I saw a tweet explaining that women started shaving their legs in World War 2 because of a nylon shortage. One woman replied: “wow! Thank god for the nylon shortage!” Then I came across I picture of a naked woman on pinterest (not the kind of picture I was expecting between all the Christmas craft ideas….), and she had all her pubic hair. One woman commented: “someone needs to shave. Yuck!” It looked fairly trimmed to me so I assume her objection was that it was too much hair. Or that there was any hair at all.
And all I can say to both responses is… really? Is any woman really truly thankful that they have to keep their legs hairless? With all the effort, money and sometimes pain, involved? In the relatively short period of 70 years from World War 2 shaving has gone from something you do to make your legs look as though you are wearing stockings to something every girl is expected to do from puberty. I was 13 when a guy in my class looked at my legs and asked when I was going to start shaving. I was mortified and bought a razor that weekend.
Like most girls, I guess, I started shaving in high school. I have never waxed. I believe life as woman is naturally quite painful enough, thank you very much. I shaved every two weeks to keep them legs smooth. For whatever ridiculous reason. I was shocked to find out that some girls shaved every day. What are you shaving? Is it really possible that a shavable amount of hair grows back in 24 hours? As I am of the lazy persuasion, I just didn’t have the time to shave every week, so every two weeks seemed reasonable. Except in winter of course when we all revelled in the glorious long-haired insulation against the cold.
A few years after I started shaving, due to my laziness, I changed my shaving schedule and decided to shave when I felt like it. This eventually worked out to about four times a year when I was at varsity (don’t judge me, the worst is yet to come). I’d shave in September to celebrate spring and the re-emergence of legs, round about Christmas again, February and then April if it was still shorts-wearing weather.
This was the pattern until last year. Earlier this year I read this article about a woman who had decided to completely stop shaving for one year (here is a shortened non-flash-based version and here are photos!) I thought, yes, I can do this. (Except for my pits… I’m not that brave.) And that is how I came to stop shaving my legs.
There is a print ad for some depilatory device that asks “still shaving?” (The ad states that shaving is so 2000 and late etc., use this nifty device instead!) I want to take a permanent marker and answer their question in big fat letters: NO! And then add “say no to epilation!” But I won’t because that’s vandalism, what if I get caught and damn my hyperactive conscience.
Of course I know it’s a choice. Whether you shave, wax use creams or whatever, how often you do so and so on is up to you. If it’s your choice, and something you do for yourself and because you want to, then by all means. But I object to the societal pressure to shave. If you are not as hairless as a Chinese crested dog (or even less than) then society makes you think that you are no lady, but a cavewoman!
I may love my hairy legs, the time and money I have saved not shaving them and saying a loud “no” to societal pressure, but I’m not immune to judgement. I do hide my prickly pins on occasion. Wearing stockings also helps fool people from a distance. Which does not help for the summer months, but it’s a good a time as any to test my bravery. In any case, I tell myself that people looking that closely at my legs need to find something better to do with their lives.
This December it will be one year since I last shaved my legs. And just as I respect your choice to have legs so smooth that silk glides right off them à la Cindy Nel in that veet ad (I imagine silk will snag on hair…), please ladies if you see a hairy lady just nod in recognition of her bravery in deciding to stand up to societal pressure. Or maybe she just had a lazy day, whatever. My point is that no disgusted face pulling is allowed.
Let’s just respect each other’s choices, realise that nobody has to do what society tells them to, and question societal norms together in hairy harmony.