Thoughts on Leg Shaving

For most of my life, my hair colour and I have been in a complicated relationship. As a child I didn’t care much about it, except of that one time my mum told me I’m lucky to have naturally dark eyelashes, which aren’t even that dark.

But ever since I was, say, 13, I’ve hated my hair colour. Naturally, it is mouse brown that – I kid you not – looks grey in certain lightning. So starting when I was about 14 (after that incident where we thought it would be awesome to all dye our hair violet on a school trip and I was the only one to pull though with it – thanks, guys), I’ve been semi-regularly dying my hair chocolate brown or middle brown or maroon or something similar. My mum is an avid at-home-dyer and I’ve never been very attached to my locks, so it wasn’t much of a problem.

Problem solved? Not nearly.

Because as practical as it is to have, well, at least noticeable eyelashes and brows, it also comes at a high price: The Dark Leg Hair of Doom.

What I’m saying is that my unshaved legs are, well, extremely fluffy. It’s not all that thick, but you can definitely see it from metres away.

This made me the first of my direct friend group to be concerned about shaving my legs. Of course, I didn’t notice at the time, but a friend recently told me that I was basically the reason she even noticed the existence of her leg hair. (Oops.) But in my 12 year old eyes, everybody’s legs were fabulously hair-less – except mine. I didn’t notice that only 2 or 3 girls in my class were shaving their legs and nobody in the whole world cared about mine; for two summers, I basically ruined my favourite weather (too hot to move) with the concern I had about my admittedly clearly visible leg hair.

The worst thing is that the only thing standing between me and a razor wasn’t my mum, no- it was the fear to talk to my mum about it. Yup: It took me two freaking years to get over myself to ask her if I could start shaving, which was absolutely ridiculous considering that we’re really close and I knew that she’d let me if I only asked.

After I finally got over myself and started to shave my legs, I still couldn’t run into the sunset on my incredibly smooth legs, nope. Because that’s not how life works, I absolutely despised shaving. I thought it was tiring, a waste of time, uncomfortable and hard. The only reason I kept going was because the only thing I hated more than shaving was having hairy legs.

Looking back, I think I was just not ready to shave. Sure, I still don’t love it, but I think it can be really soothing at times. I don’t know. I can’t even remember if I actually liked having hairless legs because I liked them or because others seemed to expect them. But then again, if you think about it, shaving body parts didn’t even exist before 1900 or something like that. So it’s extremely possible that we all wouldn’t mind certain hairy body parts if we weren’t manipulated by society to expect child-like smoothness.

Or, of course, humans generally like being hairless but were only given the tools about a hundred years ago. But shouldn’t it be a matter of taste? Also, why do we consider hair on some body parts disgusting and on some not? Why is a full eyebrow beautiful, but add some hair in the middle and the person becomes hideous? In Greece, mono-brows were considered beautiful because they were a ‘natural look’. Today, a natural look means wearing as much makeup as possible without it looking like you were wearing makeup. Nobody wants to see a real ‘natural look’.

Also, there’s the sexism of it all. While mono-brows are never considered okay, leg hair is completely okay for men to have, and those who choose to shave are promptly labelled.

I don’t know if I’ll ever come to terms with my body hair. Few people probably do. I don’t think I could bring myself to go out in shorts and unshaven legs right now (not only bc it’s freezing), but then again, I don’t live in the most accepting city. Honestly, I really hope that we’ll come to a point in this society where it’s okay to do what you want with your body hair, but neither do I see this change coming (in the contrary), nor am I willing to make the first step.

I guess the conclusion to this is that society sucks, and so do I. Maybe this is bullshit, but I don’t think me not being comfortable enough not to shave doesn’t stand in the way of my feminism. Because at least, I’m trying hard not to judge people based on their hairy-ness. And if everybody would do that, this whole post wouldn’t have to be written, right?

 

Kerstin

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