Why I Shave My Eyebrows But Not My Armpits

A “Fuck You” to arbitrary guidelines and a celebration of accepting yourself at face value


I was 10 years old when I started shaving my body head to toe. My knuckles, upper lip, armpits, legs, pubic hair — nothing was safe from the disposable razors I plucked from my mother’s multipack. Of course, none of it was especially thick or copious but because of my Mexican genes it was black and visible and that was enough to give me a complex. It wasn’t until my pediatrician told me I didn’t have to shave my pubic hair at that age if I didn’t want to that I realized I had a choice in the matter.

Other than being tackled in an “As Told By Ginger episode where Ginger gets in trouble with her mother for shaving her calves as a preteen in middle school, the issue was not represented in media. Female bodied people with visible body hair in media is not something that is shown, even in actual shaving commercials, and the act of shaving is shown in a way that directly connects it with sex appeal. It’s a lot to put on a young developing person with darker than average hair that also happens to have a vagina. With the added zest of struggling with my gender identity, the act of shaving has always been a hornet’s nest of complexities for me.

As I got older, more rules would get piled on. Eyebrow waxing got really big when I was in middle school, pubic hair politics came up again in high school — new additions and addendums seemed to pop up every year. It was another point in the laundry list of arbitrary guidelines that only applied to female-bodied people.

The first time I realized I could just, like, not shave was at the first show I went to at the Smell. I knew punk kids took certain liberties with shaving, but I didn’t know there were so many. (ProTip: Surround yourself in communities, media, and art where you are represented and you will feel more comfortable exploring the way you want to look.) It was then that I let myself relax and put down the razor. Armpits began to run wild, and legs would take the occasional hiatus. It felt nice to allow my body to exist naturally, to finally think about what I want instead of what others say I should do.

Shaving was something I did because I thought I had to, but it became a source of rebellion once I allowed myself to have a choice in the matter. I shaved my head in 2016, letting my Halloween costume as Eleven mask my real motives — looking cool. Just kidding, it was during the height of my gender dysphoria. Shaving my head was me taking agency over my body, not unlike diva, icon, legend Britney Spears.

There is something so triumphant in making the chop, in deciding to be “ugly” in the eyes of a society that places heavily value on European features as the standard of beauty. Especially as a female-bodied person, who has been told since birth that their body does not belong to them. Doing something visually drastic, willingly marking yourself as an other, can be so triumphant in the face of the society we live in.

Buzzing my head was amazing, freeing, and a literal weight off my shoulders. There is nothing quite like feeling the breeze on your scalp, or rubbing your palm against the stubble. It was a fresh start after heavily bleaching and dying my hair, it was a celebration of my otherness, it was a representation of my queerness. It showed off the keloids on my ears, my double chin, my acne — it rendered me vulnerable to the judgment of others while also forcing me not to care about it. Hair and lack thereof is deeply personal and shifts from person to person, it influences cultures and music, it can be an expression of conformity or nonconformity. It can be anything you fucking want. (It grows back!)

Halloween 2018 brought me shaving my eyebrows, which was something I was somewhat curious about but never gave much thought. Born of me being to lazy to block my brows for my full face clown look, it quickly became one of my favorite things about my face. I thought it would be something temporary, where I would draw them in until they grew back.

The more I looked at my face, the more I liked it without them. I don’t really have a reason other than I enjoy it and lets me take my eyeshadow up to my brow bone as God intended. Even if it means I have to shave them every three days, it’s work that I choose to do, that I think looks cool. It’s confirming that my body is mine with each pass of the razor. Have fun with your appearance, take risks, do something that’s just for you. Even if people don’t see it, even if it’s temporary. It’s your body. And it’s all yours, toe to tip.