June 27, 2012

Simply Hairy

In a recent survey, 33% of women said that shaving their legs is the first grooming activity to be cut from their routine when they are feeling overwhelmed. 

The simplicity movement is getting attention, and not all of it is good. Business interests are trying to cash in on the fact that a growing number of people are feeling tapped out mentally and financially by busy consumer-oriented lives.

You can tell when a social movement is gaining momentum when it gets co-opted by the corporate world. Enough people are now simplifying, or desiring to simplify, that advertisers are targeting the 'simplicity market'.

Now they want to try to sell stuff to 'help' people simplify, which doesn't seem to make much sense to me. It looks like simplification-washing is the new greenwashing.

A case in point is the 2012 Simplicity Survey sponsored by a large personal care product manufacturer that sells, among other things, women's hair removal products.

Here is a bit of what they found out after talking to 1000 women in the US:


   -- 71% of women say they have girlfriends that need to simplify their lives, but can't or won't
   -- 32% of women think that reducing social and family obligations would help simplify their life

   -- 40% of women say simplifying to them is removing things that cause stress in their life

   -- 25% of women say simplifying means focusing on what is really important

   -- 56% of women find themselves wishing for a simpler life more than 4 days a week 

   -- 42% of  women have beauty products they never use
The company said the survey revealed that "women need to simplify their lives", and then they offer their simplicity expertise.

They propose 'solutions', but what they fail to mention is that they are the ones that created the problem in the first place.

This problem, manufactured mostly in N. America in the 20th century using shame as a motivator, is the social obligation of maintaining a hairless body.

So what is their solution for the modern woman yearning for more time and less hassle and stress? A more convenient shaving product to simplify the process of becoming less hairy, and therefore less offensive to a culture they have trained to see body hair as dirty, unnatural, and 'objectionable'.

I have a different take on their survey and their solution, starting with questioning the assumption that we have to be hairless.

I think what the feedback says is that there is a large group of women willing to give up shaving altogether, or at least cut it back to a simple minimum amount.

Saying no to frequent, expensive, and time-consuming hair removal saves money, and frees up valuable time to do more enjoyable things. No one needs a better shaver, but they might benefit from being freed from arbitrary social obligations manufactured solely for profit.

After all, not all women, or men, in the world are as hair-phobic as in western countries. Maybe, like them, we can keep it simple by saying "no" to artificial problems and their unnecessary solutions, and embrace our natural hairiness.

How hairy are you willing to get in the name of simplifying life?

Don't worry, there is nothing to be ashamed of here. You are among nice, hairy, understanding people.


  1. I am happy to be hairy. It is natural

    1. "Happy to be Hairy"... sounds like a good slogan for living naturally.

  2. I do shave but not that often and even less in winter months. I do have to be careful though....it may be when I lived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan my non shaved legs may of started the whole Big Foot running through the woods rumors............

  3. Anonymous6/27/2012

    I realized last week that shaving is something that I'll have to give up because I just can't manage it anymore. Once again what seems to be "my disability" is teaching me a lesson I may not have learned otherwise.So I'm embracing my natural self, hair and all.

  4. I still shave. It's just my personal preference. I have no problem with women who choose not to though. However, I certainly don't fall prey to the ridiculous amount of products available for hair removal (as well as everything else) - the choices are so overwhelming!!! I keep it super simple with a two-blade razor (which I keep dry when not in use and dab on a touch of mineral oil so it lasts as long as possible) and plain old Ivory bar soap. Actually my whole beauty routine is super simple these days - let my hair dry naturally, makeup only when going out/special occasions, homemade face wash and deodorant, etc. I'm much happier than when it used to take me almost an hour to "get ready".

    1. Thanks for sharing some simple solutions.

      Those blades are expensive, and pampering them is worth the trouble. I do everything I can to make mine last (keep them clean and dry, and strop them on denim every once in a while).

      Although men's beards aren't as 'controversial' as women's body hair, we still equate a man shaving with "cleaning up".

      Lately I have been experimenting with growing a beard for a week or so, then cutting it back using my hair cutter on the lowest setting.

      Then I use a razor to shave my neck and cheeks. Therefore, I only use my razor a few times a month - they tend to last not-quite-forever.

      Why not just grow a big bushy beard? Am I also succumbing to social pressure? I wonder what the dudes out there think?

  5. I still shave, but as far as the hair on my head goes, I unfortunately have very thin hair and over the years I have spent $8000 on hair transplants, $3500 on custom hairpieces and goodness knows how much I spent on Rogaine over a 20 year period. Despite all that, my hair continued to thin on top. About 4-5 years ago, I accepted my fate and chucked it all. I started wearing headband bandannas that I buy from the wonderful crafters on Etsy. I no longer feel self conscious and I don't have to worry about rain, wind, or humidity. No more expensive wigs, potions, hair thickeners, etc. Luckily I have a husband who loves me and a job in food service where the bandanna is acceptable.

    1. Funny how we hate all body hair... except head hair which is deemed sacred.

      I have been trying to convince Linda to shave her head just for the experience.

      Every time I have buzzed my hair down to bristles it has felt wonderfully liberating, but unfortunately it is not the same for women.

      What a great, simple solution you came up with. A loving partner sure does help, too.

    2. I had hubby shave half my head a few months back in part to demonstrate to the kids not to care what other people think and well I just wanted to experience doing something a little "crazy" and you are right it IS liberating, and once it grew in a little and I cut the rest of my hair really short, I loved how little shampoo was needed! You can see a photo of the half shaved head at http://www.simplyhomeschooled.com/2011/11/hair-hair-it-is-just-hair.html

      I think people give too much credit to hair and how it is viewed...it is only hair! :)

  6. Thanks for the smile this morning. I enjoy your writing style. I still shave my legs and underarms, but I resent it. : )

    1. Linda says,

      "I have railed against this forced, and often unperceived social requirement, ever since I was ridiculed for my hairy legs at AGE 12.

      My mom's response was to give me a shaver, rather than the choice to shave or not to shave.

      It would have been nice for her to let me know people can be mean, and my legs were just fine the way they were.

      I still have the razor mom gave me. I don't use it often.

      Armpits? That is a whole other story of public ridicule, and my further rejection of the social norms of the mainstream."

  7. Wow, love all of these comments! I have experimented with no shave at all for long periods, but i feel cleaner with shaven legs. However, I am lazy about shaving said legs. I am very lazy about the armpit area, I shave those every once in a while. BUT, I keep my hair at less than an inch long for over 15 years. And I am a Barber! I decided earlier this year that my 'life hair' will be at the lowest setting on my clippers- less than 1/8". I have worn it shaved shiny bald, did that for about 4 years. Sometimes, I wear it 5/8". Changing it up just a little, keeps it fresh. And I agree, Greg, I believe all women should shave theirs, just for the experience, and the freedom, just once! They would learn so much about themselves.

    1. We are encouraged to become hair obsessed in order to keep the personal care industry profitable. Even men these days are practicing a kind of hyper-grooming that was the sole domain of women until recently.

      It can get a little phobic, but it sells a lot of product.

      I am more along the lines of you hair care regime, and Linda, too. However, I still haven't talked Linda into having me take the clippers to her head for a little 1/8" action. She is getting close, though. Your comment might inspire her to take the plunge...

  8. Love reading all the women who don't buy the hairless hype! Gregg, I agree -- it's all fabricated to sell more products, and to teach women to not trust themselves or their bodies. My philosophy is that we have hair on certain areas of the body for a reason. Why mess with Nature's design?

    RE: Women and very short hair: I've had short hair for 12+ years and would never go back. I love my curls, so don't see ever going super-short; for the women who do, they're gorgeous!

    1. Erin, Linda has long hair, and every day I pin it up for her and make it short hair. I am not sure why we don't just cut it short.

      Either way, short or very short takes some guts for while hair in other places is taboo, hair on the head is sacrosanct. Especially for women.

      I can get away with a Walt White look. Linda? Maybe not so much.

  9. Anonymous10/02/2013

    I suppose I shave to save myself from shame. I had a classmate tell me my legs were hairy at age 11, and the guy I had a crush on would stare at them as we walked during our running route in gym class. It was humiliating. I borrowed my dad's razor. When I was in my early 20s, I didn't shave for a few days and my now ex-boyfriend and I were having sex, and I raised my arms and he looked at them with this disgusted look in his face, and finished quickly.
    I don't have a boyfriend right now, but I shave everyday to lessen the smell and because I have to look at myself, and I care, so I shave my upper and lower legs and armpits. Perhaps those two incidents affected me more then I realize, seeing it all in writing now. I wish I could say I don't care, but I do.

    1. Anonymous, You have said what most women would say if they were being honest with themselves. Most men, too, I guess, or we would see more beards.

      Linda has had similar experiences, and they affected her attitudes deeply as well. It is hard not to care, especially when you are in your younger formative years.

      Peer pressure is harsh, relentless and hard to ignore. It often stems from ignorance, like your ex- boyfriend.

      Advertisers have portrayed women in ways that are unnatural and unachievable. Dissatisfied people buy more products in their failed attempt to achieve the impossible airbrushed ideal.

      More products purchased means more profit. Yes, they are profiting from the unhappiness, embarrassment, and shame that they themselves have manufactured in consumers.

      Thank you for sharing your powerful story.


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