but I rarely wear a bathing suit anymore and even if I do, it’s not a high-cut style for me these days so who cares?

    • Yeah, I’m starting to think this whole waxing thing is just WAY too much thought for me right now. I’ll probably put-off deciding for so long that I’ll just end up shaving anyway!

  5. lizzy

    well, i shaved my legs the day of claire’s wedding, and we ran out of hot water at the place all the bridesmaids were staying and i had goose bumps and i cut the sh*t out of my shin and it wouldn’t stop bleeding and i had to put multiple band aids on it at once and it probably looked goofy in the ceremony. my point being that i can see why you’re worried.
    one point is, whos going to get close enough to your bare legs to notice? that being said, i kind of want you to try it so i can hear what its like.

  6. Kathy

    Could you shave a couple of days before the wedding so it would be one less thing “to do” on your wedding day? I agree with Lizzy, James is the only one who will be THAT close to see any bit of hair that may grow back. Try not to stress it too much, you’ll look beautiful!!!!!

  7. Pingback: Reclaiming the Leg Wax? « Beauty Schooled

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