My legs, the weapons

“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.

11 thoughts on “My legs, the weapons

  1. I think it’s wonderful. The only reason I shave my legs in winter is when I play basketball. I’m inspired by women who challenge the notion that women need to be fuzz- free.

  2. I’m a sesonal hairy legged woman. I remove the hair in the summer for two reasons 1. It is freaking hot leaving it there 2. I cycle in shorts during the summer and it is (from experience) less painful to have gravel rash/band-aids on smooth legs then from hirsute.
    I really like leaving my legs to grow out and I feel no less feminine or anymore manly.
    Sure people comment all the time, people are really rude. And of course people make incorrect assumptions about me because the hairy legs obviously say more then I ever could about myself.
    I also get my legs waxed (once or twice) and it lasts the whole summer. I can’t stand shaving or the resultant razor rash.
    Stick with it Jessamy, I’m sure you will endure your share of bigoted assumptions, but you’ll be just fine xoxo.

    • Thanks for the encouragement!

      I’m not sure how long I’ll let them grow for – at this stage, it’s an experiment. I honestly have no idea why people would feel the need to comment on another person’s legs – but hey, people have surprised me with their stupidity before!

      I don’t really have a reason for shaving them, apart from sure, it feels nice. But it doesn’t get overly hot here in summer, and I don’t cycle (or play any other sports that may require band aids!) – so, I’m out of reasons about why I should keep doing it!

  3. *Fist bump* I don’t shave in winter because its warmer and I do shave in summer because I like the feeling on my sheets.

    I have permanently ceased shaving my pits. When I met my current partner I shaved them again for my own insecurities, but eventually got so fed up I sad, sorry bro, not gonna happen. He didn’t care. And now I have luscious pits again and nooooo knicks or cuts or pit zits. It’s all winful. If you go hairy pits remember the first week or two will be smelly and then onces its longer? Dude… no deodorant is needed! Awesome shiz.

  4. It is rude to comment on a stranger’s appearance other than possibly a very mild compliment.

    If I saw a woman with very hairy legs in public, intentionally exposed, I would realize that she’s most likely a feminist, and go on with my day. Since I dont date feminists it has no effect on me.

    As the article states, the feminist choice to be hairy doesn’t really affect anyone else.

    • Hey Eric – thanks for your comment:)

      I agree, it is rude to comment on a stranger’s appearance, other than a small compliment.

      I’m interested in what you think makes up a feminist. I’ve been a feminist for years, and only recently stopped shaving my legs. Similarly, there are women who choose not to shave their legs, and would not identify themselves as ‘feminists’… I don’t think hairy legs really can be an identifying feature of a feminist.

      Additionally, why don’t you date feminists? And how do you know someone isn’t a feminist?

      • You’re welcome!

        What makes up a feminist?

        The woman’s say-so. If she says she’s a feminist, she is. It’s not up to someone else to determine that for her.

        Regarding the refusal to shave one’s legs, that’s certainly a personal right and choice. However, in my experience, amongst American women, the vast majority of who decide to have hairy underarms and legs (as opposed to forgetting to shave or don’t bother for a short while) ID as feminists. That has long been the case.

        I don’t date feminists because we tend to not see eye to eye. I find many of their views and ideologies anti-male, and others hypocritical, such as their penchant for making an issue of gender equality but only when they stand to benefit, or when they prefer it.

        In my experience, there is a small percentage of feminists who are truly equalists, including when they stand to lose. They stand on the principle they espouse regardless. I truly respect that. However, as far as dating them, I don’t think I’d enjoy it. I enjoy the masuline-feminine dynamic too enjoyable to forgo.

  5. Quite honestly, I just forget to shave. It is such a non issue to me. I generally only shave (when I remember to) for me, for my benefit, my boyfriend doesn’t care either way. I don’t spend a great deal of time staring at other women’s legs, but I am pretty sure that most people wouldn’t notice unless you had bright pink leg hair.

    I have noticed the unfortunate habit of people/strangers commenting on things that are really none of their business. I mean, I have some scars that are visible, and whether they were from a surgery or from an accident or I acquired them while on a Lara Croft-esque adventure, it is no one’s business but my own. People have commented on them while I served them in my checkout operator job, and while I was a customer in a store and restaurants.

    Things like that, and other aspects of our beings are not open for discussion with someone unless we deem it to be. This goes for both sexes, it’s not appropriate to comment on an aspect of a man’s appearance without their consent. If the person is a friend/relative, and say for example, they had a haircut and asked your opinion, that is an appropriate situation to comment on their appearance.

    I am interested in the way you say you’ve been a feminist for years, Jessamy. Personally, I can’t say when I decided that men and women should be treated as equals (while acknowledging our differences), it is something that I was raised to believe. It’s a part of me and always will be.
    Did you have a change of heart type of situation or how do you determine when you became a feminist?

    • Hmmm – I guess, I mean I have actively been using the word ‘feminist’ to describe myself for over 5 years. Before that, I had similar opinions – but I wasn’t as ‘out there’ in using the word (which is a whole other subject, the way ‘feminist’ is used as an insult). There wasn’t a change of heart situation, more just an ‘Ah-ha!’ moment whereby I realised that was primarily what I was, *and* what I wanted to do.

  6. This is something that I want desperately to not care about, but it’s hard. I don’t shave or wax in winter at all, but that’s because I’m lazy — which I guess on some level means I don’t care enough to conform to society’s beauty standards all year round. My boyfriend doesn’t mind at all but I seem too. It makes me feel less sexy and I’ll always cover up in public with jeans or stockings. I decided to start waxing so that my legs hairs would become thinner and lighter and THEN I’d stop this hair removal malarkey, but that’s not really facing my fears head on either. Maybe this is something I’ll aspire to do. I admire those who have the strength to go through with it and have it not affect their clothing choices year round. Of course ladies who choose to be hair free have my support too.:)

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