All My Friends Started Shaving Before Me—Here's How It Made Me Feel
I was about 10 years old when I first came face-to-face with one of the primary markers of womanhood: shaving.
I remember it well. I was playing with my friends during recess, all of us content and equal in our status as children. Suddenly, one pal brought it up. "My mom taught me how to shave last night," she said. She was met with a chorus of responses, while I remained quiet and confused. Shaving? I don't think I even knew it was a thing. It sounded like a lot of work—that's for sure.
My other friends, unfortunately, didn't echo my sentiments. As the conversation progressed, each of them told the story of their first time shaving. I, however, didn't hear a word. I was too caught up in the sudden realization that all my friends were women and I was still a child. At least, that's how it felt.
Am I being a little dramatic? Absolutely. But at the time, shaving seemed so important. I got through the rest of the school day, counting down the seconds until I could get home and ask my mom about shaving. I climbed into the car and informed her that I needed to start partaking in this womanly practice, to which she strongly stated that I absolutely did not. No matter how much I begged and pleaded, or how many times I informed her that all my friends were shaving already, she remained strong in her position—I was too young to worry about shaving.
Looking back, I can begrudgingly admit that my mom had a point about my shaving habits. Despite the fact that all my friends were shaving already, 10 does seem a little young to take part in such a tiresome grooming habit. As an adult, I can recognize that shaving is essential, but it's also the most annoying part of my beauty routine. If I could go back and tell my younger self to wait as long as possible before I was required to start shaving at least once a week, I absolutely would. At the time, however, the difference in my grooming habits compared to my friends felt disastrous.
Most memorably, the fact that I wasn't shaving while all my friends were, suddenly made me feel very disconnected from my pals. They all had this shared experience that they could talk about, while I barely understood what they were saying. I felt young and inexperienced next to them, especially because I had no choice but to admit that I hadn't yet started shaving. Although my friends were generally fine about it, I felt like the odd man out. Shaving didn't come up often, but when it did, I could only sit there in silence, silently cursing my mom for keeping me from this important adult experience.
However, the fact that all my friends were shaving had a different, more hurtful impact than my sudden feeling of social isolation. Truly, I had never been aware of the hair on my body before I realized that all my friends were shaving it off. I think I knew shaving was a thing in an abstract sense, but I never realized what it actually meant. My lack of shaving made me painfully aware of the hair on my legs. I would avoid looking at it and would often feel embarrassed and uncomfortable if I caught sight of it, even though I hadn't noticed it just days prior. I took to wearing pants more often and made every effort to keep from examining the hairs, as I would often work myself into a frenzy trying to imagine what they would feel like if my legs were smooth.
And noticing the hair on my body wasn't limited to my legs. I began examining my arms, feeling that the soft baby hairs on them were too much, and even the hairs between my eyebrows. I felt like a hairy mess and I was incapable of changing my situation. I had never been quite so conscious of my body before, and I definitely didn't like the feeling.
Last, but not least, the knowledge that all my friends were shaving before me made me feel nervous. This was just the first in a long list of changes that take place as you transform from a child into a woman, and I wasn't ready for it. I still felt like a kid, I still acted like a kid and I still wanted to be a kid. Shaving felt like such a grown-up habit and I was nervous that this new practice would vault me into the world of adulthood before I was ready. I wanted to fit in, but I didn't want to grow up too fast. As much as I wanted to be like my friends, I also didn't want shaving to implicate the end of all our childhoods.
When I think back to that first experience with shaving, it all seems so silly. It mattered so much to me at the time that I be on the same page as my friends, even though there wasn't a rush. My friends never made me feel bad about not shaving—I was the one who was obsessed with it. In the grand scheme of things, it didn't matter at all. I started shaving roughly a year later and immediately realized that it wasn't anything to get excited about.
As an adult, there are times when I'll skip shaving for far longer than I probably should, but I'm okay with it. My obsession with my body hair and how it makes me look has faded with time, and I've realized that prickly legs aren't the worst thing in the world, especially if you're choosing between an extra half an hour of sleep and shaving your legs.
While shaving is certainly an important marker in growing up, it's far from the most important. While I don't think it would have been bad to start shaving when my friends did, I also don't think it was bad that I waited. Everyone moves at their own pace, and the year I started shaving meant absolutely nothing in relation to the rest of my life. In fact, I'd love to go back to my pre-shaving days. Not because I want hairy legs, but because I just don't want to worry about all the many annoyances that accompany shaving.
Shaving isn't as clear-cut as it seems. If you're looking for shaving advice, click HERE to learn how often you should actually be shaving your legs.