By Sierra Aceto

As I settled in for some quiet, study-free weeks at home this past winter break, I spent some quality downtime catching up on Instagram (c’mon, I know you did, too). As my finger slid up and down the screen, mindlessly consuming hundreds of curated photos from celebrities, friends, acquaintances and family alike, I stumbled across the account, Januhairy (@janu_hairy).

Intrigued by this twist on “No-Shave November,” I checked it out. I scrolled through pictures of women showing off thick patches of armpit hair, sporting bristly leg hair and modeling bathing suits with unshaven bikini lines. At first, I was taken aback by this rare public confidence and portrayal of female body hair. But my next thought was: I have to try this myself.

So I hit the “follow” button and forgot about my razors for the next month. The process led to some realizations and perks I experienced from participating in #januhairy, which I have shared below:

Realization: Hair removal is not more “clean”

I had never thought about the fact that I’d been conditioned to consider my leg hair dirty or unclean.  All the while, I knew that plenty of men never gave a second thought to removing their leg hair, but through some otherworldly curse, mine — and other women’s — was somehow disgusting.

It is essentially the same hair that grows on my head, my arms and all over my body, so why can’t I treat it and clean it the same way? Spoiler alert: I absolutely can.

Perk: I re-claimed authority over my body

Throughout the month, I not only contemplated why I was shaving, but whom I was shaving for — and I wasn’t really shaving for myself. My habitual body hair removal was primarily to avoid the judgement, stares and comments I was convinced would erupt around me if I dared show any sign of unsmooth legs.

If I were to shave again after this month, I was going to check in with myself first and ask, who is this for? If not for myself, then was it worth it?

Realization: I was spending SO much money on shaving

From razors to tweezers to shaving cream to threading to waxing, it’s obvious that body hair removal is yet another expense that countless women have been expected to invest in.

By not dropping my cold, hard cash on all the products involved in maintaining body hair removal, I was able to save it! And what to do with all these extra savings? See below!

Perk: Saved $$$

More money means more opportunities to invest in things that actually matter to me: lunch with friends, last-minute adventures and an overall increased investment in practices that genuinely make me feel calmer, more centered and more confident.

Realization: NO ONE else gets to have an opinion on my body

No one else is me. It’s as simple as that. If you’re not in my body, you don’t deserve to judge or have an opinion on how I take care of it. Period.

Perk: I started to appreciate my body more

My body does some amazing things for me on a daily basis. It breathes on its own, alerts me when something’s wrong, works double-time to recover when I’m sick or injured, runs, climbs, jumps, dances and so many other wonderful things. Yet here I was, on a weekly basis, telling it that part of this body wasn’t worthy of being seen or even existing at all.

By ceasing my shaving habits, I was reminded that everything our bodies do is for a purpose — and I am the only one capable of giving my body all the credit it’s due.

My main motivations for joining this movement were to recognize why I started shaving in the first place, why I was still shaving today and if it was really worth it for me to continue shaving in the future.

It’s safe to say I got most of the answers I was looking for, and that you won’t be finding me carting many pink razors or shaving cream cans to the bathroom anymore.