Why Letting Myself Grow Changed Everything

Written by Guest Author Alex Andrews

I’ve walked a fine line between mild displeasure for my body’s imperfections and waging outright war against it. I searched high and low for self-love’s silver bullet, hoping there was some cure-all for the anxiety I faced over my body’s faults and flaws.

As part of my search, I tried almost everything. I cleansed my social media of anyone who used the words ‘clean eating’ or who promoted some kind of detox tea. I read body positive blogs and I restricted my tabloid reading to waiting rooms only. I waited patiently, hoping one morning I would wake up miraculously full of self-love bestowed upon me like a Beyoncé-style halo. Unsurprisingly, the halo never arrived.

“The fact that self-love is hard is no coincidence.”

If we all accepted ourselves – just as we are – the 100 billion dollar beauty industry would take a big hit. No more lip-fillers, detox teas or waist trainers. That’s why it’s hard for an individual to stand strong and love themselves in spite of everything they see, hear and read.

The Hairy Truth

But it was only when I heard the story behind why women shave that I began to understand just how powerful the combination of advertising and self-doubt could be. In 1915 a few ‘hair removal heavy weights’ wanted a way to reach the 50% of the market they were missing out on. Their tactic was to launch a campaign in a popular women’s magazine describing body hair on a woman as ‘embarrassing’ and ‘objectionable’.

Shaving advertisements of the 30s
Unembarrassed: women in the 1930s were shamed by advertisements into believing their hair was ‘an embarrassment’

“Within just 10 years almost all women in the West were shaving their legs and underarms.”

Today, girls as young as ten remove their hair- I’d never even thought about why I shaved, waxed or (attempted to) laser all my hair off. Hair removal was so ingrained I hadn’t stopped to consider it. I wondered what else I had been doing and thinking in response to someone else’s attempt to boost profits. So I started to let myself grow.

purple get hairy Feb

Initially, it was awkward and embarrassing. I covered up and occasionally passed it off as an accident that I’d ‘forgotten’ to shave. One afternoon I even shaved it all off because I knew intimacy was imminent and I just couldn’t be bothered explaining why I had hair under my arms – all the while knowing he would have hairy pits too.

“Everyone around me challenged my choice and I began to realise how all of us are guilty of perpetuating ridiculous and often harmful beauty standards.”

It’s Just Hair!

After struggling with self-love for so long, letting my body grow was liberating. And it’s just hair! I couldn’t believe it. Something so simple might actually be the silver bullet for helping me conquer years of self-doubt.

“Allowing my hair to grow against expectations and being able to watch that rebellion was radical and fulfilling.”

Body hair is just hair but what you choose to do with it is powerful. It might not be a silver bullet for everyone but it should be a choice we can make without the threat of judgment or an impending sense of shame and guilt. That’s why I started Get Hairy February – to encourage others to let themselves grow by experiencing what it feels like when you no longer expect your body to conform. For the month of February, women will grow together as we stand up against a 100 billion dollar bully and help to raise funds for a cause that truly matters – the elimination of violence against women. So go on, give it a go and let yourself grow!

Get Hairy February
Instagram: @gethairyfebruary
Twitter: @GetHairyFeb

*All illustrations by Jordyn McGeachin (@fromjordyn)*