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Lizl Morden

Lizl Morden

By Lizl Morden

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.

9 thoughts on “I love my hairy legs!

  1. Lovely article. I gave up waxing my legs while I was still in high school, so I’ve had hairy legs for about 15 years, and I still struggle to get up the courage to walk around with hairy legs in public. And I hate the fact that this silly prejudice has such power over my behaviour.

    How lovely it would be to start a women’s version of Movember – if only we could get enough women brave enough!

    I recently started seeing a guy who, when I told him I’m embarrassed to walk around in public like that, looked at me and said ‘Well, you’ll have to work on that. If I can walk around with hair on my face, what’s the problem?’. Needless to say, he earned quite a few brownie points for that attitude.

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  2. Love it!

    I’m definitely not brave enough to not shave my legs or armpits, and I actually really resent the fact that one needs to be “brave” at all. Why not just NOT shave? My boyfriend’s argument is is that men also have the pressure to shave their beards, and I get that – but at least they can walk around with 2 weeks’ stubble and not be seen as “gross”, or “dirty”, etc.

    In any case, I just wish more of us made the decision not to shave – it would start becoming normal and ACTUALLY become a choice. I’d liken it to the ethnic hair popularity right now – the more women who’re okay letting people see what actually comes out of their scalps, the easier it becomes for every other woman who don’t want to straighten, damage or do anything else unnatural with their hair.

    So finally, thanks Lizl! Thanks for being brave enough, and hopefully you, along with other brave women (& hopefully me too, soon!) can start to make this shaving thing a CHOICE.

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  3. I was similarly shocked by people’s responses to No Shave November (women stop shaving in solidarity with men). (do a search on twitter) I think the point really is that shaving one’s legs and underarms (and pubes?!) is now an EXPECTATION, part of what it means to be feminine. There’s some interesting academic work on hair removal and how hirsute (aka hairy) women are pathologised. Being hairy (for a women) is classed as a disease! Hmm. I doubt this would be the case if there was no money to be made. Which is a deterrant for me: the cost of hair remove, as is the fact that it’s time-consuming, messy, sometimes painful… I just said no eventually.

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  4. Awesome post. I love that both sides are shown to be okay. My general rule is shave or don’t shave; either way, it’s not my business! The idea that decisions made by women about their own bodies is up for discussion by the public has always baffled me.

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  5. Thank you for the lovely comments! It’s really good to know I’m not alone. I’m actually surprised by the amount of women who don’t shave. Maybe if we are vocal enough about it body hair and the lack thereof could happily co-exist in the mainstream and it would stop being a topic of discussion.

    I came across a post written by a woman who did no shave november, and it’s really positive (http://hellogiggles.com/what-i-learned-from-no-shave-november). Seems people sometimes forget we have a choice…

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  6. Brilliant!

    When I was pregnant with my son I found myself in the awkward position of desperately wanting to wax my legs but totally unable to do so because I couldn’t see past my navel. I gave up waking my legs in my seventh month of pregnancy. After my son was born I was too busy, too exhausted etc and suddenly a year had passed and I hadn’t shaved or waxed my legs! Lo and Behold! the world had not come to an end, guys still thought I was hot and I hadn’t somehow lost my ability to articulate and become a cavewoman. I haven’t thought about removing the hair from legs since and my son just turned seven.

    I have come to the conclusion that society is obsessed with infantalising women. Women are not considered sexy unless they have the attributes of prepubescent girls—that thought squicks me to be honest— women are required to have slender bodies like teenagers, forever frozen at that point in adolescence when our breasts have arrived but our hips and thighs have yet to make their appearance, we should also be as utterly hairless as eight year-old girls… ew. All signs of sexual maturity—yes hair is a sign of sexual maturity— must be erased in order to be considered sexy, it is very odd and ironic.

    My personal experience has shown me that grown men prefer grown women and if your man is freaking out because of a little hair perhaps you need to reevaluate.

    I am a woman, I have been through puberty, I have created and nurtured life, I am fertile, deal with it or go home.

    Note: I do shave my armpits though for practical reasons, I live in the tropics, it is hot outside.

    And for the folks who will inevitably say “clearly she doesn’t have/want a man” I have a man and I get chatted up by strangers and or asked out regularly and I wear shorts…often.

    Kisses

    Risée

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