Hair Part I: Legs

I’ve never been particularly consistent about shaving my legs. They were already pretty hairy when, at age 12, I asked my mother for my first razor. It was pink and disposable. After my evening shower, I grabbed it and the shaving cream, and attempted to de-hair my legs. It took a long time. The razor kept getting clogged and I nicked my heel. It gushed blood, as heel nicks do, and the bleeding took forever to stop. But, by the end, I managed to get most of the hair, save for a few random patches. I pretty much always miss a couple spots.

I never shaved my legs in the winter. Sure, I agreed with the commercials that “silky smooth” felt great, but I just couldn’t be bothered. I’d have fits of embarrassment in gym class because we had to wear shorts, but an extra five minutes of sleep trumped that embarrassment. Thus went my first experience as a hair nonconformist.

I maintained my non-diligence through college, shaving (mostly) during skirt season and covering my hairy legs with long skirts and tall boots through the winter.

Then I moved to Seattle, where pretty much every season is skirt season.

I started dating my soon-to-be-husband and gained my leg-shaving motivation. After all, why would a great guy like him stay with a fat, hairy woman like me? One strike or another might be OK, but tolerance of both just seemed like too much to ask for.

And, well, I couldn’t be less fat, so I would be less hairy.

For the first few months of our relationship, I shaved without fail. Then I started testing the waters. A day without shaving. 2 days. 3. A week.

The STBH didn’t say anything.

Finally, the secret came out: the STBH didn’t actually care about silky smooth legs. In fact, he thought the whole hair-removal thing was pretty weird.

I didn’t really understand. Didn’t he know that women were supposed to have smooth legs? Didn’t he know that I was supposed to be ashamed of my stubble? Didn’t he know that “hairy” is one of the worst things a woman could be?

I continued shaving regularly for a bit, but it became a less and less frequent regimen. I haven’t yet reached the point where I feel comfortable with my hairy legs all the time, but it’s a process. I haven’t replaced my razors in a while, though I did shave before the last wedding I went to. Sometimes I have a fit of wanting to feel feminine, and my brain still thinks that I can only do that with smooth legs.

Most of the time, my logic goes as follows:
1. “I should shave my legs! I will look prettier with shaved legs!”
2. “I have no razors. I need to get razors.”
3. “I totally don’t have time to get razors. Maybe on the way back from work…?”
4. “Wait, fuck this. Why should I go out of my way to shave my fucking legs? I’m no less of a woman when I have leg hair! Smash the patriarchy!”

As I said, it’s a process.

I really wanted this to be some story about how I made an enlightened decision that razors are tools of the patriarchy and cast them away in a fit of rebellion. But really it’s the story of claiming back a bit of time and money for myself.

I’ve been challenged on that, mostly by other women, even feminist ones. I’ve gotten side-eyes while in bathing suits and comments while in dresses. I’ve been asked whether I’m making a statement, and sometimes I feel like I am.

But most of the time, the statement is that I just don’t feel like it. And that’s OK.

In many ways, my resistance to shaving feels like my resistance to dieting. It’s work that I’m supposed to do in order to maintain patriarchal standards of beauty. Even if I’m not intending to be subversive, I am, simply by enjoying and living in my fat, hairy body. It’s selfishness, and women aren’t supposed to be selfish. It’s abstaining from a beauty requirement, and women are supposed to uphold a certain paradigm of beauty. It’s a challenge to what patriarchy says a woman should look like and it’s a challenge to women who buy into those standards to consider why they spend the time and money.

What’s sickening is that even something as simple as letting leg hair grow out has its consequences. I don’t wear skirts while on job interviews or while presenting at conferences, for instance. My clean, soft leg hair would be seen as unkempt at best, a sign that I neglect self-care at worst. But I think that’s just another reason to be more public about my hairy legs. An army of hairy-legged feminists sounds scary to a lot of people, other feminists included, but I think it’s just the thing we need. I hope that the more women are upfront about not wanting to shave their legs, the more accepted it will become to abstain completely.

84 comments for “Hair Part I: Legs

  1. robotile
    August 22, 2012 at 10:30 am

    I look back fondly on my hairy days. I gotta say, not shaving is easier in Seattle, the birthplace of my formerly hairy armpits, and I felt like it was an accepted choice there. Now that I’m in SF, I don’t leave the house wearing a skirt or a tank top without shaving at least a few days ago.
    It’s definitely hard to reconcile the fact that you think shaving is a stupid cultural expectation of women with the fact that people will stare at you if you don’t do it.

  2. Chiara
    August 22, 2012 at 10:41 am

    I think it’s just a common decency thing, you know? sure it’s a bit unfair that guys dont have to do it, but I dont think its a huge afront on women’s rights. it’s just a politeness thing, like how guys have to shave their facial hair.

    • Jules
      August 26, 2012 at 1:10 am

      But men don’t need to shave and beards are sexy! I think it is a double standard, who does the hair hurt? NO ONE AT ALL!

    • August 27, 2012 at 7:42 pm

      What exactly is polite about shaving one’s legs? Or, to put it another way, what about not shaving one’s legs is impolite?

  3. EG
    August 22, 2012 at 10:41 am

    I admire you! I went through periods when I was younger of trying not to shave my legs or my armpits…eventually I decided that the anxiety and self-consciousness and agita I felt whenever I wore a skirt or tank top was a higher cost than the thought and effort I gave to shaving, and it didn’t seem to be getting any better. So I went back to shaving, but drew the line at my armpits and my legs below the knee. I agree with every part of your analysis, though, and completely support your patriarchy-smashing decisions. And I’m not being sarcastic. Beauty work is a heavy labor put on women, and I’m glad to see any of us shake free of any part of it.

  4. Shoshie
    August 22, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Chiara- How is it common decency? I feel like that has to do with things that actively impact other people, like, say, showering before getting on an airplane. But my leg hair doesn’t really impact people the same way my smelly body might. It might offend people’s sensibilities, but my whole body does that, simply by virtue of being fat.

    Also, men have to maintain facial hair, but I know several men with beards.

    Also, some women have facial hair. More on that later.

  5. GinnyC
    August 22, 2012 at 10:46 am

    I hate shaving, but I also hated how my legs felt between shaving when I shaved. Stubble drives me kind of crazy, so I ended up shaving my legs every day.

    I started waxing around 5 years ago. I wax much less frequenty than I shaved. Also, when the hair grows back it’s not annoyingly prickly like shaving stubble.

    I have to remove the hair from my legs for work. Maybe I’m indoctrinated, but in the hot climate I live in, I do prefer to have less hairy legs. I actually enjoy the ritual of waxing too.

  6. LG
    August 22, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Yay for fat, hairy legs! I had some pretty outdoorsie friends in high school who stopped shaving their legs which gave me the courage to stop shaving my legs too. I didn’t shave for about six years, until I worked at a summer camp. When my coworkers found out I didn’t shave my legs, I could tell they were going to make a big deal out of it and pressure me to shave, so I just did it on my own before they could make a big thing out of it. I shaved on and off for a few years after that and then started waxing. I still wax my legs at least a few times a year, but there are plenty of times in between when I let me legs get hairy, and I’m fine with that.

    I’m glad I gave up shaving as a teen because it really helped me to see a lot of the BS of patriarchal expectations for women’s grooming. Plus, it was a great way to weed out jerks when dating – he thinks it’s gross that I have leg hair? = not worth my time.

  7. August 22, 2012 at 10:59 am

    it’s just a politeness thing, like how guys have to shave their facial hair.

    But a man having facial hair is accepted as part of “being a man”, whereas a woman having hairy legs is regarded as an affront to femininity and so detested by many people. Big difference.

  8. bleh
    August 22, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Yeah, the indoctrination has worked on me. I’m not exactly militant about my legs, but my armpit hair really does hold onto the bacteria (and the attendant odor) more than smooth pits. For me, I’ll never give up pit shaving. The legs… we’ll see.

  9. Sharon
    August 22, 2012 at 11:13 am

    I don’t remember the last time I shaved my legs. I don’t really care to. Women grow hair on their legs. Why is this considered unfeminine? I also don’t show my legs in public either so few people saw them. Still, my ex-husband didn’t complain about my hairy legs either.

    I also don’t understand why women have to shave their underarm hair either when men don’t. I do shave my underarms because, to be honest, my underarms smell better when I do but the double standard and sexism leveled at women who don’t shave their legs or underarms is ridiculous!

  10. Kristen
    August 22, 2012 at 11:14 am

    I admire women who don’t feel the need or desire to shave (regularly or at all). I think it’s arbitrary and unnecessary, and the fact that unshaved legs signify a lack of personal hygiene/upkeep is ridiculous.
    Personally, though, I like the feeling of my shaved legs. When I’m wearing a skirt and femme-ing it up I wouldn’t feel the same degree of sexiness if I didn’t do the “whole routine,” including shaving. That said, the fact that my feeling sexy and feminine depends on whether or not my legs are shaved is, of course, a result of social conditioning. It is hard to reconcile the fact that things that make me feel good and sexy are also things that make me feel good and sexy because society tells me that they should.
    When I start shaving for my boyfriend’s sake, though, that’ll be the time to reassess my priorities. I do it for me, not for him, and he doesn’t care either way.

  11. abra
    August 22, 2012 at 11:16 am

    @robotile, I too experience it as a geographical thing. I live in a central city (in the Midwest, so it is still not a bastion of liberalism! but I feel like a bit of a rebel for choosing to live “in the city” with kids so not shaving my legs is an extension of that) and regularly go around in shorts and skirts with visible leg hair — not just several days of stubble but a week’s worth or more of hair growth. But, occasionally, I have to go to the ‘burbs, we’re talking a matter of less than 20 miles, and I don’t feel comfortable doing it there.

    Last week, I spent the whole day in shorts (I work from home) — went for coffee, to pick kids up from school, to the store. When I sat down in the dentist’s chair in my dentist’s suburban office for an evening appointment, I cringed when I glanced down and saw that I hadn’t shaved in a quite a while. It hadn’t bothered me all day while in my normal sphere of active but when I stepped out of it, I wished I’d taken the time!

    My husband likes shaved legs but isn’t bothered by hairy ones and appreciates what a pain it is to shave… he grew a beard in part because it required maintenance ~2xs/wk instead of daily.

  12. Donna L
    August 22, 2012 at 11:36 am

    the more women are upfront about not wanting to shave their legs

    Please keep in mind that “women” includes trans women, who, for the most part, don’t have the ability to make that choice after transition. If a cis woman doesn’t shave her legs, she risks all the things you’ve mentioned. If a trans woman doesn’t shave her legs, she risks, at the very least, being perceived and identified as a man.

    Prior to transition, and perhaps especially given the fact that I was a rather hirsute Jewish person, not having societal license to remove body hair — legs, arms, hands, chest — was one of the most intensely painful aspects of my dysphoria, as such an always-visible reminder of my being forced to live as a man. There were times I couldn’t bear it anymore and removed it, which created great practical difficulties like spending one entire summer wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts for fear of my shameful secret being discovered. (Not that anyone would even have noticed, probably.)

    So, wholly apart from any practical risks that might result from any decision on my part not to shave my legs now, I would never, ever want to stop doing so, even if it became entirely acceptable for women in general. It would be a nightmarish reminder of the past. Miraculously, though (given my prior state), shaving my legs and armpits isn’t that much of a burden: after 12 years on hormones, and almost 9 years since I had to worry about testosterone, a swipe with a razor here and there every week or two is plenty. Thank God. If only the same were true with my remaining facial hair, one of the banes of my existence, I’d be content.

  13. Kara
    August 22, 2012 at 11:40 am

    I shave my legs because I don’t like the feeling of the hair rubbing against my pants or socks or whatever I am wearing on my legs. And if any leg hair gets caught in something? Yeeouch!

    I shave my armpits because (like an earlier poster) everything is cleaner and less smelly when I shave. Also, deodorant gunked up in underarm hair is just gross.

  14. August 22, 2012 at 11:43 am

    I’m a lazy shaver of legs, but pretty militant about the armpits. Current SO has tried to encourage me to go without, because unnecessary.

    It’s nice that I definitely don’t worry about him giving me a hard time about it. I think part of my wanting to keep shaving is my general discontent with the state of my legs (they’re beaten to hell.. lots of scars from an old skin condition, varicose veins, one thicker than the other) that shaving them is the one thing that makes my legs feel pretty to me. However, I am losing the idea that I HAVE to keep them smooth and silky and if I don’t feel like doing it, I don’t have to do it.

  15. GinnyC
    August 22, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Shoshie, you really have me thinking about why I wax now :) I think part of it for me is that waxing and other beauty rituals relate to my identity as femme. But I’m not sure why the rituals should matter. I also think that gender identity is more about who you are than what you do. Both matter in my life, but to me at least, identity trumps performance.

    I do know, that I feel much less pressure to perform beauty rituals when I’m not around women, and especially other queer women, who dismiss femme identities. When I have to deal with people who act like gender identities are not real and who are hateful towards trans women and femme women I become much more focused on performing gender “correctly.”

    Now that I’m not as active in gay activist circles, I feel much freer to interpret gender as I want, while still identifying as femme. I wish I was more involved with activism, but it is harder for me to deal with bigotry coming from people who are supposed allies than from other groups. Back on topic, I still really like waxing, though. And I can’t really tell you why.

  16. Kristen J.
    August 22, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Eh…I shave sporatically. I like the feel of smooth, but I’m usually too lazy to care either way. But I don’t wear skirts. Ever. Except in bridal parties…but other than that it does not happen. So for the most part I don’t think people would notice one way or another.

  17. Kim_n21
    August 22, 2012 at 11:47 am

    As a fellow fat woman, I also struggle with the shaving thing. On one hand, I feel like if I don’t maintain the shaving, I’m playing into the stereotype that larger people don’t have good self-care/hygiene/what-have-you. Since I’m pretty lazy on other common personal grooming fronts (i.e., I don’t wear makeup that often, I don’t really style my hair beyond putting it up), I feel like that’s a line I don’t really want to cross. I have social anxiety issues that are exacerbated by feeling conspicuous and I’m conspicuous enough because of my size. On the other hand, I have insanely sensitive skin and shaving is an irritant and who decided women shouldn’t have hairy legs anyway?

    I do shave, mostly because it turned out that not shaving was a transgressive line I didn’t feel comfortable crossing completely. Particularly when it also happens that I like the way smooth skin feels on me. So, I maintain the shaving at a level that’s comfortable for my skin needs (once or twice a week in the summer, very rarely in the winter). Sometime down the road, I may change my mind and stop altogether (or well, stop most of the time. Like I said, I like the way it feels). But this works for right now, and lets me feel less conspicuous.

  18. GinnyC
    August 22, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Hi Donna L, thanks for sharing you experience! Sometimes it’s hard for cis people to remember that hair removal and other beauty rituals can be liberating.

  19. Shoshie
    August 22, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Donna- Thanks for the reminder. I thought about including a sentence or two about trans women in that last paragraph, regarding repercussions of not shaving, and took them out because I’m not familiar enough with how different trans women feel about hair removal.

    There’s not the same danger involved, but I really hear what you’re saying WRT beauty rituals as potentially liberating. Although there’s not the same outward danger as with being a trans woman, as a fat woman, looking feminine has been really important. Things like the adipositivity project (NSFW) and fatshion have been really important in my acceptance of my body, that I *can* be fat and feminine. I would love to get to a point where the definition of femininity is expanded to encompass all sorts of bodies, though, including hairy ones.

    Ultimately, as with all personal decisions like this, individual women need to decide what is best for their own health and safety.

  20. Shoshie
    August 22, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    Kim- Word.

  21. Faithless
    August 22, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    does stuff like this have to be all or nothing and go into a rage bucket of “never again”?

    I mean I work from home, so I rarely brush my hair or shave at all, unless I have to meet a client or travel for work or attend a wedding or something, then I “clean up” (read as shave, brush / condition my hair). I guess I could go outside and not do those things and still be technically considered “polite” but Is that really a thing? Do people seriously walk up to you and give you shit cus you didn’t shave today?

    I’m also sure there are a veritable horde of woman who have taken one look at me while at the grocery store getting food before going back to my cave during the day and thought “zomg he’s so scruffy and nasty, totally not going near that dude”. Does this mean that the same woman who aren’t into that are being mean and oppressive? I mean “its not my style” is different than “your not a woman” isn’t it? I don’t assume everybody who isn’t into facial hair is trying to send me the message that I’m somehow less manly for not dealing with it, nor would I assume that you are less of a woman for having hairy legs, even tho I don’t typically find it attractive.

    But “some dude finds it attractive” != status as a woman does it?!

    • August 22, 2012 at 12:11 pm

      Faithless, basically all of your comments over the past few weeks have amounted to, “But what about men?!?!” You’ve also repeatedly accused other posters of being “angry” (see “rage bucket” above) when they’ve indicated no such thing.

      Yes, there are different beauty standards for men and women. Yes, people do walk up to women and give them shit because they haven’t shaved. No, women avoiding you because you look scruffy and nasty are not being “mean and oppressive.”

      Either engage on the topic without derailing into this “reverse-sexist” BS or I’m going to ban you.

  22. Lyndsay
    August 22, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    If you can put up with the hair until it’s longer, it’s amazing how leg hair eventually feels natural and a smooth leg against pants feels very strange. I would consider shaving if I were wearing a skirt/dress to a special occasion but that almost never happens. I still consider smooth legs to be more feminine but I wear shorts every summer day and don’t feel like a very feminine woman anyway. Also, it’s fun to shock people sometimes.

    As far as armpits, I tried not shaving them once for months and thought maybe men should give shaving them a try! It definitely feels cleaner there when it’s hairless.

  23. Shoshie
    August 22, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Thanks, Jill.

  24. August 22, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    nor would I assume that you are less of a woman for having hairy legs, even tho I don’t typically find it attractive.

    Okay. But not everyone is like you.

  25. August 22, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    I’m dark skinned with dark hair, which is a blessing because it doesn’t show easily. The way I justify it is that I hold off shaving my legs for as long as possible (because I have bad eyesight, so often shower shaving means zebra-style legs or lots of cuts), and if anyone is staring at my legs so hard as to notice a little hair? Then we’ve got bigger problems.

  26. Karen
    August 22, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    I’m like you, sometimes I shave and sometimes (most of the time) I don’t. Sometimes I even forget and go to the pool with hairy legs but I really don’t care that much. I don’t see it as a “common decency” thing or a “politeness” thing and I find those remarks offensive, insulting, degrading to women and just plain silly.

  27. August 22, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    As far as armpits, I tried not shaving them once for months and thought maybe men should give shaving them a try! It definitely feels cleaner there when it’s hairless.

    I did a few times when I was younger, but I didn’t notice much difference, honestly. Maybe it’s like with the leg hair, where it gets past a certain length and it just feels sort of smooth and natural?

    I think it’s just a common decency thing, you know? sure it’s a bit unfair that guys dont have to do it, but I dont think its a huge afront on women’s rights. it’s just a politeness thing, like how guys have to shave their facial hair.

    In addition to noting that men don’t have to shave facial hair (certainly there’s some expectation of keeping it tidy, but that ranks more with getting a haircut than actual shaving for men who want to keep beards), I also think it’s worth noting that women shaving their body hair is actually a pretty new thing (relatively speaking). 100 years ago, it would have been uncommon for an American woman to shave anything. Women weren’t shaving their legs commonly until sometime around the 1940s.

    And, really… what makes hair indecent? Most people have it. Our culture has attitudes about it, but there’s nothing inherently indecent about it, I think.

  28. Donna L
    August 22, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    women shaving their body hair is actually a pretty new thing

    True enough, unless you go back to Ancient Greece and Rome.

  29. Faithless
    August 22, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Yes, people do walk up to women and give them shit because they haven’t shaved.

    That’s all I was asking, I didn’t know that was a thing, I thought women with shaved legs was like not wearing stockings or whatever. Some people wear them with shorts, some people wear them with skirts, some people don’t wear them at all, no skin off anybody else’s nose.

    … of course, now that I think about it, is that a thing too? women don’t get shit for not wearing stockings do they?

  30. Emolee
    August 22, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    Shoshie, great post. I relate to a lot of it.

    I usually don’t shave my legs- mostly because I have very sensitive skin that shaving hurts, but also because I can’t really think of a reason to other than societal expectations, which just doesn’t motivate me enough.

    That said, I will show my legs in public, but not in certain situations, such as at the law firm where I work. As a fellow fat woman, I do relate to the difficulty of being transgressive with my body in more than one way.

    You say:

    I really wanted this to be some story about how I made an enlightened decision that razors are tools of the patriarchy and cast them away in a fit of rebellion. But really it’s the story of claiming back a bit of time and money for myself.

    I think that a story about daring to claim back time and money for yourself, instead of feeling obligated to spend that time and money on ubiquitous, gender-specific beauty rituals that don’t empower or otherwise speak to you persoanlly IS a story about rebelling against the patriarchy!

  31. shfree
    August 22, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    I went for at least seventeen or eighteen years without shaving my pits or my legs in the Midwest. I started shaving my armpits again because of patriarchy, and because I didn’t like how they looked or felt anymore, and I shaved my legs below the knee because of patriarchy, but ALSO the legitimate reason that my skin was itchy as hell, and had been for years. And no amount of lotion was solving it. Once the hair was gone, my bloody scratches up and down the front of my calves were gone too. The fact that I also called them “hairsocks”, because the hair was dark only to my mid calves was also a reason.

    My daughter, however, hasn’t shaved yet. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, here. She starts high school at the beginning of September, and I hope she can continue to hold out.

  32. Lyndsay
    August 22, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    “Maybe it’s like with the leg hair, where it gets past a certain length and it just feels sort of smooth and natural? ”

    I didn’t have have a problem with the feeling of the hair itself–just the fact that I felt like showering every hour. However, this also depends on the time of year. Winter wasn’t so bad.

  33. August 22, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    I’m also an irregular shaver in the summer and I never shave in the winter. I also only shave from my knees to ankles. Y’all just have to deal with seeing the hair on my thighs.

    Here is a tip: buy some electric clippers. You can clip the long winter’s growth of hair on the legs to get ready for shaving, or just clip it short from time to time if you don’t feel like shaving. I almost never take a razor to my underarms, but I use the clippers during the summer since it makes it easier to apply deodorant. People rarely notice or at least aren’t rude enough to remark on the very short underarm hair I’m usually sporting and I wear tank tops all the time.

  34. matlun
    August 22, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    I think it’s just a common decency thing, you know? sure it’s a bit unfair that guys dont have to do it, but I dont think its a huge afront on women’s rights. it’s just a politeness thing, like how guys have to shave their facial hair.

    As a man who definitely prefers the shaved look, I still do not agree. I consider it similar to someone wearing a shirt that I think is ugly. A very marginal issue, and in the end just a matter of subjective taste.

  35. LR of The {No Longer) Frozen Midwest
    August 22, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    In the past, I’d often not shaved my legs – especially in winter – but in the past fifteen years or so, my legs have developed “pattern baldness” along the sides and shins, so letting leg hair grow out is no longer really an option. In summertime shorts, smooth shins paired with hairy calves can be a bit disconcerting to some onlookers. ;)

    Incidentally, I’ve learned that bald areas on the legs/shins after age 35 or so (in both men and women) isn’t all that uncommon, and I’d heard from family members that my grandmother had the same leg hair situation.

  36. monkeypedia
    August 22, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    My rule for various patriarchy encouraged/enforced beauty rituals has been basically that I will only do things that take very little/no extra time and are essentially painless. I can handle femming my clothes up a bit on occasion, because I have to get dressed in the morning anyway, but I never wear heels, I never wear makeup (yes, that includes weddings and other fancy events, including my own wedding – I never actually learned how to put on makeup in the first place, so those always seem like poor times to practice). So when it comes to shaving, I sporadically shave my armpits because the hair there is more noticeable and the area is quick to shave and not painful to shave (I don’t nick my armpits), especially for job interviews etc., but I haven’t shaved my legs since I was 15, and it really doesn’t even occur to me as a thing to do anymore. My area of shaving conflict is really my bikini line. I’ve varied between not shaving anything and just wearing boy shorts to the beach, to slightly violating my rules in order to wear a bikini (in grown hairs definitely violate my painless rule).

    HOWEVER, I’ve had/have a lot of privilege in this area – my hair on my legs is relatively sparse and fine, so you need to stare at it to notice it. Especially when I was younger, I conformed to cis-heterosexual-thin-white-seemingly-able-bodied beauty ideals relatively well, which allowed me to “get away” with not shaving, wearing makeup, getting fancy haircuts, getting my nails done etc., even at a corporate job, while having people read me as something like “no-nonsense but presentable”. I have no illusions that were some of those things different, I would have read to many people as unkempt or dirty. In fact, now that I am somewhat older, and especially since I recently had a baby, altering my body from societal ideals, I’ve been struggling with how much pressure I suddenly feel to do things I haven’t thought about in years and years. I’ve been resisting the urge to learn how to use makeup at age 32, considering getting my nails done, contemplating more fashionable clothing, and caved in to getting real haircuts. These are not things I want to do to please myself, even if they sometimes do please me by making me look more “attractive” (read, attractive by the patriarchy’s standards), they’re things I want to do to win back some of the patriarchy’s approval, and it sucks.

  37. August 22, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    I have wide eyebrows. I’ve corrected their shape for 5 years or more. Everytime I cried from pain. This year I have let my “monobrow” grow back. My husband supports me there. But my friends still tell me sometimes that I should tend to my brows.

    Maybe someday I will stop shaving my legs.

  38. August 22, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    I don’t shave anything*. The most I do is trim the bush a bit, because I find it incredibly annoying otherwise. Everything else, fuck it. I wear long skirts when I have to not wear pants (mostly because it’s summer). On interviews, I wear slacks, or actually go buy pantyhose if I am in fact desperate.

    What bothers me is, I do enjoy the feeling of smooth legs and pits. I originally stopped shaving because it actively hurt me to shave — the first time after a while would be fine, but subsequent times would suck so hard, and hurt, and oh look a rash, and ingrown hairs, and and and argh.

    Nowadays, I don’t shave partly because of those skin reasons, but mostly because fuck it. I barely eat food because eating is boring to me, and that keeps me alive, for heaven’s sake. Why would I spend any time or money shaving? To fit in? I have an anxiety disorder and I still don’t bother.

    (* With one exception that I have no intention of mentioning out loud to others.)

  39. Lolagirl
    August 22, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    HOWEVER, I’ve had/have a lot of privilege in this area – my hair on my legs is relatively sparse and fine, so you need to stare at it to notice it.

    If this were my situation I probaby wouldn’t shave my legs ever. But I’m a rather hirsute girl from the hips down, if I don’t shave it itches terribly, and the longer I go between shaving the itchiness only gets worse. The patriarchy can suck it as far as I’m concerned, but you’ll have to pry my Venus razor from my cold, dead hands.

  40. August 22, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    For what it’s worth, I’m white, and I have dark, thick hair. I basically look like I’m part bear on my father’s side (which, with my dad being 6’2″, isn’t entirely wrong).

  41. roro80
    August 22, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Great post! I fall into a similar category as the OP — theoretically I do shave, just not that often, and then not too carefully. I’m pretty lucky in that I have very fine, blonde leg hair that doesn’t really show unless I’m in the sun. If I’m going to an outdoor summer event in a skirt, or if I’m going on a vacation that will require a bathing suit, I’ll shave. Other than that, I’ll give it a go once every few months — I actually love the feeling of getting into bed after shaving for the first time in a while. It also makes me giggle how wearing shorts on a warm breezy day will blow my hairs around and tickle!

  42. jillian
    August 22, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Havent shaved or bleached leg hair in about 10 years. i live in texas where you swim from may to september and shorts weather is from march to halloween. ive had two young girls ask me about it cause theyre little and say what the think.

    husband doesnt care and actually prefers armpit hair (that i think i stopped shaving 12 years ago.)

    professionally i wear pants and long skirts and try not to wear shirts that would show off the fuzz too much, but other than that, i hardly think of it.

  43. karak86
    August 22, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    I am really…weird about shaved legs.

    I talk a good talk, but the truth is I am super, painfully conforming to conventional beauty standards. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the end result is I will not expose my armpits or legs unless they are freshly shaved.

    My boyfriend is someone who has stated he doesn’t personally care what I do when it comes to my makeup or body hair, he has mild preferences about my clothes, but only when explicitly asked.

    I have a girlfriend who doesn’t prioritize shaving her legs at all, and when we go out I go on this rollercoaster of inner workings. “Good for her for not caring, but this really isn’t socially appropriate, is she aware of that or not making a conscious decision, I envy her for not taking the time I am a little bit disgusted by her laziness I don’t know why she invests in new dresses if she isn’t going to go the full mile to get dressed up why am I being such a judgmental creeper…” and on and on.

    As a side note, I don’t believe you should


    to shave anything, but I do believe it’s reasonable to ask your sexual partner if they would


    trimming, not shaving, their pubic hairs–that more a matter of convenience than “standards”, for me.

  44. karak86
    August 22, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Wow, apparently I did blockquote instead of italics. Go, me.

  45. August 22, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    I stopped shaving my legs altogether in grad school. I figured if they guys got to have “exam beards”, I got to have exam legs. And then I just never got around to it again. It’s cold pant-weather here for so much of the year no one noticed, and then this summer for the first time I was able to wear skirts and short leggings without feeling pangs of guilt or anxiety about it. I also don’t shave my armpits and find that as long as I’m washing regularly they aren’t any smellier. I did recently shave them again because of a client meeting I wanted to wear a particular shirt for, however, because I’m aware that some people find armpit hair “unhygienic” looking (I used to be one of them).

    That being said I’m also a white cis woman with relatively light hair working in the otherwise sartorially- and style-challenged halls of academe who doesn’t date much and doesn’t get much extra flak about my femininity – there are some positions where being a hairy non-conformist would probably have serious job/relationship consequences. So I’m privileged in that respect.

    What amuses me is that the only hair on my body I actually don’t just let grow wild is the hair on my scalp – I shave it to the nubbins. :D Too much bother.

    I’d love a long luxuriant beard, though. My chin hairs are scraggly and disappointing.

  46. Emily
    August 22, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Oh gods, yes. All of this. This is exactly it. It takes like half an hour to shave my legs well. No thanks, I’d rather be doing almost ANYTHING else. I am not making a statement; I’m prioritizing.

    Armpits take like two seconds to shave, and I haven’t cut myself there in ages, so whatever. I smooth those puppies out at least weekly, and more like every 3-4 days.

    A couple days ago a guy hit on me in a Chinese restaurant, then went back to dorking around on his phone. After maybe thirty seconds he noticed my unshaven legs (probably been about 5 weeks now), laughed, & told me “I take it back”.

    Yup. Happened. Takesie backsies happened.

    My friends are largely fine with it and see it as just another quirk of mine. That doesn’t mean they won’t hair-shame in front of me. Some people seem actually offended by it (I’ve literally been told by otherwise very nice people that they could not, would not, it-would-be-a-deal-breaker) but eh, fuck ’em.

  47. Spike
    August 22, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    I haven’t shaved my armpits for about 10 years since my late teens, because I was getting huge abscesses from ingrown hairs and my doctor was basically like, “if you want this to stop you have to stop shaving.” I didn’t have the patience to be Nairing or waxing my pits so I just stopped shaving (though I do trim them). I am used to it, though I do get bouts of self-consciousness because I’m sure some people see it as “OMG she forgot to shave her pits, gross!!” I’d rather if they were like “she’s making a statement, gross” for some reason. I’ve had people comment on it over the years, as in “why do you shave your legs but not your underarms.” I guess it’s just easier to hide hairy armpits. I remember the day in gym class (probably grade 6) when some girl pointed out my downy legs, laughed and was like “why are your legs so hairy?” I’d never thought of it as being gross before and that was when I started shaving. I feel sexier with shaved legs but it sure is a time/money suck.

  48. shfree
    August 22, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    My favorite story from when I didn’t shave was when some dude asked me out, who I might have considered if I hadn’t already been hit on constantly. (I was new to this LARP in Chicago and thus “fresh meat”, once they figured out that the posse of boys I came with didn’t include anyone I was romantically entangled with.) Summertime rolls around, and when I’m in my sleeveless dresses for my character, dude tells me that he wished I would shave, because “girls should do that.” At which point I told him that if he was going to get all gendered bullshit with me, he should stop wearing his swirly goth eyeliner, because “boys shouldn’t be doing that.” It shut him up.

  49. tenya
    August 22, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    I am in much the same boat as the OP, I periodically shave because I have anxiety about not shaving, hate to think I’m going to be profiled on “people of Wal-Mart” or whatever similar kind of body snarking places, or just in my circles like work or classes hearing the “omigod, such and so’s hairy legs/pits! so gross!” comments and really not wanting them to be about me. I feel like I should have enough self-esteem/will power/confidence to say “well even if they say that, so what? fuck ’em!” but I don’t. And that in turn makes me feel even more guilty – how is say, my little sister (literally and metaphorically) ever going to feel not-shaving is a valid choice if I’m too worried about what other people might think to go unshaven?

  50. August 22, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    So, wholly apart from any practical risks that might result from any decision on my part not to shave my legs now, I would never, ever want to stop doing so, even if it became entirely acceptable for women in general. It would be a nightmarish reminder of the past.


    What about the laser hair removal? I was just talking to a friend today who loves it.

  51. Antonia
    August 22, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    I just wanted to offer a word of encouragement and say that it really does get easier to feel comfortable without shaving as time goes on. Not only does the hair get softer (even my thick, dark hair), but it gets easier to not think about other people’s reactions to your grooming habits. Of course, this being the patriarchy, there will be the occasional comment. I’ve found that those comments seem more ridiculous than harmful as time goes on, though.

    Also: I cannot contest those of you who say your armpits “feel” cleaner after shaving, but I’ve yet to find someone with any kind of scientific evidence that shaving is more hygienic than not shaving. The hair is probably there to wick moisture away from your body.

    Finally, let’s not call people’s grooming habits gross. If they’re unhygienic, that’s one thing. But “gross” is almost always used in a way that goes far beyond any sort of hygiene. This includes deodorant in underarm hair.

  52. Computer Soldier Porygon
    August 22, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    I finally gave up shaving when I moved to Seattle, but I still shave everything when I’m visiting family in Texas. Partially because it’s a lot harder to be carefree and hairy in a town where you’ll actually get comments and looks from the people around – and partially because my mom thinks not shaving is a sign that I’m severely depressed again and have given up ‘taking care’ of myself. I try to explain that I like the way I look and DO put effort into taking care of myself/my appearance but she isn’t having any of it :P

  53. Janeen
    August 22, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    I thought I’d chime in here, not because my experience is particularly unique, but because I think it’s clear from the above comments and from my experience in general that every woman has her reasons for making the choice to shave or not to shave. Thought I’d share mine.

    Personally, I haven’t shaved my legs in over a year and was a sporadic shaver before that. There was a time or two in college that I was a more regular shaver, but I was also experimenting with hyper femininity at that time. I still have a pretty feminine streak, and love to wear skirts and the occasional bit of mascara and lip gloss.

    As far as people caring or commenting on my leg hair, I work at a pool teaching swim lessons and no one has ever commented on my leg hair there. I have fine, light-colored hair, so it’s likely that most people just don’t notice. People do comment on it when I’m out in the sun, it’s super shiny, but never in a negative way.

    It started in high school. We wouldn’t shave our legs for months for swim team. Not until conference or regional meets. I got used to having hairy legs and wearing a swimsuit. Plus my legs are so much softer with the hair!

    My armpits have gotten more comments at the pool, but only from kids. And they are always happy to except my answer which is, “One day you’ll have hair there too!” I did shave my armpits fairly recently, but I missed my hair so much I’m not sure I would ever do it again.

    I feel roughly the same way about my leg hair. I was a little worried about a recent trip to the beach with my mom, but she didn’t say a thing. That from the same women who told me that if I didn’t wear make-up I would never find a husband!

    I realize for some women shaving is an important part of their identity as a woman, but for me, it’s not. But, whatever works for you (or me, or her) right?

  54. Donna L
    August 22, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    Thanks, Steve, but that can be really expensive for large areas. In any event, as I mentioned, I have so little hair growing on my legs and under my arms at this point, and it grows so slowly, that I don’t mind shaving it, and laser treatments wouldn’t be worthwhile even if I could afford them. Certain other areas, maybe, but laser treatments wouldn’t be feasible or effective there for other reasons.

  55. SherryH
    August 22, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    I shave my legs, ankle to knee, roughly once a week. In the summer. Come winter, forget about it!

    I went through a period where I was around a bunch of women who didn’t shave, and I decided I should stop, too. No. My legs are very light, and my leg hair is thick and very dark. I may have looked furrier than my then-husband. Eventually, I concluded that NOT shaving my legs because of what someone else did made no more sense that shaving my legs because of what someone expected, and I would do what pleased ME.

    I don’t shave my pits, and I don’t use deodorant. To me, my underarms are less smelly than when I did shave and use a roll-on. I usually wear shirts with at least short sleeves, but I have gone out in sleeveless tops and don’t let it bother me. If I worked in an office, I’d probably either go back to shaving or else be more careful about wearing sleeves.

  56. Tracey
    August 22, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    I don’t shave legs or armpits, I use to but not anymore. I do however tend to shave my arms pretty regularly. I like the feel of my arms smooth. However, I also wear knee highs at work when I wear an above the calf skirt or dress, and if there is an important meeting I will wear thicker knee highs, pants, or a long skirt.

  57. Tracey
    August 22, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Also, I don’t wear anything like a tank top or very short sleeved shirt to work. Those are risks I just won’t take.

  58. Chataya
    August 22, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    Currently rocking 4-5 months growth in my shorts. It’s hot as fuck here, and shorts weather can last from March to October. I wear long pants to work, but I’ll wear shorts and skirts outside of work.

    I’d like to say that I don’t shave my legs, wear make-up, fix my nails, or style my hair beyond combing it as a “fuck you” to the patriarchy, but really I’m just lazy.

  59. katie
    August 22, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    I didn’t shave until my mid-20s, and have recently stopped. Along with letting the gray hair show and not minding the few extra pounds. My mother-in-law is concerned that I have “let myself go” and what a wonderful phrase that is! Yes! I have let myself go!
    She is in her 80s and still worries about her weight, still colors her hair and doesn’t come out of her bedroom without her make up on. I wish she would let herself go a bit!

  60. MinervaB
    August 22, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    I’m also fat and I haven’t shaved my legs in a year or so. My husband is the only other person who ever sees them that way, though. I’m still working on FA. I can’t quite bring myself to expose my dark hair on super white legs in public while also trying not to let the asshats who comment on my groceries get to me. So for now, I keep my furry legs under jeans or tights at all times and it’s my subversive little secret. I do shave my armpits, but that’s mostly because it takes 30 seconds, I never cut myself there, and the growing in itch is so much worse than it was for my legs. Maybe some day.

  61. Cranes
    August 22, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    The whole idea that there’s two options here-either you shave or you Don’t Shave is pretty weird. Can’t you be the sort of woman who doesn’t shave sometimes because f-the patriarchy because she’s in a f-the patriarchy mood just then? But another time she’s in a more gosh I’m too lazy to shave my legs mood? And then on other days she weighs in her head that on the one hand shaved legs are a contrived and unfair beauty standard but on the other hand she actually feels prettier when she shaves them and so that time she opts for the ego stroke of conforming to established trends? And this is all the same woman in the same time period of her life?

  62. FYouMudFlaps
    August 23, 2012 at 5:39 am

    You have this male’s support certainly. The closest thing I can use to relate is nail growth; I tried growing my nails a few months ago, and did not get harassed per se, but scads of random comments and inquiries. Mind you, my nails are smooth, white, and clean so they didn’t look like a monster or something. Enforced gender roles have to go, and I seek to do my small part to see that happen.

  63. Tahnee
    August 23, 2012 at 6:02 am

    I’ve shaved since I was 13, and started waxing a couple of years ago. This winter (in Australia), I last waxed at the start of May and haven’t since. It’s the longest I’ve gone with my leg and pit hair in over 10 years.

    I’m actually really proud of my pit hair. My partner doesn’t mind at all.
    I haven’t felt toooo self-concious yet, and it’s getting easier not to. We’ll see how I go in summer, but I think I’d like to keep it.

    The hardest part is that I work in an office and am a bit unsure how to negotiate that. I actually went out and bought a couple of new tops that cover it a bit more. My work dress code doesn’t specifically mention pit hair, though women are allowed to wear sleeveless tops and men aren’t – I wonder if this is implicitly saying not to expose your hairy pits?

  64. Jayne Cullen
    August 23, 2012 at 7:34 am

    For years now, younger women have not only been shaving their legs, but their arms. I first noticed this on line in a supermarket, when I saw that the teen in front of me had razor burn/bumps on her forearms.

    Somehow, tats are OK, but natural hair is not. And, obviously, natural arms and legs are just a peripheral focus.

    When you’re young, looks über alles, and what looks better than a plastic, porn-ish pudendum?

    I chalk this all up to the rise and acceptance of porn, which specializes in shaming and infantilizing women’s natural sexuality.

    All a damn shame, if you ask me.

  65. August 23, 2012 at 7:50 am

    I think I am unusual in my hair habits. I do genital waxing but leave my legs hairy. I don’t usually get called out on that because most people don’t see the former :P but I suspect most people would be puzzled. I think I tried shaving my legs for a few months in high school, and had one memorable go at those awful wax strips, and then decided the whole thing wasn’t worth it. When I became sexually active, though, my boyfriend suggested that oral sex would be less hassle with less hair involved, and offered to “manscape” if I waxed, so I had a go (at a proper salon) and found that I rather liked the way it looked. It was much less painful than e.g. my recent tattoo, didn’t take up a lot of time – the only downside was the ingrown hairs. I think it’s a reasonable request between long-term sex partners.

    But, y’know… still can’t be bothered with the legs! After all, nobody wants to spend twenty minutes rubbing their face against my knees.

  66. Miss S
    August 23, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Shoshie- great post! My experience with body hair: I’m pretty hairy. I don’t know if it’s because of our mixed ancestry, or just a family thing, but some of the women in my family are. I don’t think it’s a hormonal thing or PCOS, because none of us have been diagnosed with anything, ever. We’re just hairy women.

    I have a tan golden complexion and dark hair so it shows. I have hair on my arms in a way that most women don’t, and I’ve had other girls notice and tell me to shave them. On the other hand, I’ve had men tell me they find it sexy (really?). I don’t want either type of feedback- just leave my hair alone! I shaved them once, felt weird, and never did it again.

    On the other hand, I shave (hope this isn’t TMI!) my pubic hair consistently and not for any male gaze, as I’ve been celibate for some time. It’s itchy to me. That’s also how I feel about leg hair, especially because I have KP on my legs. Shaving works to exfoliate, and then I douse my legs in Amlactin and shea butter to ease the itching, particularly in the winter. So shaving some things is a comfort for me, other things I deem unnecessary and leave alone.

    The part about being fat, and feeling like you can’t have two strikes against you? I can so relate. I can think of times where I did certain things to ‘balance’ my appearance like it was a math equation.

  67. Angie unduplicated
    August 23, 2012 at 11:14 am

    I love the feeling of smooth legs. I also get hideously razor burned. During my marriage, I stopped shaving my legs. My family was nasty, my husband tolerant.
    After divorce, I did all of the performative rituals. I purchased a home laser, found out that it was time-consuming and didn’t work that well, persevered and burned spots on my corneas from getting close enough to satisfy my myopia plus bifocals.
    Currently, I do not shave pits or pubes. Showers and occasional deodorant keep things smelling nice. Legs get it once a week or so, if it’s a cool day and/or I’m not going out in the intense heat. The esthetic advantages of the shaven leg disappear entirely when the leg swells, turns red and bumpy, and itches like poison ivy.

  68. jen
    August 23, 2012 at 11:37 am

    I started shaving in maybe jr. high, not sure, but stopped when I started high school. At the time it was a very political decision, I guess, but I haven’t been in shorts or a tank top in years (cold legs, as much as anything), so I suppose it isn’t anymore. Oh, and I have crazy thick, pretty dark hair, luck of the Irish or something.

    It was actually fairly handy in hs and college, since it kept the assholes at bay, and I think kinda attracted the guy I met as a one night stand and ended up marrying, let’s hear it for punk politics or something. Ah, the 90s.

    I’m honestly fairly indifferent to my leg hair at this point (wacky combo of shaky hands and laziness), but I love my pit hair. Never noticed it smelling anymore than the rest of me (but I don’t sweat much anymore), and I don’t think anything ever itched much, although 20 years is a long time to remember such a sensation.

    And wow, there’s no real reason for this giant comment, just kinda wanted to share. Honestly, though, it’s your own damn body and best to be comfortable in it. You couldn’t pay me to shave anything at this point, but I’m just happy being who I am most of the time, hairy old me. Good luck to everyone else.

  69. August 23, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    I love this post! It sounds like me. Shaving is a pain (figuratively and literally sometimes) and takes precious time. I’ve got a girl who just started kindergarten, I work full-time, run my own website, give presentations, write, etc. I don’t have time to worry about unshaven legs! I shave when I feel like it–usually if my legs get itchy. And don’t get me started on hair on other parts of the body. There is some shaving I will NEVER understand. Yikes.

  70. tmc
    August 23, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    I shaved my arms and legs for my first triathlon last weekend. First time I’d shaved anything other than armpits (which I only shave like twice a year for “special occasions”) in maybe 5 or 6 years. I came out of it looking like I’d attempted a bloodletting on myself. It was SO not worth it.

    And now back to never shaving again, ever (except for the rare pit shave).

  71. August 23, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    I’m looking forward to the day when no one has to talk about body hair and everyone, of all genders, can do whatever they please with it, including braiding if so desired (that would be pretty cool, if there was a way to do this).

    I shave my armpits all year because, probably due to acculturation, I don’t feel comfortable sweating, and hair catches more sweat in armpits.

    The reason I shave my legs is different: I like men to be very hairy, and I like the contrast between me hairless and men with hair all over. I guess it’s more culturo-sexual. All in all, however, I know this can be interpreted as gender-based, despite the fact that abundant body hair, at least, is a common if most certainly not universal secondary sexual characteristic (that is to say that not all sexually mature men have body hair, but all men with body hair are sexually mature).

  72. SydneyKait
    August 24, 2012 at 2:49 am

    I use to never shave my legs and armpits. I had a problem with cutting and scarred up my thighs pretty bad. The whole hairy scar combo didn’t look right to me. So I shave now. Kinda weird reasoning but yeah. I think its because I feel like I have to “make up” for my scars. To appear half way “normal”

  73. Jade
    August 24, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    So, my hubby isn’t the only one who doesn’t give a hoot about leg hair? Right on! I pretty much only shave my under arms and only because they feel itchy and generally unpleasant if I go more than a few days without shaving them. I shave my legs once in a blue moon if I just want the smooth feel of them. I live a ferry ride from Seattle, so pretty similar weather here (What was up with those two crazy heat waves this month!?). I very very rarely ever wear dresses or skirts, so I just don’t really have a good reason to shave.

    As far as men’s facial hair goes, my hubby only shaves because his job requires it. When he’s off for the weekend or vacation time, we see how long it can grow before he has to shave it off again for work. lol

  74. Monica
    August 24, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    I hear where you’re coming from but I have to say I feel almost exactly the opposit. In order to challenge the patriarchy I think everyone should just be as hairless as possible, men and women. At least on legs, arm pits, and the sexy areas because it tends to just be easier and more comfortable. So yea I defintely don’t think the answer is for everyone to just be super hairy all the time, even though obviously I think it should be treated as totally fine and normal if a person does choose not to remove their hair.
    I was actually thinking about this earlier today while looking at a hair donation website for an org that makes wigs for kids and adults with alopecia, and I felt sort of conflicted because part of me was like oh that’s so nice but another part of me was like god it’s so sad that our culture has to shame these people into wearing wigs in order to feel accepted. When will hair stop being such a thing?!

  75. Aya
    August 25, 2012 at 2:18 am

    Shaving just stopped making sense to me. I modify my body in all kinds of ways and I really don’t care what people think of it. I hold off from things that would make it hard to find a job, but only because I’m unemployed. Even those things will happen eventually… regardless of what people think. So why am I modifying my body in a way that I don’t actually like in order to fit in with how people think I should look? It just didn’t make sense.

  76. Iany
    August 25, 2012 at 10:15 am

    I prefer to wax my legs because I like the feeling of waxed legs, and to conform to social expectations at least to an extent (my feelings might be a little like yours were, Shoshie, as in, being fat and hairy is not acceptable socially). Still, my decision to remove hair wouldn’t be influenced by a spouse and I tend to wax more regularly in summer (feels cooler) than in winter (feels warmer, I think). I don’t hold any negative feelings about women who elect not to shave or wax though, I think if it makes you happy, then it’s good for you.
    I’m actually pretty interested in the ways people use their facial hair to make a statement, either by removing part of their brows or shaving patterns into the hair around their lips and chin (something some women can do too). If you get creative, it’s cool just how much you can do with the hair you have.
    I’ve often wondered what response I’d get if I only waxed the one leg.

  77. Jules
    August 26, 2012 at 1:08 am

    How is every season skirt season in SEATTLE! Only with tights in the winter, it never reaches above 40 degrees! So I live in Seattle too, I don’t shave my legs or pits much in winter. But I hope you mean it’s skirts (with tights) season because your booty would freeeze!

  78. August 26, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Jules- I’m from Chicago, originally. 40 degrees is nothing! But I do love me some knee-high socks.

  79. Beth
    August 27, 2012 at 2:06 am

    At best, I’m a lazy hair remover. I use an epilator for legs and armpits alike because the relatively long-lasting result relieves me of removing hair more often than about once a week, if even that often. I like to be clean-shaven but am so busy that it just can’t be a priority. My ex-boyfriend was just fine with it, though he did find it to be a nice bonus if I epilated after a long time without doing so–I guess the hairlessness was a novelty for him. What really gets my goat about this norm is the perception that not removing hair equates to poor hygiene. If so, then all of the men of the world need to step up and remove the same hair that women are expected to shave off! An important male in my life (not the aforementioned ex, someone more uptight) once made a snide comment to me about my lacking time to shave very often and how unhygienic it was. I was too young and slow-witted to fire off a response on the spot, but as soon as I get the chance, I can’t wait to point to his considerably hairy legs and tell him that he needs to do the same to consider himself clean!

  80. August 27, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Love this post! I experimented with going a full year without shaving or waxing a thing, and here’s my post about it:

  81. L
    August 29, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    the more you shave them the darker and more wirey and closer to an ape’s hair it becomes so if you really want some head hair coloured leg hair I’d suggest you quit asap plus we are saying its OK to be patriarchal over us and its OK to consider us SEX OBJECTS when they(men) can get as fat and lazy as anyone else and get away with it and find someone nice.. why should we live double standards? we are the same species! hear us Roar.

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