Actually, I’m a clean-shaven lesbian.

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.


7 Responses to Actually, I’m a clean-shaven lesbian.

  1. dollyann says:

    I absolutely hate shaving and I think it is a complete waste of time. Like most girls though, I got wrapped into doing it at a young age and since then the hair has gotten so coarse that I actually don’t like the feel of my legs brushing together unless they are shaved. Still, usually I’m so lazy I just don’t give a damn. Winter’s great because I don’t have to be worried about short- or summer dress-exposure.

    I’ll be honest though… I don’t care much for guys with facial hair, so I do have this unfair expectation that any potential boyfriend I have be smooth. Sideburns I can tolerate, but not much else. Then again, I don’t get the deal with ANYONE shaving their pubes. I seriously just don’t get it. TALK ABOUT ITCHY!

  2. Becca says:

    word word word.

  3. dykie says:

    well!my hair leg aren’t really visible so I don’t need to shave them! Lucky me I suppose!

    Anyway, I’m all for the “stupid beauty norm”, the beauty is inside, outside is just temporaly!

  4. eloriane says:

    But if it’s the inner beauty that counts, why spend all that time and money shaving?

    For me, it really came down to the fact that I have a lot of things I’d rather be doing with my time than shaving and tweezing and painting my face every day. And a lot of things I’d rather do with my money than buying make-up and gadgets and all the accessories of a beauty routine.

    And yeah, it’s just temporary…but that only means that you have to do the whole thing again in a few days.

  5. Alexbutt says:

    You shoulda just waxed! It lasts longer (you wouldn’t have to worry about it in India), grows back calmer, and if for some bizarre reason you decide to care about having less hair on your legs, the hair that grows back does so in waves, so you have less hair at any given time if you vaguely keep up with waxing.

    At least that’s how it works for my lady bits.

    I really have a lot to say about my personal choices in female body hair, actually… Thanks for pushing me onto that soapbox, mom!

  6. Leg hair removal is one of the banes of my existence. I’ve tried waxing, sugar-waxing, depilatories of every description and every weird device and treatment sold on TV, and here’s my problem:

    Nothing actually removes all the hair all the way. Shaving leaves an IMMEDIATE 5 o’clock shadow. Waxing gives me ingrown hairs, fails to pull out lots of my hairs, and within a day I have black stubble, which I then have to wait a couple of weeks until it’s long enough to be waxed again.

    Apparently, this is a unique problem, since women usually scoff at me and assume I’m just too stupid to do it properly when I share this. Nope: I have curly, coarse, stubborn hair that grows fast. And I have far more hair than most women because I have PCOS (got my beard lasered off a few years ago, and it was life altering. I used to spend 5-15 minutes plucking black facial hairs out every single day, AND the little bastards really broke my skin out growing in).

    But not shaving is now just as uncomfortable as shaving, because long curly, semi-coiled hairs rubbing under pants or between naked thighs is blister-causing. I’ve never stopped shaving for more than 6 months, so I don’t know if there’s any way it could get more comfortable over time. The only solution is laser hair removal, and that’ll cost about $6k, which means it has to be prioritized behind a lot of more important things I need to be doing with my money.

    It’s all just like some kind of punishment, as far as I’m concerned. But because it’s “not that big a deal” for most women I talk to, I can’t seem to raise any support on this issue. Feminists as well as non-feminists make me feel like a freak for complaining about it.

  7. Cassie says:

    I think it’s completly ridiculous that women and young ladies think they have to be hairless and in every way possible flawless to be considered acceptable in society or worse by their husbands or boyfriends.. God makes us the way we are for a reason.. I am what i am.. People laugh at me because i am different but i laugh because they are all the same! If some one truly loves you the hair will not matter.. Those that mind dont matter and those that matter dont mind!

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