Friday, March 30, 2012

Nude Legs: The Practical and Feminist Views

Let me be up front with you about a topic many don't discuss: leg shaving. I will never shave my legs again if I can help it (unless I really want the feel of smooth legs again sometime, but it's not likely I'll ever want it that badly).

First, apologies to my mom. She tried so hard to make me a lady, and here I am, all hairy legged and burping at the table with my sisters. Love ya, Mom!

My sister's friend asked one day why I don't shave. My short response was that it's too time-consuming and sexist for me to bother with. Here's the long answer, in two parts.

Practical Reasons

I have always been really bad at shaving. My shins and knees are so angular that I have myriad scars from various careless experiences. Last time I shaved, I ended up with a scar two inches long. I'm not a fan of risking injury like that on a daily basis.

Because I'm so terrible at shaving, it takes me twenty minutes or more to make the whole of my legs naked. I'd rather be reading. Or writing. Or... you know, pretty much anything. Spending twenty minutes on something just to end up with bloody legs (and the inevitable patches of hair that I missed) does not sound like my idea of a good time.

Razors are also an expensive thing. When you have long legs that you don't shave often, razors get blunted pretty quickly, and I don't care to spend $20 a month to make my legs smooth when I don't even show them off most days. Often, I'm dressed weird enough that people wouldn't notice my legs anway.

Okay, so that was for a costume party. But you get the idea. Spousal Unit looks at my legs, and anyone else who might catch a glimpse of their hairy wonder? Don't care what they think. Let 'em stare and whisper.

Which brings me to my last point: this is the guy I married. He doesn't care if I don't shave. I am lucky.

Feminist Reasons

From what I can gather, shaving mainly came about when American clothing styles got skimpier. For some reason, we decided to be embarrassed about all the completely natural hair on our bodies (maybe because advertisers made us more self-aware, as they've been doing for far too long now).

I've never been a fan of doing something just because someone else tells me I should. For me, there are no good, practical reasons to shave on a daily (or even weekly) basis, so I'm not going to do it. The status quo can shove it. Beauty standards are something I've never adhered to, and I don't care to. We live in a society that has started using negative sizing (triple zero jeans exist!) and believes that the more disproportionate and unnatural you look, the more beautiful you are.

Men are allowed to grow hair wherever they want; why shouldn't we? Of course, I don't want to overlook the fact that men are often required to have "neatly trimmed" facial hair at work if they wear beards. But the fact is, they can grow beards if they want, and no one says a thing about it. Woman with hairy legs? Ew, get out of the way.

There's some ridiculous, unstated notion that if you don't shave your legs, you're less feminine. Why? And if you're less feminine, are you more masculine, or just sexless? I still have all the right parts; shaving does not miraculously make me a feminine Wunderkind.

That said, you don't have to not shave to be a feminist, as some people are wont to think. I was a feminist long before I completely gave up on my leg hair. You want to have smooth legs? Go for it. I think so long as you're not doing it because someone else says you ought to, you're totally in the clear. Just remember the following question: Do I think this is beautiful, or does someone else? It's hard to distinguish sometimes, but it's a question worth asking.

Screw advertising. Screw beauty standards. Every woman creates her own kind of beautiful.

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