A 29-year-old woman asked the internet:
My (29f) friend, let’s call her Emily (32f) is an amazing person - she’s fun, adventurous, intelligent, super active, a fantastic cook, outgoing and just a great girl to be around. A few years ago she decided not to shave anymore (legs, armpits, female areas) out of protest to the patriarchy, resulting in her having very long dark hair everywhere.
A few days ago, we were having a beer and she told me how sad her dating life was, that she kept meeting guys and having very fun dates but never got a call back or when she tried asking for a second or third date, got rejected in a very generic manner.
Now after telling her “you’re so gorgeous and wonderful, the right man will come don’t worry” multiple times, I decided to go out on a limb and said something along the lines of “I know this is a very superficial thing to say, but do you think it might help a little if you would shave?“
She was very taken aback and told me she was disappointed I would suggest she change her appearance for men and that I was the reason so many women were suppressed. I immediately apologized but the evening was pretty much ruined. I texted her the next day apologizing again for hurting her but she hasn’t replied.
I really did not want to hurt her but I also don’t quite see how my comment was that bad so I am not sure how to phrase my apology. So decided to take it here and ask people here how big of an AH I am.
YTA not shaving is a value statement. She is looking for a partner in life that has the same values. By telling her to shave you are telling her to change her values just to get a man.
Instead of saying “don’t worry you will find the right man”, why not say “it’s better that these wrong men are screened out than be with one of them that doesn’t value the same things you do. Now that would be miserable compromising your values”. Being single is not the end of the world.
^^This. She's not looking to date men who are only interested in women who shave. Telling her to shave is not going to help her get good dates, just more dates. And those dates would likely be the type of person she won't be interested in. She's right in saying that OP told her to change for a guy, it's just that OP didn't realize that's what they were doing.
NTA. You just suggested the reason she may be having problems with dating. You are also probably correct. Of course she is free to do whatever she wants with her body and they may not meet others preferences, which means they may not want to date her.
This may mean they miss out on a great person for superficial reasons but that is a choice they are free to make.
She has the right not to shave, and the men she dates have the right to think it's gross. People are attracted to what they are attracted to. That's just reality. If she wants a man who doesn't mind that she doesn't shave, that will be a much smaller percentage of the male dating pool and it will be more difficult for her to find a partner.
If she was asking for your advice and you were trying to help her, then NTA. Especially because you are likely right and the hair is the reason the men are not staying. I think it's silly that she is mad at you for just stating the obvious truth.
Editing to add: After thinking about this more, I am thinking that yes, the guys don't like the hair, but the fact that she has it is probably really a symptom of her personality and outlook on life and general opinions, and those things are probably the even bigger turn off for these guys.
And I will also now add (since some people are assuming things) that I am not saying that the men are RIGHT to have this view of a her, or that I agree with that view. I am merely pointing out that based on my lifelong observations of guys, a general/average aversion to that type of viewpoint ("I don't shave to fight the patriarchy) may be why some guys aren't staying.
You may not like that, but that is the reality we live in. There are guys out there who won't feel that way, and that is who she would likely prefer.
YTA. I have leg and arm hair, and I am in a loving relationship with a man who is holding me as he's sleeping. If I would have listened to you, I would have been making myself uncomfortable for someone who doesnt care one way or another.
A more supportive thing to say would have been: "you'll find someone perfect for you, just keep working on yourself and the rest will fall into place." She definitely wasn't asking for advice, just wanted some emotional support from a friend. The world tries to pressure women into conforming to shaving, and I'm sure it hurt to hear a friend also try to do the same.
NTA. “I’m not suggesting you “change your appearance for men.” I’m pointing out that you’re not entitled to their attention or affection, and that if you’re unhappy with the consequences of your choice, maybe you need to decide what’s more important. Your body, your choice to shave; their bodies, their choices to want to give those bodies to any given person, for any reason.”
UPDATE: I am absolutely overwhelmed by the amount of reactions this got. Thank you all so much for your well-worded answers and for your inputs. Emily messaged me yesterday evening asking if we could talk about the whole thing and we had a phone call.
She started by apologizing for her reaction and by the things she said to me. I told her that I wanted her to know that I and many others love her for who she is and the last thing I wanted was to suggest that she change herself for a guy.
Another important piece of advice I got here was to make sure she actually was asking for my opinion and not just venting, so I told her that I was very worried I had given her unsolicited advice.
Thankfully she didn’t see it that way. She told me I had always been a loyal friend who had her back and she always had valued my advice, which was why she was so taken aback by my comment.
I told her that what I should have said is that I feel like in the past, she has been attracted to men who don’t necessarily share her values, and that she might need to be more clear with her dating choices and first make sure they align with her values to avoid being disappointed.
She also agrees with this and we really had a great conversation after that. Thanks again to you all for the insightful comments and for your help!