My junior year of high school, a popular boy drove me home in his old VW Bug convertible. He took off his shirt as I got in the passenger seat, announcing that his car was topless and all riders must also be topless. I giggled nervously and rolled my eyes.
As we sped down 7th Street, he complained about my friend, his ex-girlfriend—specifically, about her boobs. You see, her boobs were hairy. There were disgusting hairs all around her nipples, and even on the skin between each breast, he said. I sat in silence as he mocked her chest, smiling politely and nodding along as he replayed his unfortunate experience of their boob-play.
Once home, I locked myself in the bathroom, ripped off my shirt, and began tediously inspecting each teet. I was horrified. I, too, had hairs around my nipples. They weren’t thick, dark, or even noticeable. But they were there. Suddenly my whole chest seemed a horrendous carpet of fur. Was my boyfriend secretly disgusted with me? How many jokes were they telling at my expense?
Without a moment’s hesitation, I reached for my razor and began clumsily shaving my chest. First, the small hairs around each nipple. Then, the peach fuzz in between. Finally, I was satisfied. My boobs were clean. I was free.
Until it grew back.
No more small, soft hairs either. Instead, coarse stubble erupted like a jagged rock. I shaved and plucked and shaved and plucked, convinced of my grotesqueness. But each time, the hairs reappeared in full fury.
Embarrassed, ashamed, and defeated, I finally gave up. The hairs were here to stay.
Heather Ann Gottlieb
In a recent aha-moment, I realized how fucked this episode was. I allowed a boy’s hurtful comments affect how I related to my own body. A boy, whose concept of womanhood was most likely derived from Playboy and softcore porn.
My breasts have since been seen and felt by many hands. Those who have had the pleasure to caress and kiss my chest have done so without protest. My tiny nipple hairs are a delicious reminder that I am more mammal than Barbie, with parts placed for a more significant purpose than satisfying a teenager’s wet dream.