mysticalchild_isis: (hedwig & the angry inch)
Isis/Sarah/Bowie ([personal profile] mysticalchild_isis) wrote2013-02-23 07:09 pm
Entry tags:

My Winter of Not Shaving My Legs

I've always had a difficult relationship with shaving. I'm quite fair-skinned, but I have very dark hair, and so my body hair tends to stand out rather starkly (especially as my ancestors include a number of rather hairy Scottish dudes). And let me tell you, the programming American women experience about shaving their body hair (particularly leg hair) is one of the things that has sunk its hooks deep inside my psyche. Despite the fact that I find shaving annoying and time-consuming, that it tends to irritate my skin, that the hair grows back extremely quickly, and that I don't wear skirts or dresses, I still feel compelled to shave my legs. When I look at my legs and they are hairy, there is a part of me that is disgusted.

But this winter, I decided that I was going to stop shaving my legs, and for the first time ever, I have managed to go for months without doing so. I can't say that I've fully made peace with my hairy legs, as when I look at them, I still don't find them aesthetically pleasing. But I have at least gotten to a place where I don't think about shaving them every time I get in the shower, and I am slowly becoming far less sensitive about other people witnessing my hairy legs.

It's interesting to see the responses to my lack of leg-shaving. One of my older female coworkers thinks that it is awesome, and wishes that she could also stop, but she doesn't think her husband would accept it. Another coworker couldn't even look at my legs when I was asked to show them off. And some people really don't care one way or another.

One of the things I have struggled with through my life is finding a balance between feminism, internalized misogyny, and the way in which all things feminine are disparaged and degraded. Beauty and fashion issues always seem to be particularly fraught battle grounds. One person will describe their use of makeup as empowering, while another will see it as part of the beauty industrial complex that exploits women, and I can see where they are both coming from. I grew up a tomboy surrounded by boys, and while in some ways, that was a really good thing for me (I've never had a problem speaking up in a group of men, or talking over them), in other ways, it meant that I internalized a hell of a lot of misogyny that still sneaks up on me in all sorts of ways years later. Before I went to college, I think I owned a total of maybe 3 CDs of female musicians, despite the fact I've been identifying as a feminist since I knew what the word meant.

So the leg-shaving issue has become something of a battleground for me, as I try to balance out resisting patriarchal programming while simultaneously trying not to degrade femininity.
merisunshine36: white rose floating candle (Default)

[personal profile] merisunshine36 2013-02-24 03:17 am (UTC)(link)
and wishes that she could also stop, but she doesn't think her husband would accept it

This was always one of the thornier aspects of the whole shaving dialogue for me. One of my friends was shocked when I told her I didn't wax my pubic areas because "what if the person you're sleeping with doesn't like it?" It raises interesting questions about relationships, compromise, and how much say your partner should have over your body when your lives are so intertwined. I'm on the "none" side of things, but I can also see how body hair may be a battle someone doesn't want to fight, either because they don't care or it's just not worth it.

I've gone through shaving ups and downs over the years, but at present I am settled into a hairy fall/winter, shaved spring/summer cycle.
merisunshine36: white rose floating candle (Default)

[personal profile] merisunshine36 2013-02-24 06:40 am (UTC)(link)
Yeah, the hardest thing for me was training myself not to make *judgmental face* at people who are into ladyscaping. The funny thing is that I have at least one friend who is adamantly *against* shaving her armpits, legs, but firmly believes that you should manage pubic hair because otherwise its gross. I am the opposite, because of non-logic based feelings that legs/armpits are "public" and therefore can be shaved, but pubes are private and so you shouldn't feel obligated to do anything.
hickumu: (Fireman when the floods roll back)

[personal profile] hickumu 2013-02-25 05:32 am (UTC)(link)
I've always found shaving my legs to be pretty annoying, as well - in part because it's time consuming and tedious, and in part because I suck at razors. Electric razors just never hold up for me. I usually wear sweat pants...sometimes in weather much too hot for it, because I'm embarrassed about anyone seeing my hairy legs. I mean, I find sweat pants damn convenient, overall, but not in high summer.

So I think I get where you're coming from, and I admire you for trying to figure things out like that. I hope you find that balance, whatever it might be. And I hope you find some feminine CDs that actually appeal to you, if that's what you're looking for.
hickumu: (By your side)

[personal profile] hickumu 2013-02-25 02:36 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh! XD I get what you're saying now! College and women's studies classes are awesome like that, aren't they? My gender studies classes did a lot to kick me out of my "ew, feminine stuff is icky" phase, too. Yay for hours upon hours of music! That is always a good state to be in.
hickumu: (Terrier)

[personal profile] hickumu 2013-02-26 02:51 am (UTC)(link)
Are online classes and such not a possibility, where you are? I'm consoling myself over the fast approaching graduation deadline with part time and online classes and such.
hickumu: (School)

[personal profile] hickumu 2013-02-26 02:07 pm (UTC)(link)
I hope it goes well! I will be keeping my fingers crossed and everything. Seminar classes are definitely the best way to go about it, but online classes are better than nothing, I guess.

[personal profile] meri 2013-02-26 12:43 am (UTC)(link)
Totally a proud femme here, and generally I love all sorts of things like make-up, and shaving, and facials,and other things that some feminists frown on. Which makes me just want to sit them down and talk to them about bodily autonomy and the denigration of femininity within feminist and/or queer circles.

I totally feel you about shaving. I stopped shaving my legs last winter to see if it helped with skin dryness (only a little) and was surprised at how embarrassed I was when I wore shorts at the gym or anyone but my partner saw my bare legs. I also had that internalized disgust which surprised me because about half of my lady friends don't shave and I don't care about their hair at all. There was a feeling of wrongness I had towards my hairy legs that I did not like at all. It's pushed me to shave less to get used to seeing my legs with hair, it's also pushed me to look for examples of hairy femme women to see more examples since my friends who don't shave tends towards the either don't care or decidedly butch presentations on the venn diagram of being a woman.
redcirce: feminist pin up (cute feminism)

[personal profile] redcirce 2013-03-07 05:55 am (UTC)(link)
Congratulations on making it so long in your experiment! Shaking that conditioning is really hard to beat.

I find it really interesting what strong reactions shaving or not shaving engenders in people, especially men.

I stopped shaving many years ago. I still don't find it aesthetically pleasing (I am also of the pale with dark body hair type) on myself or others, and I epilate once in a while when the fancy takes me (no stubble that way), but I find that the longer it's been the less I really think or care about it. But I do remember back when I shaved even a day's worth of stubble was the cause for alarm...

(Anonymous) 2015-11-05 08:28 am (UTC)(link)
This past winter I made the big decision to give going natural a try and stop shaving for the first time. The first week of itchy stubbly phase made me question my choice but having naturally light colored hair I thought I could pull off a natural winter. After about six or so weeks I was a fully grown in natural woman for the first time. As Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's passed, I had gotten used to my fuzzy legs. It wasn't until Easter rolled around that I started to think about rekindling the relationship with my razor. I enjoyed a natural Easter but when the summer sun came back I rejoined the land of the smooth. For the first time since I was 12 and shaving for the very first time, I had task on my hands, lol.