I started shaving my legs when I was nine. Mom did it, and I wanted to do it, because it’s something girls do. So I began shaving. Poorly. At one point, my dad had to continue my education on how to shave my legs (I am pretty sure I was running the plastic edge of the razor over my legs and wondering why the hair was still there). In sixth grade, I pressed so hard with my razor that I tore off a chunk of skin on my knee. Constant nicks and cuts were painful and annoying.
Shaving is hard work.
Eventually, I got the hang of it and then had to deal with the necessity of buying razors and shaving cream. Even then, I didn’t really shave very often, once a week tops. I shaved when I wore skirts and shorts. I did not shave in the winter (because pants, and warmth!)
My ex-husband was grossed out by it, but the way I saw it, they were my legs and not his and why should I decorate myself for anyone else’s benefit if I didn’t like doing it? I’ve had an ex-boyfriend (and even an ex-girlfriend) who didn’t mind when I had fuzzy legs. My cat doesn’t mind. I don’t mind.
My sister calls them my “hairy man legs.” And so do I, sometimes, but I am trying to get away from that… because they aren’t hairy man legs. They’re hairy woman legs. Hair is not an inherently masculine bodily feature, and we shouldn’t make it that way. Having body hair does not make me less of a woman.
I still feel (mentally) uncomfortable sometimes, because the expectation in society is that women should be soft, hairless, touchable creatures. There is an immense pressure on women to have a perfect body, and the images streamed into our brains tell us that perfect is slim and smooth (with large, perky breasts). I reject that notion of perfect for the idea that maybe, just maybe, our bodies are inherently perfect and we don’t need to spend the majority of our lives changing them to make them perfect. Humans are mammals. Mammals have hair. The only reason we feel compelled to shave our bodies is because someone told us it looked prettier that way.
This is not an indictment of shaving. If you want to shave your legs because you like how it feels or looks, then by all means shave! Sometimes I, too, enjoy the feeling of silky hairless skin on clean sheets in the summer time. I also appreciate the razor because it gives me the gift of well groomed facial hair on men.
I don’t think we should all just throw away our razors, though I do think we should all reconsider the reusable razor with changeable metal blades instead of those plastic monstrosities. But I do think we should really think about why we shave. If I remove my body hair, it’s because I want to. I don’t do it for anyone else. Plus, now I don’t have to buy razors and shaving cream!
Let’s also just take a moment to think about how ridiculous commercials for razors and shaving cream are. Women shaving already-smooth legs? As read on Dear Blank, Please Blank, “if you want to impress us, shave a gorilla.”
Do you shave?