Women Fight Back Against Body Hair Removal

We know you’ve thought about it (because we have!). Decades into the daily fight with face fuzz, leg prickles and sneaky little tendrils peeking out where they shouldn’t, what if we made peace with our body hair and just let it all hang out? Five daring women accepted our challenge. Here’s what happens when you stop mowing the lawn

by Holly Crawford, Andrea Atkins, Amanda Robb, Paula Derrow and Amy Zavatto
Photograph: Phillip Toledano

Kicking the 10-Tweezer Habit
by Holly Crawford

 My daily brow-maintenance habit began two decades ago when I had my makeup done for my high school senior prom. Though I was the daughter of an Avon lady and destined to become a beauty editor, I had never removed a single hair from anywhere. I didn’t own a pair of tweezers—why would I when I didn’t even realize people plucked their eyebrows? But as I perched at the Lancôme counter, a glam makeup artist with a persuasive European accent bluntly broached the subject. “Honey,” she said, “I don’t have enough space on your lids for all the eyeshadow.” My bushier–than–Brooke Shields’s brows were making my deep-set eyes recede even more, she added. With some curiosity and a lot of trepidation, I weakly agreed to a waxing. The makeup artist took me into a room behind the counter and did it for me then and there. That night, I went to the prom in a red dress with inflamed lids to match (artfully muted by copious layers of makeup) and eyes wide open to an exciting new world of grooming.

And so it began: I was hooked. Since then, I’ve become a waxing-threading-plucking pro. I’ve mastered plump brows, thin ones (no thanks), in-between, penciled, powdered and gelled. I own at least 10 pairs of tweezers and am an OCD perfectionist about my brows. I tend to them every day, sometimes in my car—I swear the light is best there—while waiting at a stoplight. The tweezers are stored in the spare-change slot under the dashboard, where I can reach them without even looking. I also carry a mini pair in my bag to snag strays on the go. Every few months I book an appointment with Shainy, my single-named eyebrow guru at Houston’s Just Brows. Occasionally I hit the $5 threading place, but I have to tweak afterward in my car.

I’m not a particularly meticulous person (a chipped manicure or overgrown roots—oh well), but untamed brows bug me. Groomed arches truly are golden, like a frame that lifts the face so you look happy and perky, well rested and—this I truly ­believe—­thinner! Awesome brows instantly elevate a fresh-scrubbed face and ponytail to polished chic.

I also notice and secretly judge other people’s brows. So taking a hiatus from tweezers for 21 days made me feel the way smokers must when they’re trying to kick the habit. Antsy. On day four, my OCD began screaming for an outlet, so I started cleaning closets and organizing my office.

Day 12: I had a work meeting to attend. Groan. I wore more eye makeup than usual and avoided removing the hip, oversize specs I’d just bought. I braced myself for looks of disapproval or curious glances. No one noticed my overgrowth except me.

The next day, I decided to turn up the research heat by shopping in the beauty department at Neiman Marcus. I braced myself for frowns and hints. Nothing. At dinner with my boyfriend later that week—nothing. Hmm...

By now my apartment was immaculate. But I felt disgusting and out of sorts. I looked tired. Then, finally, it happened on day 22, the very end of my experiment, while I was getting a pedicure at a neighborhood salon.

“Eyebrows?” one of the attendants asked me pointedly.

“Thank you,” I said. “I have an appointment tomorrow.” Which I did. I could hardly wait.

Thrilled to have so much hair to work with, Shainy sculpted the perfect shape with wax and tweezers. Afterward, I felt fresh, clean and complete. When I met my boyfriend that night, he did notice. “Your brows look good,” he said, “like little crowns on top of your beautiful eyes.” Aww!

Holly Crawford is a Houston-based writer who covers travel, fashion and interior design.

What Mustache?
by Andrea Atkins

My father, a tall, dark man with an abundance of body hair, once told my petite, blonde mother that he hoped they would never have a girl. He feared that any daughter of his would be cursed with dark hair in all the wrong places. Luckily, I, their only girl, am more like my fair-haired mother than my furry father. You can’t even see the hair on my arms. Or, for decades, the hair on my upper lip. That changed in my early thirties.

First published in the June 2014 issue

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