Friend or Foellicle?

I envision her staring daggers in my direction, facing me with her head held high. She crosses her arms in anticipation.

“It’s time to choose,” she relays her ultimatum, this old mortal enemy of mine, “You’re either with me… or against me.”

I shiver as I stare down the barrel of my razor, but I swallow that lump in my throat. With a deep breath, I release the safety on my shaving implements.

“I’m sorry,” I whisper, lunging to attack, “Against.”

Nearly anyone who shaves any part of them knows that there are two main approaches to sword-fighting those hair-raising pores of ours: shaving with the grain or against the grain. Now I’m no professional, but those who are seem to stand by the same advice: always shave with the grain, to avoid irritation, ingrown hairs, and damage to hair follicles.

I reiterate– I’m not a professional.

Shaving side-note: there are so many better ways to do this, for those of us who care to spend the dough. I don’t expect anyone to laser or wax their faces (though some do), but the options are there especially for those who like to shave larger areas. I hoard pennies like a dragon hoards gold, so when I’m faced with a leg full of unwanted hair, I’m not about to drop a pretty one. For the most part, shaving tends to be the quickest, most painless, and most affordable option.

That being said, it’s a pain in the ass.

I’m not going to delve into gratuitous detail about how I shave my body because nobody cares or wants to know, but I should note that I shave for my own sake, not anybody else’s. A while back, I decided to stop shaving in an attempt to feel more “feminist” and “empowered”, because there’s certainly a power in not letting societal standards define you. But after hardly a week of letting my hair grow out, I realized I just… didn’t like it. I wasn’t shaving so men, or even women (I’m bisexual), would be satisfied with me. I was shaving because having hair where I don’t want it bothers me. It’s not my style anymore, and if I’m casually running my hand down my leg, I’d rather feel soft, smooth, skin than lumpy uneven strands of hair. I shave by my own standards, not society’s.

Personally, I believe that the societal standards for shaving are fundamentally flawed on both sides. If you’re a man who’s never at least tried shaving his legs, I wholeheartedly recommend you give it a shot. Come on, just this once? How bad can it be? It’ll grow back! I find that it could be as liberating for men to try shaving for women to try letting it grow out. Gender roles are a mess, so can’t we try and break this one?

Back to the matter of for or against the grain, I stand by my belief that fighting against is the most efficient option. Now, I’m not remotely claiming it’s the best option. I have suffered many a wound at the hand of my dangerously nonchalant shaving habits, but that’s simply a price I’m willing to pay for the most important result: smooth skin. I won’t lie to you and say I never shave with the grain, because often times that’s how I start, but it’s simply not good enough for my own personal standards. I want that close shave that fighting the natural direction of your hair growth achieves, and I’m perfectly willing to stick it to shaving experts (aka, the man) in order to get it.

“But wait!” Save-the-grainers may say, “There are less damaging ways to get a close shave!”

I know, I know. I could buy better razors, find a way to open my pores, buy better creams or gels; there’s a few high-maintenance options available. That’s too much of an ordeal for me. I don’t care enough to go through all the effort. I want my skin smooth, fast and cheap because I feel like it. I’m not falling for your propaganda, Gillette. Not today, Gillette.

Maybe someday, when I’m not so busy and lazy, I’ll devise the true path to the perfect shave. But for now, I’m content fighting dirty, yanking those hairs right out of their damn follicles as I slice them down at the knees. I’m not afraid, hair monster, you Medusa of my flesh. This is war, and I intend on winning.

This was me in 2014 after I shaved my head for a cancer fundraiser.

In conclusion, I believe that shaving, shaving method, or lack thereof altogether should be a personal choice. While I stand by this, I also believe it can be important to experiment with it. Today, I encourage you all to possibly take a moment and think about what it would mean if you switched up your hair removal routine. How much do you care how society, your friends, or your significant other sees you? What does that say about your relationship with yourself? How would your skin feel if you decided to shave with the grain for a few weeks? Would it hate you if you decided to turn against it?

How would you feel if you stopped shaving for a while? Would you be turning against yourself, or turning against societal ideals? None of the above? Both. Only you know the answer.

Shave your hairs, grow them out. Fight the grain, let it win. Hell, even shave your head if you’re feeling so bold. I’ve done so in the past, and as much as I wouldn’t do it again, I don’t regret it for a single moment. Take charge of your hair, and as a result, your life. Who knows… you might just realize something about yourself you were always afraid to discover.

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