Well, I am right now, anyway. It’s temporary.
I’m headed to India as something of a representative of my mother; the invitation was initially for her and my dad, since they actually know Abhishek. But mum didn’t feel quite up to the trip– I have to admit, that 24-hour flight is looking pretty intimidating to me, too– and I’m going in her place. And as much as I love my mum, I don’t think she’ll ever stop quietly disapproving of my hairy legs. I’m heading off to meet a whole lot of strangers and as a representative of my culture, my family, and especially my mother, I thought it would be a nice gesture to shave.
Oh man am I ever regretting it now!
Okay, first, there are a few key reasons I object to shaving: 1. It’s a stupid beauty norm. 2. It’s a waste of time. 3. It’s really, really uncomfortable.
First: stupid beauty norm. I never really understood this one. Mammals have body hair. This is kind of the definition of being a mammal. I guess it’s like pretending women don’t poop. It’s obviously nonsensical, but being ladylike means pretending that we aren’t human and are instead made of, I don’t know, moonlight. Even when you’re being put on a pedestal, it’s still objectifying, and it’s still no good. So screw you, beauty industry. I’m not buying it.
Second: it takes a lot of time. I lost an hour of my life today shaving, and that’s an hour I will never get back. Sure, it takes less time if you don’t wait a year in between shaves, but all those short sessions surely add up. And, like men, I have better things to do with my time.
I think this may actually be tied to the idea of beauty standards from item one. Being beautiful is supposed to take a lot of time and effort, probably because it will keep women too busy to get the goddamn ERA passed. Every time women get the hang of everything and start getting stuff done, the beauty industry comes up with more flaws that have to be addressed before we can leave the house. Whereas men are just getting introduced to the idea of body wash. The time discrepancy is surely intentional, and I refuse to play along.
Third: this is the real reason I regret shaving. It hurts! Apparently it doesn’t hurt for most women, but damn does it ever hurt for me. Not the shaving itself, really, but the way my poor skin reacts to its nakedness. When I shaved all the time, my legs never ever stopped being uncomfortable. And they didn’t even look good to make up for it. The first day after shaving, they’re red and dry and I have to moisturize them every few hours just to bear it. The second day after shaving, the hairs start trying to grow back and my legs are polka-dotted with little black hairs that itch inside my skin. The third day, I’ve got proper stubble, so the itching’s on the outside. The fourth day, the itching starts to subside, but also I have decidedly visible hair, so usually on the night of the fourth day I have to shave again.
In the winter, my skin gets even drier, so I just can’t shave at all. Honestly, I struggle with itchiness in the winter even when I don’t shave. Even my mum doesn’t shave in the winter, though, because why would you? That’s what pants and leggings are for.
I stopped shaving by simply never starting again one spring. Can’t remember when. May have been after I started dating my unshaven girlfriend in high school. I seem to recall that she preferred leg hair to bare legs. I never wore anything but pants in high school, so it would have been optimal for stealth leg hair.
I’ve shaved since then a few times for important events, like now, but mostly I just wear opaque stockings or long pants. I kind of like having my hair visible, because I’m proud of it, and I want to challenge people’s assumptions, but I don’t mind staying covered for my mum’s sake. I’m proud of having stopped because it’s giving the finger to the patriarchy, but I really stopped because it was a lot of bother and the patriarchy wasn’t sufficient motivation. So although it’s annoying to play along for my mum’s sake, it’s not really compromising my principles. I know it matters to her, especially in this instance, and although the patriarchy on its own isn’t worth the bother, my mum is.