“Be prepared for some comments when you take them out in public.”
I’ve stopped shaving my legs. I’ve jumped from one stereotype (a girl who shaves her legs, and ‘cares about her appearance’) straight into another one (a crazy, ranty feminist who deliberately doesn’t shave her legs, and therefore ‘does not care about her appearance’).
It wasn’t a deliberate ‘thing’ at first. It was more “I’m too busy, and it’s too cold to spend that long in the shower”. Except every other year (even in winter!) I’ve bothered. I’ve taken the time to scrape a razor across my shins and knees, regardless of whether I was single or coupled at the time.
And suddenly, here I am. Two or three weeks in (I lost count) and I’m suddenly one of ‘those girls’. I have unshaven legs, and when I have a shower, I can feel the water trickling down my legs. When I put jeans on, I can feel the spiky hairs sticking into my jeans. It’s all rather strange.
To be honest, I’m more interested in what my legs are going to look like if I carry on with just not shaving them. For years, it’s always been such a ‘big deal’ to make sure that my legs were clean-shaven, and smooth. Heaven forbid that I had not shaved in a while, and my legs had a tiny bit of stubble across them. And now – I’m interested in the end result. What happens if I don’t shave? Will I suddenly be cast out from the herd? Will anyone notice, or even care?
The answer here, obviously, is ‘probably not’. Which is fair enough. My stubbly legs make up a teeny, tiny part of the universe as a whole, and I doubt that anyone else apart from me is vaguely interested in them (well, maybe my boyfriend).
But the idea that such a small thing – not shaving one’s legs – can lead to such a huge number of conclusions drawn about a woman, is ridiculous. My boyfriend said to me (in a nice way) “be prepared for some comments when you take your legs out in public.” The question is, well, really? Will my legs, those fantastic, muscular, unshaved weapons, really attract comments from strangers? Who are these rude people that feel the need to comment on my body?
And then I remembered that being rude has never stopped other strangers from commenting on my body before. A woman’s body is, in many people’s eyes, public property. It is open for comments, compliments and ridicule. And if you reject any of this unsolicited ‘advice’, well, then, you’re the one that’s being rude. Not them.
The ten plus times I’ve been told I lost weight? All unwelcome. I don’t need to be told this. What about when I’m told that I’m “looking good”? Well, thanks, but again, not intentional, and definitely not for your benefit (in fact, I distinctly remember someone telling me this when I was wearing my supermarket check out chick uniform). The times I’ve been told I forgot to tweeze my eyebrows, or dye my hair, or put on make up, or any other ridiculously trivial aspect of my appearance. All of these, and more. I’m sick of my body being public property. Hence, I am now reclaiming what society expects me to do my body by NOT shaving my legs. Even if it’s just for a little while.
It’s not as simple as me not welcoming comments. It’s more, I don’t welcome comments from strangers.
And as for the idea of me not shaving my legs because I’m a feminist? I guess that’s partially true. I object to the beauty industries (specifically, the company that I buy razors from) making money out a ridiculous presumption that women need to shave their legs (if you’re interested in why women started shaving their legs, see this website). I’m quite certain that the $8 I contribute every few months to my razor company isn’t exactly going to have a huge impact on their financial bottom line – in this way, I am the worst example of a person that has stopped shaving her legs. I don’t wax, I don’t use the funny cream stuff – heck, half the time I don’t even use shaving cream. But I like think that, at least for a while, I don’t have to be concerned about how smooth my legs are.
P.S. If you’re looking for some hairy legged inspiration, head on over to this Tumblr blog. It’s wonderful.