To shave or not to shave? You might not be able to relate, but dealing with body hair is a struggle for many women. Society has created certain standards of beauty which women must follow or risk being seen as ‘odd’. One of these standards is hairlessness, especially on the legs and pubic region.

While some people have a kink for hair on women, and couldn’t be bothered if they shaved or not, it’s still an issue. So I got to hear from 4 women and how this affects their overall body image.

Ada, 23

I’ve always had hair especially on my legs, that’s where it’s the most prominent besides my head. When I was a teenager, I wasn’t so comfortable with it because it felt like such a masculine thing. Although, so far, no one has had issues with it and I’m good now. The part that makes me self conscious is the hair under my chin and neck. It’s one of the first things people notice about me when they look at my face. As a result, I pluck it a lot and this leaves spots there. I also have hair on my legs, hands, a slight mustache, and I just recently noticed it on my boobs too. When people stare, I stare back at them eyeball to eyeball till they become uncomfortable. The whole thing is just like the weight or body type argument; once you don’t fit into the stereotype, then something is wrong with you.

Beatrice, 22

I didn’t really know being hairy was anything strange or different until boarding school. A female classmate, felt the need to keep pointing it out. She told me I was very beautiful, but the way to get boys to follow me was to shave my legs and my brows. Then there was the aunt that would always pull the hair on my legs whenever she came around and ask why I have hair on my legs like a man. A crush has said that to me too. One of my cousins also felt the need to tell me that I have a moustache. After that, I started shaving my upper lip. I saw myself. I can see myself. Why then do you feel the need to point out these things to me? I felt very uncomfortable in my body. My self esteem was in the pits.

The hair on my nipples and chest are there too -thick and dark but sparse. When I want to go and fornicate I shave it off. This is just because I don’t want comments on it. I really do not care if you like it, I just don’t want you to talk about it at all. I keep thinking I could be a lot more beautiful if I didn’t have to deal with all this hair.

Shaving comes with it’s own challenges – ingrown hair, darks spots, bumps, fast hair growth and stinging when showering. Especially because my hair is very coarse and spiky when it’s growing back. Waxing is too expensive and painful. Creams tend to irritate the skin and shaving sticks are not smooth to the touch. That’s not all, there’s the butt hair and the fact that when I shave, I get rashes from sitting for too long.

I really wish I didn’t have to deal with this because it very stressful. It still makes me feel quite awkward and I get worried that people can see the hair growing back. Sometimes, when I’m having sex, I can’t help but think if they can notice it. Why can’t I just be normal? I can’t even go swimming in a bikini. To make it worse, I started growing chin hair recently and I cried the first time I saw it because I am already dealing with a lot.

My mum keeps talking about how beautiful I am and how people will see me and admire my hair. While that is nice, I do not want it. I wish there is a way to actually get rid of everything. It’s just very exhausting. I wish it wasn’t a thing at all.

Shayo, 23

I remember when I was in primary school, my hairy friend was the most beautiful girl. She had very full eye brows, hairy legs and long, full head of hair. There was a day we went out together and someone called her and said, “please don’t ever shave your brows. It’s so beautiful.” Thirteen years later when I saw her, she had shaved it. Lol.

Bukky, 24

Two things I like about being hairy are my brows and lashes. People usually comment on how full, thick, luxurious and well-defined they are. Before now, I used to struggle a lot with accepting this part of me and wish all the hair will be transferred to my receding hairline (which is hereditary by the way) instead.It took me a long ass journey of self-acceptance and growth to confidently start wearing shorts outside my room. Back in secondary school, I wanted smooth legs like the girls in my class, not understanding that we’re all wired differently. So I shaved my legs and believe me, it started growing thicker and faster after each shave to my dismay. Some people say this is a myth though. Forward to the present, I don’t shave often or care so much about the stares I get from people anymore. I’m not really about that trying to ‘fit in’ life anymore.

Now, I only shave when I actually want to. Just for a few days of smoothness and feeling like a bad bitch. Who says I can’t rock both right? Thankfully, the partners I’ve been with don’t mind. They even find it beautiful. Good for them, because I’m not about to kill myself trying to fulfill someone else’s idea of what a woman should look or feel like.


Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.