‘Rack off, hairy legs’: Body standards from down under

By Isabella Battersby

Artwork by Beatriz Moura

My friends are able to use that term literally with me. Halfway through 2016 I had something like an epiphany; I realised that I don’t have to shave if I don’t want to. It never really occurred to me that there was an option, that I didn’t have to shave my legs, armpits or bikini line every few days if I didn’t want to. How many of you (chicks and dudes included) just get in the shower and shave without thinking about what you’re doing and why? It is just an unspoken rule that females should be smooth and hairless, like those ugly hairless cats which look like they are inside out.

I remember begging my mum to let me shave my legs because I felt embarrassed at my hairiness. All the other girls were smooth and shiny at that age. I think I was 13 when I began the removing of all un-womanly hair. I shaved my legs and armpits, had bikini waxes, which soon turned into Brazilians (all hair down there gone, including your bum hair (fucking hell that hurts)) and let us not forget eyebrow and lip waxing as well. A monthly visit to the beautician for all my waxing would cost nearly $80. I eventually went and had IPL laser hair removal done on my bikini line, which cost $320 for ten treatments. This was all because of the unspoken rule of it not being socially acceptable for women to be hairy. Well, fuck that.

Six years later and I have never been so hairy and (relatively) happy. First, I just let my pits grow out, then my legs. After years of trying to rid myself of all hair, I probably damaged some areas of my body, which you can see mostly on my legs where there are patches of no hair. It does look a bit strange but I don’t really mind. Recently I have allowed my pubes to grow out of control as well. I don’t get eyebrow waxes, haven’t for probably a year and a half. I still pluck my moustache because it doesn’t sit nicely under my makeup. So yeah, I am basically a gorilla by society’s terms. The first time mum saw my legs/pits she laughed, not at my appearance, just at me not giving a fuck anymore after years of trying to kill every hair on my body. My dad was beyond shocked, “I’ve never seen you with hairy legs before!” My sixteen-year-old brother couldn’t care less, but that wasn’t a surprise, I’ve been pulling shit like this forever. I still don’t think he has recovered from when I threw a tampon at him.

Life isn’t that different with hair – I am only really aware of it when people point it out. Or when I am wearing a singlet at work, stretch and a customer will just stare at my pits. Living in the Newtown area of Sydney and being this hairy is pretty easy, as Newtown is a place for all types of people, hairy and smooth. It is pretty depressing that in 2017, women are still expected to look a certain way and the fact that I am hairy is actually shocking. Funnily enough, I have found it to be more shocking for chicks; many of my friends still laugh at my legs. Not in a nasty way, just in a “oh you are so funny” kind of way. I am not trying to say all women should grow their hair out, not at all. I just wanted to point out how expensive it can really be and that you don’t have to do it just ‘because’. Women and men should be able to be hairy/hairless no matter what gender stereotype they fit under. Chicks, if you are sick of that razor, throw it out and grow a mo. I have seriously never before felt so comfortable in my own hairy skin.

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