Last weekend I went to an honest to god park. I overheard a woman say people aren’t being cynical enough. I ran into 4 people I know. It’s like cavemen being unearthed from the ice. Let’s face it people: Spring is Here.
And this is a good thing. Winter was fucking awful this year. Like, just terrible. Everyone’s Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) got cranked up to 11. Maudlin, morose, melancholy. These are all words I would use to describe every single fucking awful day of 2015 until last week when the skies parted and warmth rained down.
That first warm weekend took me by surprise and after making last minute plans for drinks I stood in front of my closet scanned my clothes and asked myself the eternal question: what do I wear? As miserable as winter had been at least then the answer to that question had been relatively easy. Wear as many layers as humanly possible. But that would not fly on this lovely 70 degree day.
I looked at a white cotton dress (versatile enough to get to stay in my closet all year, can easily be used in fall and milder parts of the winter) and felt the soft fabric between my finger tips. I took it out of the closet and held it against my body for inspection in front of the full length mirror. It was then that I realized I hadn’t shaved my legs, and wouldn’t have time before the drinking was meant to commence. So I asked myself the same question I always ask when winter turns to spring: Do I shave this year?
Do I start the cycle anew and shave my legs this year, or do I say fuck society, fuck beauty standards, my legs get hairy and here they are. Men don’t have to do it. I see plenty of cool confident ladies with hairy legs and I always think, hey, why not me?
But unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
It’s kind of been forced onto us as modern humans, but also it’s something we perpetuate ourselves. I remember back when I was on OkCupid there was a question on the compatibility questionnaire that asked “Do you think women are required to shave their legs?” Of course I answered no, but I left the option open to be matched with guys who answered yes. And to be honest, I left it that way because even though every sleazeball answered yes, plenty of dudes who were otherwise pretty great also answered yes.
When I brought up my gam struggle to a friend she asked what my current boyfriend prefers. Obviously he prefers them shaved. I honestly think most people do. It’s not like the hair on your head. Smooth legs just feel better to the touch. But he also knows it’s not up to him. His opinion will be taken into consideration, but is by no means the determining factor.
Society be damned, sure, but I do want my partner to enjoy my body, and to know his opinion matters to me.
And what about my job? I can’t wear pants and tights all summer, I work in a creative field but is it unprofessional to show up with hairy legs?
On the flip side though, it’s just one more female beauty tax that I hate having to deal with and I think it’s stupid. It’s another way to hold women back, and it’s more expensive (not only do men not “have to” shave anything according to according to modern grooming practices but when they do choose to shave, their shaving products are significantly cheaper). It’s a ridiculous standard that’s annoying (I don’t have time to shave tomorrow, but if I shave today, my legs will be prickly and I want to wear a dress in two days etc). Not to mention razor burn, cuts, ingrown hairs and those hairs you always miss (my hot spots are my ankles and a random straight line on the back of my calf).
And don’t even get me started on waxing, lasering or depilatories.
All of this in aide of what? An antiquated beauty guideline instituted before most of us were even born. Before second-wave feminism. All part of an effort (whether conscience or not) to restrict and control women. To ornament us as further objects of someone else’s desire, rather than the subjects of our own lives. Something to be looked at and petted, not somebody with agency. In a small way, removing her leg hair also removes a piece of who a woman is.
But these are my legs. They’re my legs and I can do whatever I want with them.
I left the dress in the closet and put on a pair of thin black leggings. I was comfortable and concealed. A few days later I used my boyfriend’s razor blade to shave my legs.
Maybe I’m hurting the feminist cause by propagating something I know to be ridiculous. I’m buying (literally and figuratively) into a set of rules that are part of a larger problem that I believe not only hurts my gender, but all human beings. But that’s just it. It’s only part of a larger problem. I think there are bigger issues at stake then whether my legs are smooth or not. And right now I like them smooth. I think in our feminist utopia you’d still be able to shave your legs if you wanted to. But you also don’t have to now. The point is to not let society or your partner or a potential lover make the decision for you. If you like smooth legs, go for it. If you hate the hassle it takes to remove it, then let those suckers grow.
I guess what I’m saying is, I hate that I felt to make a blog post to excuse and explain why I shaved my legs and will probably continue to do so with regularity until winter comes and I don’t have to anymore.