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Why Hair Removal is Not a Lifestyle Choice For Women

It’s not often I go off on a feminist rant. Whilst I’m undoubtedly Feminist, I’m not an activist: I believe in it, but at the moment I more believe in focusing what little energy I retain into caring for my babies and working on the blog. (Perhaps when my time is not at such a premium I’ll dedicate more of it to these important issues; they undeniably merit it and I want my daughters to grow up in a more equal world.)

But this morning in the shower I looked down and was overcome with frustrated rage. Today I want to talk to you about why hair removal is not a lifestyle choice for women.

Piercings; tattoos; hair colour, diet. These are all lifestyle choices which add up to make us who we are. Choices based upon our interpretation of the associated connotations, combined with our aesthetic preferences, which together create and reflect our identity. And how wonderful that we can take these variables, mix them up to harmonise with our values, and make our choices accordingly. It brings richness and interest to society, and demonstrates our freedom and tolerance.

Except – does it really? Because there’s one aspect of our ‘lifestyle choices’ – specifically women’s lifestyle choices – which has no such liberation attached. Neither is there much tolerance surrounding the issue.

Body hair. Like it or loathe it we all grow it, unless a medical issue dictates otherwise. But biologically, we’re all *supposed* to have it: it is Mother Nature’s intention that we’re made more or less equal in that sense. Yet way upwards of 50% of the female population ‘choose’ to remover their hair.

And I can’t believe that number do so because they enjoy it, or because they rejoice in spending their time and money in that way, or even because feeling the air rush over their naked skin makes the payoff worth it.

How do you feel about female body hair? Here's why removing it is not a lifestyle choice.

In fact, this is the reason I got so annoyed in the shower this morning. Unlike painting my nails (a rarity these days due to time constraints) removing my body hair is not something which brings me pleasure. That’s not because I don’t prefer to be hairless; I do really – but why? The fact is I’ve never actually given myself the space to decide what my own true preference is.

I do know I’d derive more joy from a splash of vibrant red on my nails than from being hairless, because one is a choice and the other a chore.

I’ll bet the majority of women mindlessly shaving, waxing and plucking are the same. Yet which will we prioritise?

For Women, Hair Removal is Not a Lifestyle Choice

So if we don’t do it because we genuinely want to, why do we? I’d wager it’s actually because removal of hair is not a lifestyle choice in the same way as the other examples I gave. It’s more of a lifestyle coercion, or even a lifestyle assumption. It’s patriarchal lifestyle bullshit.

And to embrace this sexist societal expectation is so ingrained that doing anything else is deemed flaunting a cultural norm. If women give in to the inevitable disgust that will radiate from our peers (and that’s not limited to one gender, by the way) should we dare stray from that path – well then it’s hardly a choice at all.

It’s not liberating, because I can attest to the fact that actually, it feels uncomfortable (socially) to simply be comfortable (literally).

Worse, the subject has been tethered to the issue of hygiene, making shunning the practice of hair removal that much more difficult for a woman. Only for a woman mind, because (naturally) the gender bias hypocrisy is undeniable: men sporting under arm hair are not considered unclean by default, whereas women… Exactly.

I’ll continue to remove my hair before showing my skin in public, because I’m as indoctrinated as the rest of the world… Just one more example of how the lives of women are skewed and controlled, too often without question, on a daily basis.

What do you think? Do you agree that hair removal is not a lifestyle choice for women?

Kate Tunstall

Monday 7th of January 2019

Great that you found your own way and that your husband supports you.


Monday 26th of February 2018

Yes I completely agree, and I feel the same! To be honest body hair itself doesn’t bother me at all, its how its perceived by others that is the problem for me. I would love to take a stand, I know my husband wouldn’t mind but I would feel uncomfortable. If I feel this way, as a fairly confident 31 year old, so I cant imagine how teenagers feel, who are just developing & are surrounded by a potent mix of hormones and critical peers.

Kate Tunstall

Monday 7th of January 2019

I feel exactly the same as you.