Have I ever told you the story about the cool skateboard girl and her unshaven underarms?
Since I hit puberty and understood that I belonged not to the fields and the pine tree groves, but rather to society and hierarchal order of cool and uncool, I have been paralyzingly terrified of being gross. Of being seen as disgusting.
But as I stand on the edge of my forties, I have finally accepted that words like sleek, elegant, poised, modern, do not describe the real me. They are rather the image of who I want to be. But when polled, Earth + Mountain Mama are apparently what come to mind.
Sometimes, 'who you are' and 'who you want to be' are not the same person.
About a lifetime ago, there was a skater shop selling overpriced denim. And one day, I spent far too much money on a pair of jeans and while I was trying them on, there was a girl changing in the store. Now she was sleek, and elegant, and poised and modern, and a skater and as she carelessly swapped tank tops I noticed that on top of being the epitome of cool...
She also happened to sport underarm hair.
And the rage that boiled to the surface of my Self was more than palatable.
How come I had spent so many years trying to not be gross for men????
And here was this immaculate specimen of a woman, who was obviously giving zero fucks about being gross or not.
GAWD. Where had I gone wrong?
It took me about 20 years to own up to the fact that I really just shaved my underarms to shield others from discomfort. To appear 'not gross' to the women in my yoga class. But slowly I started feeling a fire of confidence.
Each time I shaved, I thought of that girl and her carefree raising of arms.
I thought of how angry I was that I performed this act not as self care, but rather as self punishment.
I thought that with the underarm hair, I was not enough.
I thought that I needed to be someone other than who I was in order to be accepted.
I vowed that I would prioritize who I was over other people's comfort.
And so last year, I attended my first yoga class with unshaved underarms. I spent the entire time wondering who was seeing me, how grossed out they were etc.
Turns out, no one cared.
And so you can spend a lot of energy chasing the things that you think you want. Chasing who you think you need to be to fit in. But those things will never fulfill you.
Discovering who you are, under the clothes, under the concealer, under the bra, under the pretty social media feed; really understanding that person, and then (because that's not hard enough!) being brave enough to be her, in this crazy world., in public, in your workplace, in your life!
Well that feels pretty fucking awesome.
But not shaving my underarms is an expression of who I really am.
And it took me 20 years to realize that.
So I turn to you...
What part of you do you hide, and can you maybe let her out a little?
Just think of me, mountain mama, and take a leap.