• “I’m sorry I mistreated you!” I say to the empty places. (Getty Images)
While others chased Pokémon around suburbia, I chased my own body hair.
By
Patricia Chiuariu

4 Oct 2019 - 8:31 AM  UPDATED 8 Oct 2019 - 5:16 PM

It all began when I was 16. My dad would buy our family groceries and he’d refuse to buy me that pink shaver with the four blades that would make my legs shine, like the beautiful women on TV. He never said ‘no’ but he couldn’t look at me when he begged, “Don’t shave, don’t start, please Patri. You are beautiful the way you are.”

It was my mother that bought me my first shaver. She hated grocery shopping. She never went to the shops unless it was an emergency. And this was an emergency.

I sat on my bed, alone in my room, when I first touched the blade of my first pink shaver, watched how it split the skin on my finger. I had decided that I would only shave one leg, the left one, and if I liked it I would shave the other.

The first time I ran the shaver’s head over my calf, it only shifted the direction of three hairs, while the others remained as they were. The second time I tried, the blades collected the tops of the hairs leaving behind blunt, thick stumps. I liked how they felt, tickling my hand as I ran over them. The third time, I pressed the blade too hard and it scraped the top layer of my skin. A few red drops of blood appeared.

I changed the sheets later that day.

“Don’t shave, don’t start, please Patri. You are beautiful the way you are.”

The next day I ran the blade all the way up my other leg, following the curves of my inner thighs. My mother had said to me, “Men are simple creatures. Set a routine, give them clear instructions about what you want and they will love you.” 

When I was 20, I learned how to use an epilator. It was efficient at plucking each hair deep from its root, ripping at my flesh, one hair follicle at a time, until it bled. “Would you ever shave it all off?” I considered his request each time I washed my blood off the epilator blades. The reward didn’t seem worth the pain I would have to bear. 

“You remind me of John Howard,” my partner told me when I was 25.

“In what way?” 

“Your eyebrows have a life of their own, wandering in all directions.” Like a drug dealer, he gave me the tools to grow my addiction; he gave me his tweezers and taught me how to start plucking my eyebrows. As I spent more time in the mirror, getting closer to the microscopic version of me, I noticed more hair. It was only in the midday sun, in the peak of the summer light that I could see the fine, yellowed hair on my upper lip. It was then, sometimes en-route to an appointment, in the car, in the park, anywhere I could take a moment to pull them out and vanquish them. While others chased Pokémon around suburbia, I chased my own body hair. 

The hair where I had once shaved, plucked, and scraped, now thin and bald in places. The patchy spaces feel sad and lonely.

When I was 31, I met the man that would become my husband and a year later I snapped my legs away from his wandering hands. 

“Don’t!” 

“Whah! Why? Am I hurting you?” He jumped off me as if he’d just touched a hot plate. 

“No, no! Sorry! It’s just that… uhm… I haven’t shaved. My legs are disgusting. Best not touch them.” 

“You’re telling a Greek man about hair? P-lease, spin another one brother!”

Five years later, I decided to let my body hair grow as it was designed to grow. I started with one body part at a time. I tested the hairy skin out in public. When someone noticed, nothing happened. When I walked down the street with the hair waving, no one waved back. When I saw myself, I felt proud.   

Today I stand in front of the mirror watching my body, the hair on my legs, my crazy eyebrows, the fine hair on my upper lip, the hair under my armpits and that one odd hair on my nose.

The hair where I had once shaved, plucked, and scraped, now thin and bald in places. The patchy spaces feel sad and lonely. 

 “I’m sorry I mistreated you!” I say to the empty places.

Patricia Chiuariu is a freelance writer. You can follow Patricia on Twitter @PChiuariu.

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