Fighting the sexist culture of No-Shave November


Kernel Opinion SIG

Kellsie Kennedy

Since high school, I have noticed No-Shave November transitioning from having only male participants to now including some female contributors. I have laughed along as my friends proudly show me the eighth of an inch of stubble they have accumulated on their armpits. This is always in secret, hidden from strangers beneath a long-sleeve and a flannel. Participating in No-Shave November as a woman feels like a rebellious act, something we get excited for until we feel gross and pull out our razors a week later.

However, shaving for the American woman was not expected until 1915. It was at this time that Gillette released their advertisement, The First Great Anti-Underarm Campaign, that set the standard for women shaving their armpits. This was paired with the fashion industry placing emphasis on clothing that did not have sleeves. 

It was not expected during this time that women would shave any other part of their bodies. Dresses and skirts were worn long and with nylon stockings, so women did not shave their legs until the 1940s. During World War II there was a shortage of nylon, which led many women to start shaving their legs. As beauty standards changed for women, it was acceptable for men to shave or not shave depending on their preference. 

This idea we have developed that body hair is for men only is based solely around habit. Just because body hair happens to be on a woman instead of a man does not magically make it unhygienic. It seems strange that women who wish to no longer shave must hide the fact with pants and long-sleeves. We should not get such a rush about participating in No-Shave November, by just leaving our bodies alone for once.

Shaving is only one item on a long list of expected practices for women. Many of these beauty standards originated because a company was trying to earn more money. Companies know that women will spend a ridiculous amount of money on clothes, make-up, etc. They even advertise in a way that attempts to make women feel as though they are less attractive unless they spend copious amounts of time and money on changing the way they look. 

This November just do what you want. If you feel like shaving, cool. If not, that is awesome too. Many of the beauty standards exist because women have not put in the effort to be comfortable with how they look. 

Pick and choose what you do with your body now, so your future daughter does not feel obligated to spend $55 on an eyeshadow pallet just to have a little self-confidence.