Should Women Be Able To Participate In No Shave November?

Should Women Be Able To Participate In No Shave November?

The answer to this is always yes.

“No Shave November” is a term I became familiar with my freshman year of college. It was just before Halloween, right before class began as I sat behind four or five guys talking about the parties they were going to and their costumes. I wasn’t eavesdropping, just overhearing the conversation while I texted my sister as one of the guys said, “Dude, I can’t wait until November. No shaving for a whole month!”

The rest of the guys nodded in agreement, which was followed by a girl in the corner of the room speaking up and saying, “Yeah, I love 'No Shave November'! It’s awesome.”

There was a pause where I looked up to see that the guys were looking at her with confusion. Then one said, “Girls have to shave their legs. It’s gross if they don’t.”

I’m pretty sure the rest of the girls in class — myself included — would’ve rioted had my professor not come in and started class the second after this conversation took place. So instead of talking about it, I was left to stew in my own anger, while most of the girls in class with me probably did so as well.

But every year come November, I hear the same arguments again and again on whether or not women can participate in "No Shave November", because once again, we love putting women’s bodies up for debate. And it’s a debate I’m tired of having, to be honest. Because the fact of the matter is that no woman is ever obligated to shave, ever, not just during the month of November. I don’t care how “gross” men think it is; women simply don’t have to. At the end of the day, women’s bodies — all women’s bodies — don’t belong to men or anyone else. They belong to themselves.

In eighth grade I made friends with the new girl in school and invited her over to my house one Friday afternoon in September. As we sat on the swings, she told me that a guy — not just a guy, but a guy I knew, had known since elementary school — had told her that her arms were too hairy and that she needed to shave them. I was angry, but not surprised. I was only 13 at the time and had my fair share of other boys in my grade degrading my own body, so I understood where she was coming from. How deeply it hurt. I remember that same year, one of my guy friends told me that my mustache was gross, and that’s when I started shaving my upper lip despite there being nothing there but a few wisps of blonde hair.

There is so much pressure from Western society to fit the narrow mindset on one idea of beauty: smooth and hairless — not to mention white, skinny, able-bodied, conventionally attractive, etc. — and I know so many women who struggle with it and so many women who try to reject it. I know girls who wax their body raw, who shave daily, because they don’t want to have to deal with people making comments about their body and how much hair they have. I also have girl friends who refuse to shave at all, because they’re too lazy or they just don’t care enough.

And I’m not anti-shaving. I’m not saying no one should ever shave again. I personally like the feeling of smooth legs every once in a while. What I am saying, however, is that women should not be obligated to shave. Teenage girls shouldn’t be shamed into shaving. Body hair is a natural and normal thing, whether it be on your legs or your arms or your upper lip or your eyebrows. All body hair is normal, be it light and thin or dark and coarse. There’s no shame in having it. It’s your body. Whatever you decide to do with it, that’s your choice. Of course, maybe it is easier for me to say this as a white woman who does fit into your conventional standards of Western beauty. At the end of the day, my struggles with my body are not the same as other women who don’t fit that narrow mold. My body — a white, thin, ciswoman, able-bodied one — is not scrutinized or criticized in the same way that women of color, fat, and/or trans women’s bodies are, and I recognize that and respect that, so when I talk about these issues, I understand that I’m always coming from a place of extreme privilege. Hopefully, though, I’m saying something meaningful enough that people will listen and agree.

And if women want to participate in "No Shave November" (or just no shaving forever), I say let them. Isn’t the whole point of "No Shave November" to increase awareness for prostate cancer? Are women suddenly not allowed to help men out if it puts their bodies at risk for being too “gross?"

So, when someone asks me if I think women should be able to participate in "No Shave November", my answer will always be, without a doubt, yes.

What will yours be?

Cover Image Credit: Alibaba

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To The Senior Graduating High School In A Month

"What feels like the end, is often the beginning."

It wasn’t too long ago that I was in your shoes. Just a little over a year ago, I was the senior that had a month left. One month left in the hometown that I grew up in. One month left with the friends that I didn’t want to leave. One month left in the place that I had called “my school” for the past four years. You are probably thinking the same things I thought whenever it came down to only 30 days left. You’re probably scared, nervous, worried, or anxious. Maybe you’re like me and are dying to get out of high school, ready to start a new chapter. Or maybe you aren’t so ready yet. Maybe you’re wishing for a little more time.

As scary as it is, this month you have left will fly by. You’ll blink and you’ll be standing in your cap and gown, waiting for your name to be called to receive your diploma. You’ll look back on your last four years at your school and wonder why time went by so fast. It’ll be bittersweet. However, trust me when I say that you have so much to look forward to. You are about to begin taking the steps to build your future. You are going to grow and learn so much more than any high school class could teach you. You are going to meet amazing people and accomplish amazing things. So, as scared as you might be, I encourage you to take that first step out of your comfort zone and face this world head on. Chase your dreams and work towards your goals. You are smart. You are brave. You are capable of achieving amazing things. All your life, the lessons you have learned have prepared you for this point in your life. You are more than ready.

There are times when you will feel alone, scared, or confused. There are times when it won’t always be easy. But those are the times when you will shine the most because I know you will work through whatever problems you may face. Don’t think of the bad times as a terrible thing. Use them all as learning experiences. As author Joshua Marine once said, “Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”

You might think that this is the end. However, it’s not. This is only the beginning. Trust me when I say that the adventures and opportunities you are about to face are nothing compared to high school. Whether you are going to college, going to work, or something else, this is the beginning of your journey called life. It will be exciting, it will be terrifying, but it will all be worth it.

So, as you walk out of your high school for the very last time, I encourage you to take a deep breath. Relax. You’ll always have the memories to look back on from high school. But your time is now, it begins today. Embrace it.

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Dear Senator Walsh, I Can't Wait For The Day That A Nurse Saves Your Life

And I hope you know that when it is your time, you will receive the best care. You will receive respect and a smile. You will receive empathy and compassion because that's what we do and that is why we are the most trusted profession.


Dear Senator Walsh,

I can't even fathom how many letters you've read like this in the past 72 hours. You've insulted one of the largest, strongest and most emotion-filled professions.. you're bound to get a lot of feedback. And as nurses, we're taught that when something makes us mad, to let that anger fuel us to make a difference and that's what we're doing.

I am not even a nurse. I'm just a nursing student. I have been around and I've seen my fair share of sore legs and clinical days where you don't even use the bathroom, but I am still not even a nurse yet. Three years in, though, and I feel as if I've given my entire life and heart to this profession. My heart absolutely breaks for the men and women who are real nurses as they had to wake up the next morning after hearing your comments, put on their scrubs and prepare for a 12-hour day (during which I promise you, they didn't play one card game).

I have spent the last three years of my life surrounded by nurses. I'm around them more than I'm around my own family, seriously. I have watched nurses pass more medications than you probably know exist. They know the side effects, dosages and complications like the back of their hand. I have watched them weep at the bedside of dying patients and cry as they deliver new lives into this world. I have watched them hang IV's, give bed baths, and spoon-feed patients who can't do it themselves. I've watched them find mistakes of doctors and literally save patient's lives. I have watched them run, and teach, and smile, and hug and care... oh boy, have I seen the compassion that exudes from every nurse that I've encountered. I've watched them during their long shifts. I've seen them forfeit their own breaks and lunches. I've seen them break and wonder what it's all for... but I've also seen them around their patients and remember why they do what they do. You know what I've never once seen them do? Play cards.

The best thing about our profession, Senator, is that we are forgiving. The internet might be blown up with pictures mocking your comments, but at the end of the day, we still would treat you with the same respect that we would give to anyone. That's what makes our profession so amazing. We would drop anything, for anyone, anytime, no matter what.

You did insult us. It does hurt to hear those comments because from the first day of nursing school we are reminded how the world has zero idea what we do every day. We get insulted and disrespected and little recognition for everything we do sometimes. But you know what? We still do it.

When it's your time, Senator, I promise that the nurse taking care of you will remember your comments. They'll remember the way they felt the day you publicly said that nurses "probably do get breaks. They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day." The jokes will stop and it'll eventually die down, but we will still remember.

And I hope you know that when it is your time, you will receive the best care. You will receive respect and a smile. You will receive empathy and compassion because that's what we do and that is why we are the most trusted profession.

Please just remember that we cannot properly take care of people if we aren't even taken care of ourselves.

I sincerely pray that someday you learn all that nurses do and please know that during our breaks, we are chugging coffee, eating some sort of lunch, and re-tying our shoes... not playing cards.

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