The onset of puberty comes with many surprises, one of which is growing hair in unexpected places. While you might feel weird or embarrassed about your new leg prickles, armpit fuzz, or pubic hair, it’s something that happens to everyone. Whether you choose to remove the hair or not is totally your choice.
Read on to learn more about why we grow body hair, what it means, and how to deal with the changes going on in your body right now.
Wait, what’s puberty?
Puberty is what happens when your body begins to mature thanks to an influx of new hormones – either estrogen or testosterone. Everyone begins their puberty journey at a different time, anywhere from eight all the way to fourteen. (The average age is 11-12.) If you were assigned female at birth (AFAB), then the first sign of puberty will be sore and tender nickel-sized bumps called breast buds indicating your breasts are beginning to grow. Shortly after, pubic hair will start to arrive near your genitals. At first, you’ll likely have a few thin, soft hairs sprouting up. Over time, it will grow in coarser, darker, and often curlier. After a few years, it might also spread to your inner thighs as well.
Why do I grow body hair?
Hair on our arms and legs and genitals is all part of being a mammal. Just like your cat or dog (or horse or cow), we’re all covered in hair. Pubic hair is a sign of sexual maturity. It’s the universe’s way of letting you know that you’re growing up and in the not-too-distant future you might start developing and interest in sex. It’s also a form of physical protection. Those fluffy hairs help trap dirt and germs that would otherwise enter the vagina if they didn’t exist. Other types of body hair, like leg hair and arm hair are a natural form of sun protection and it also helps trap heat to keep us warm in cold weather.
What do I do about it?
So, do you reach for the shaving cream? Ask your parent to book a wax appointment? The decision is totally up to you. Body hair has been stigmatized in some cultures (though that’s changing), which is why many people choose to remove it –but that doesn’t make it the right decision for you. Do what makes you feel the most comfortable; it’s your body and no one else’s.
Plus, hair grows back, so you can always experiment with it. Try shaving one leg to see if you like feeling smooth or not. Heck, Miley Cyrus once dyed her armpit hair, so that’s an option too. Test it out, and see what makes you feel the best. There is no right or wrong answer.
At the end of the day, body hair shouldn’t make you feel gross or weird. It means you’re a human being and your body is growing. The only thing you need to do is be kind to yourself.