I am a woman living in Western society, which means said society dictates that in order to be socially acceptable and more attractive, I must be as hairless as possible. Some people couch it in terms of hygiene–having all that hair in all those places gives bacteria places to grow! Isn’t that disgusting? Don’t you want to be the opposite of disgusting?
When I was younger, I let this dictate how I dressed, especially in the summer. I hated shaving my legs (still do), so I’d spend the hot Kentucky summers wearing jeans most of the time. Society had made me self-conscious of how I looked, and it wasn’t until some time later that I learned to stop giving a damn.
For one, the hygiene argument is patently ridiculous. I can’t believe I let my middle school health teacher con me into thinking that was true. As long as you bathe regularly, having hair in, say, your underarms is not going to make you more gross or smelly or whatever. And anyway, if it is such bad hygiene, why exactly are men allowed to have as much hair as they like in their armpits? Shouldn’t they shave as well, to be less gross and smelly and disgusting?
(Double standards: the bricks on which the patriarchy is built.)
The same double standards applies to the hair on our legs: men should have hairy legs because virility and etc., but on women??? GROSS. There is literally no difference between men and women’s hair. It’s just keratin. We’re supposed to be hairy; we’re mammals for crying out loud! From what I’ve read, women only started shaving their legs when skirts got shorter in the early to mid twentieth century, and that was mostly because advertising companies convinced them that such hair (on the legs and the armpits) was “objectionable.” To who, exactly?
And really, in this day and age, who cares? It’s just hair. It’s keratin. It’s exactly like what’s on our heads.
I could certainly expound on how it’s rather creepy that society (i.e., mostly heterosexual white men) wants women to look as prepubescent as possible, but instead I’m going to talk about my personal experience this summer.
As I said above, I hate shaving my legs. It takes forever, it’s a pain in the ass, and I always, always miss a spot or three, which nags on my perfectionist tendencies. For a long time I just haven’t seen the point. As I said before, my laziness and distaste for the whole process had led me to mostly wear jeans in the summer, or wear shorts for a week at a time until the hair was “visible” enough that I felt uncomfortable wearing shorts.
This year, I finally decided to stop giving a fuck. I have worn shorts almost all the time since late May, I would say? And I’ve only shaved my legs maybe three times. I shaved them today, for example, and they were quite hairy. I wore shorts yesterday, out in public, and no one cared.
In fact, I’m pretty sure the last time I shaved my legs was at least two months ago, and I’ve worn shorts nearly every day. No one has walked up to me to say that I’m disgusting, or that I’ll never get a man, or anything like that. No one cares.
I know I’m making it sound kind of revolutionary, but to me, it kind of is. In high school I was asked by a bunch of… well, preppy girls how often I shaved my legs. I admitted that it wasn’t all the time, and they laughed. I tried to shrug it off, because I wore jeans all the time even then and no one ever saw my legs, but it still hurt.
So it IS a revelation: NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR HAIRY LEGS. If you think it’s going to repel future partners, worry not! Remember that phrase, “If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you don’t deserve me at my best”? EXACTLY THAT. As far as I’m concerned, people who put so much stock into the stupid subtleties of physical appearance are not worth my time.
So yeah. I’ve stopped caring about my body hair, because it turns out no one else cares, either! Most decent people in the world have bigger things going on in their lives than some random lady’s hairy legs. And that’s just the way I like it.