Things Got a Little Hairy…Under the Arms

“So…when are you going to shave?”

I’ve heard these words so many times in the last few months. My guy, Tony, first noticed my lack of shaving during a steamy moment of ‘let’s kiss before the baby wakes up’ late one night. He’s very supportive of me and my extreme measures to understand the world, and my place in it, but this is one he just couldn’t get behind. 

Part of it might be my fault because I didn’t tell him what I intended to do or why. They (the proverbial They) always tell you not to share your goals before you do them. Anyone who knows me knows that it’s nearly impossible for me to keep my goals to myself. Especially when I believe they will change my life. 

The fact that I didn’t share this one with anyone proves the experiment.

It wasn’t on purpose, so don’t go thinking I’m a martyr or a saint (Well, you can if you want). Late one night, I felt a soft breeze across my leg, as we’ve been prone to keeping our bedroom door open lately, and then I felt something skitter across. Shooting up, I slapped one, two, three times at my shin until I realized there was no spider, or ant, or mosquito. It was just hair. Long, downy, rust-red leg hair. I tried to remember the last time I shaved but I couldn’t. 

Rolling off the bed, I moved slowly to the bathroom to shave. I came to a stop. I pivoted. and I went back to the bed. Crawled between the covers. Pulled my legs up tight to my chest, total fetal position. And I cried. 

I didn’t want to shave. I also didn’t want to be ugly. I wanted agency, control over my body, and an ability to be lazy if I wanted to. I also didn’t want to go to the gym and be self-conscious over every pull-up or every row or every pair of shorts. After twenty minutes of pity party and boohoo and why doesn’t anyone find me beautiful, I sat up. I washed my face and I made a decision that would change everything. 

“Ummm…no sexy times until you shave that nonsense.”

After my introduction to TikTok, a social media app I told myself I wouldn’t get (because I knew I would get addicted, which…I am), I started something I called the Regain Your Beauty Challenge. Along with my intense desire to have control over my body, and the way it looks without outside societal influence, this was the perfect time for me to notice how disgusted I was with my appearance when not using filters. I had used the “Pretty Filter” on Snapchat for so long, I think I’d forgotten how beautiful my eyes are, how my skin glows when kissed by the sun, how my cheeks are so big they make everyone else smile. 

I’d forgotten what I looked like. What JADE looks like. So for seven days straight, I created a video where I looked at myself, took in my features, and admired myself without filters or changes in lighting. I got to know myself again. It was only the beginning of my rediscovery. 

“So…are you going to shave your underarms?” 

It didn’t end with legs. I didn’t shave anything. Everything went to the dogs. My legs, my vagina, my underarms, I even got a chin hair or two (don’t tell anyone). I didn’t pluck anything. I didn’t even search for them like I usually do. 

I told myself that I needed to learn how to stop feeling shame for what my body does. I needed to stop internalizing everything that everyone says is wrong with me. Yes, this was an extreme take but I needed to do it. I didn’t explain to Tony, and maybe I should’ve, but I felt like it was my body and I wasn’t going to let him pressure me either. My decision to shave would be mine. 

So, I went to the gym with my very supportive sports bra, a sleeveless workout top, a pair of longer biker shorts, and my Brooks runners. I did everything that I knew would show off my hairy bits, and then I cried in the car. I had kept my headphones on, even as I sprinted to the car on wobbly legs. Their eyes had touched me like spider legs. Every time I did a squat or lunge, I had looked around to see if anyone was looking at me. 

“Hey, I got you some nice razors.”

After the first embarrassing month, checking to see if others were staring was no longer a problem. When February rolled around, I stopped wearing my shirts with sleeves. I went to the grocery with a tank top on and reached for things on top shelves. I wore this oversized shirt, with hidden shorts beneath, to a coffee shop around the corner from my house (socially distanced sipping, of course). When my guy asked if I was going to shave with the razors, I said “Eventually” and happily moved along my way. 

There was a moment of reckoning, the day before I shaved. Which was yesterday. I had on this very cute dress and headed over to a friend’s house for a mom break away from the little baby (Naomi) and the big baby (Tony). We sat down to watch Raya and the Last Dragon (a fantastic movie, I might add), and there it was. A hairy leg sticking out from beneath the edge of the blanket. My friend looked down at it and so did I. There was a brief moment of silence before I said “I’m so freaking hairy, yo”. We laughed until our bellies hurt and our eyes filled with tears. We had to stop the movie so we wouldn’t miss anything. There might’ve been wine involved. 

I didn’t feel shame. I didn’t feel embarrassed. I felt free. 

And now, after a nice spa day complete with shaving my entire body, my new skin care routine, and burning incense, I’m revitalized. I feel more confident than I ever have in my entire life. I’m almost thirty, I have 30lbs to go before I’m at the weight I want to be (post-baby), I daydream of a time when I can afford the clothes that would fit an aesthetic I just created: Soft Minimalism, and my hair is a crazy frizzy halo of black magic…

And I freaking love it. Gaining self-esteem and confidence is a journey. It’s a marathon and I’m training for a marathon (no, I’m serious…I’m running again) so I know I can do it.

I’m beautiful and I don’t care if other people disagree. I know that I’m just as beautiful and light as my soul. It just took me getting hairy to truly realize it.

A recent tweet I wrote explains it all:
“The more I love myself the more beautiful I grow – every day.”

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