There have been a lot of restrictions and instructions forced upon those that identify as feminist (which is, of course, ironic considering that a key tenet of feminism involves the shirking of socially imposed expectations on women's behavior and choices...but whatever). Whether it's how a feminist should vote, to how a feminist should dress, to how a feminist should raise his or her children, it seems like believing in the social, political, and economical equality of the sexes comes with a lot of red tape, guidelines, and rules. One of those rules being: A ~real feminist~ doesn't shave because shaving is submitting to the infantilizing aesthetic standards of the male gaze, and...just don't. Not if you want to be the most legit feminist imaginable.
But the truth is, shaving doesn't make you a bad feminist. Shaving doesn't make you much of anything, actually, other than someone who likes to feel like a majestic dolphin swimming around the deep blue Atlantic after they get out of the shower. You don't need to stop shaving your armpits or stop shaving your legs, just to prove that you're a progressive who values all genders and believes that all genders should be treated equally. In fact, doing something just because you think a particular social group thinks you should, is pretty anti-feminist if you ask me. No one gets to make decisions about your body, except you. That includes the forward-thinking masses, who fight against "normal" social constructs. You, as a woman, don't have to prove anything to them, or anyone else. At the end of the day, the only person you should worry about — when it comes to making decisions about your body, or anything else for that matter — is yourself.
So, with that in mind, here are six reasons why shaving doesn't make you a bad feminist. Because, trust me, feminism is more than your decision to pick up a razor.
You're Doing What Makes You Most Comfortable
There's nothing wrong with saying, "Shaving makes me feel more comfortable." Women should stop laying their minds, their bodies, and their preferences on the altar of proven points, just to try and inch their way closer towards gender equality. Women are not martyrs, and should never be forced to become one just so that other women can have freedom and choices and rights.
You do what makes you feel comfortable in your own body, regardless of what anyone else — including other women — think.
You're Not Letting Someone Else Make Decisions About Your Body For You
A cornerstone of feminism is the belief that all people, regardless of gender, should be able to have full autonomy over their bodies. It doesn't mean losing the ability to make your own choices, and it definitely doesn't mean adhering to a certain, pre-determined standard for the amusement or benefit of others. Shaving, especially when you're a feminist, is just another act of body ownership. If a woman wants to shave, she will shave; if a woman doesn't want to shave, she won't. Either way, she is making her own decisions about her own body.
You're Not Doing What You Think A "Good Feminist" Should Do
Being a feminist doesn't mean doing what you think you should be doing, just because you're a feminist or a woman or a man or any defining characteristic at all. Being a feminist means believing in the equality and freedom of both and all genders. It has, in fact, very little to do with policing anything about other people's bodies.
You're Not Doing What People Expect You To Do
You don't need to prove to anyone that you're a feminist. You don't need to vote a certain way or dress a certain way or, yes, even shave or not shave a certain way, just so that others can easily identify you as a feminist. You get to do what you want to do, especially with your body, and if it doesn't adhere to a set of standards other people have set out for you, well, so be it.
You're Exercising Your Right To Choose
Choice. That is what so many feminists have been fighting for since, well, forever. A woman should have the freedom and right and ability to choose what she wants to do with her body. That means if a woman wants to be a mother and chooses to do so, she can still be a feminist. If a woman wants to shave every inch of her body, she can do so and still be a feminist, because that is her choice and she is exercising her right to make her own decisions.
You're Saying What You Want Is Important
What you want, as a woman and a human being, matters. What you prefer and what makes you feel the most comfortable and what you identify with, matters. You can say that you're important. I promise, it's OK. You can say that you have decided to put your needs above everyone else's, because yes, you matter and your happiness matters and your peace of mind matters and self-love matters. You don't have to deny yourself happiness or comfort, for anyone else. You get to do what is best for you, and you get to do it without apologizing.