A short comment on hair (down there and everywhere)

Sophie Schonbach - Senegal


March 14, 2018

So, about shaving this time, eh? And no I don’t want to discuss if I should let my moustache grow out or shave its or if somebody else should or shouldn’t do that, here it’s only gonna be about how I feel. Regarding shaving of course, no worries.

 

To start this off, let me tell you that I am generally quite lazy, especially when it comes to things that I am not convinced by, such as hair removal of various body parts based on a socially wide spread norm, applied differently based on gender. The first time it stuck out to me was when I shaved my legs for the first time and went back to track and field practise. “Ohhh you finally shaved? Nice!”, I heard. It hit me with surprise as the initial act was no big deal for me, so small that I don’t even remember the sudden motivation for it. I was irritated. I thought nobody was paying attention to me at all, but for sure as hell not to the surface of my lower legs. I remember a wave of shame flooding me as if I should have done something like that way earlier and how I could have not been aware of that. But since that feeling is not a nice feeling I put it aside rather quick. And then life proceeded, wait: teenage life proceeded and so with more or less efforts of shaving I made it until the age of 18. I thought about just not shaving anymore more than once as I didn’t want to invest the time and money in something that is neither natural nor medically proven to be healthier. But as I said, teenage life happened and telling yourself that something is terribly unnecessary if not arguably harmful as you are part of reinforcing the system and acting upon it are two different pair of shoes. I was never resistant enough to withstand the fear of other’s glances’ or the potential awkwardness when things were getting a bit more intimate (and no, I don’t want to hear any comment by any enlightened individual).

 

When I finally came to Senegal I told myself: “You know what? Fuck this. Just don’t do it. As easy as that.” I thought to myself that out of all no-one knows me, so if I am the hairy one from the start, people who judge, not that I was understanding what everyone was saying anyways, just don’t have to be my friends. Also: bucket shower! Trust me you do not want to be running across the sand field to refill your water while the whip cream is playing hide-and-seek down your everything. My body is also new to a lot of people that I met here (I mean in that sense to everyone but you know what I mean). I don’t know how many times I had to explain that I did not have a skin disease but that moles and freckles are just more visible on my skin and that they would have them too but just couldn’t find them as much. Senegalese people generally have very little body hair and so seeing my body hair in the daily life wouldn’t even been drawn to their attention as there is no “this-is-how-it’s-supposed-to-look”. Which obviously doesn’t mean that folks  aren’t aware of the Western beauty standards, as my aunty showed me. She sat me down at lunch once, in front of everybody and she looked at me and said:” Dior, you know that you can shave here too, right?”. I nodded.

 

The reason why I am telling you all this is cause it took me a total of 10min in another country and I noticed myself hiding the exposed 3cm of hairy leg skin. And let me tell you, I hate this feeling. I can’t even describe how comforting it was to be able to walk around like a puddle and not feel worried or ashamed. And not “not wanting to feel ashamed and embracing the hair or whatever”, but just not feeling anything at all cause it didn’t matter and so I wouldn’t even waste 2 seconds thinking about it. I don’t want to start thinking about it again, but I don’t know how much courage I have.

 

There is this small girl in me screaming that everybody should stop shaving as it is harmful and unfair and sad. But I also know that’s not realistic. So I just want you to know that there is obviously the bases of personal preference (influenced by the norm or not, regardless), but I still can’t but encourage everyone to just try it out. Maybe you find yourself in circumstances that allow you to comfortably try that out for a couple of months. It’s not that bad. It’s just the fear of “social exclusion” (or just judgement for better sake, spoken or silent), but if you step outside you will soon realise that in the end of the day people are too egoistic to actually care. I am gonna keep trying, you should too.

Sophie Schonbach