Earlier today I was talking with one of my co-workers about this phenomenon known as “No Shave November” or even “Movember”, which are kind of not really the same thing. Now, if you’re unfamiliar with the concept, no-shave November was founded as a way to raise awareness and funds for cancer. The philosophy is that by embracing our hair, which cancer patients usually lose due to chemotherapy and radiation treatments, we both raise awareness for the cause, and ideally donate whatever money we don’t spend on grooming products to help support cancer research and treatment. Movember, more specifically, raises awareness of men’s health issues including prostate cancer. Same concept, same month, but No Shave November includes women! Or does it?
See, my male co-worker was surprised to find that I intended to participate in No-Shave November, and more specifically, that I had in the past. He inquired as to whether women were even “allowed” to do that. Now, I’m a relatively quiet feminist. I’m one of those “lower case” feminists, you know? The one that thinks that feminism, like all rational, human-rights related issues, should be a conversation, not a single-sided argument. But when he asked me, I almost scoffed, and not intentionally! Why would it be so absurd for a woman to stop shaving for a month, if it’s so socially acceptable for men to be unshaven? To further the gap between what society considers a normal “gender conforming” behavioral pattern to look like, there are men who think that women should be (and generally are) sleek, slender, smoothly shaven human beings. And there are women who actually are sleek, slender, smoothly shaven. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! I get it. Hair bothers some people. And for the most part, people are generally “OK” with leg hair. But anything else? Absurd.
My thoughts are this. Beards are in style. Armpit hair on women, for whatever reason, is not. But in New York City? Is it truly this absurd to see a woman with armpit hair?
I have three standard questions about No-Shave November that I’d like to address. They have all been asked of me, and are repeatedly asked of me every November for the past three years.
1. “Can girls even do that?”
Well, yes, we can and do refrain from shaving. Don’t we get to raise awareness about cancer too?
2. What if your significant other doesn’t like you with hair?”
I have two thoughts on this. First, I’m not dating my significant other because they like my smoothly shaven legs. I like to think that they’re fond of my personality, or that they even like the way I look sometimes. Maybe I’m fun to be around, you know. ‘Cause I’m a person and all that. And second, if the existence of body hair on my body is really that difficult for my significant other to handle, I shave. Because, a relationship is more important to me than a silly month of hairiness.
3. “But why?”
And this is why I’m writing this post. Why? Simply because you’re still asking me this question. If I were a man, who respectfully decided to refrain from shaving for the month of November, the conversation would be entirely different. Let’s take the idea of Movember for example. Men not shaving to raise awareness for men’s health issues. Great. Sometimes men grow mustaches because they look good, too. My opinion? Women not shaving their armpits to make a statement is going to raise a lot more awareness than a group of men growing facial hair. That’s relatively commonplace. Especially if you live in Bushwick.
Here’s to the remainder of the month. To all you hairy creatures, cheers.