There’s nothing easy about being a teenage girl in today’s United States.
Morgan Mikenas knew this all too well. When her leg hair began to grow and darken, the other girls at school made fun of her. She learned from her peers that body hair was shameful, and she spent her teenage years struggling to conform to society’s expectations of her body. In other words, she started shaving.
She shaved her legs. She shaved her armpits. When people told her that body hair was “ugly,” she believed them. None of it made her happy. No amount of shaving could convince her of her own beauty.
Then, when she was around 19, Mikenas made a decision.
She was done shaving her body. She was tired of the nicks and the dry skin. She was tired of taking time out of her day. Most of all, she was tired of doing something that felt wrong just to conform to someone else’s definition of beauty.
“I stopped shaving because it was an inconvenience,” Mikenas told Vice after a year without razors. “It’s pointless. I feel like it’s an act of submission to the male-dominated culture we live in… Shaving my legs makes me feel powerless.”
As a 20-year-old fitness blogger, Mikenas is at home communicating with wide audiences on the internet.
Maybe that’s why she used YouTube as a venue to share her decision not to shave her body with the world. In March 2017, Mikenas posted a 13-minute video explaining why she no longer shaves.
“I haven’t shaved my legs for over a year, and I will never go back,” she wrote in the introduction to that video. “The purpose of this video is not to shame people who do shave, I just want to speak on how its helped me become more comfortable with myself, and maybe inspire others to do something that makes them feel confident.”
Mikenas figured that the video would clear things up for curious friends and family members. Within a few months, though, her video had more than 1.3 million views. She had gone viral.
“That was a surprise to me,” Mikenas said of her video’s popularity. “I wanted to share my views in order to change the way people think, encourage them to think more about their behavior and to experience self-love.”
Those are lessons that Mikenas had to figure out for herself.
Since she made the decision to let her body hair go natural, she’s been a much more confident person. She’s proud of herself for taking a stand against someone else’s definition of beauty. From now on, no one defines Mikenas’ beauty but herself. That’s empowerment she hopes to share with women everywhere.
“For someone who’s thinking of not shaving, but is concerned about being teased, I just want you to know that self-confidence is your superpower,” she said. “You can be immune to criticism by being fearless. Practice acceptance, for others and yourself.”
Watch Mikenas’ touching YouTube video here. No matter what you think about body hair, this young woman has some lessons in self-acceptance that we could all use.