Summer is in full swing! In between hula parties by the pool and beach picnics, there is a hidden problem we all need to acknowledge. Half of the population's hairless bare legs.
American culture dictates that women should be hairless, except for on their head of course which should be long and feminine. If you watch this commercial for Schick and Skintimate shaving products for women, you'll watch a group of hairless women sing and berate others for being too hairy even as they are completely hairless. They then shave their already hairless legs. I always thought it was silly that we were watching a commercial for a product that we couldn't tell if it would work.
However, Brasilian culture pressures women to be hairless even more so than the American one. Just watch the carnival for a few hours and you'll see what I mean. I remember shaving and waxing my legs in middle school.
Before however, my leg hair was practically invisible. Being a blonde, my hair was impossible to see with the naked eye then I shaved for the first time and now my hair is dark and unruly.
It took me roughly six years before I finally had enough and I haven't shaved or waxed since. Every once and a while I'll be caught at a weak moment and be convinced to wax again. There is a myth that if one waxes enough times eventually, we will no longer have hair and not have to worry about waxing ever again. It's one my mom has told me thousands of times. It seems like a ridiculous amount of work for something that doesn't matter.
That's the truth. It does not matter at all. It's not unhygienic, especially since it's not unhygienic for men to have hairy legs or underarms.
It's not unseemly; the hair is meant to be there.
And it shouldn't be seen as sexually attractive. The last time I was utterly hairless I was nine! Is that what I am should be emulating? A nine-year-old? I refuse.
I haven't shaved my legs in a long, long time. I don't think I ever will again. It took me a long time to get used to the idea that I don't have to shave because that's how brainwashed I have been. To this day I still consider underarm hair as unattractive on women, even to the point that I even shave my underarms. But why? I don't have a problem with my boyfriend having it? So why should I have a problem with me having it? It grows there, doesn't it? It doesn't hurt me! So why not let it?
We have been told that feminism is a choice. That what we decide to do as women to our bodies is feminism on its own. Which I agree, every woman has the right to determine whether she shaves or not. But I question this mentality. After all, my choice not to shave has caused me a lot of grief. Just like women who don't wear makeup are less likely to be hired the same can be said for my shaving. Is it feminist to perform this act of femininity that only benefits the patriarchy?
I don't have an answer. On the one hand, not shaving is an act of subtle rebellion, on the other hand, doing so could cost me a job. So I am not sure what the answer is. I haven't even touched how women of color have double the pressure to perform this act. So do plus size women. This subtle act would impact them a lot worse than it would impact me, who is a white-passing woman.
If you're reading and you shave I want you to consider why you do so. Is it because you are more comfortable without it? If so, why? Is that based on your own opinions or have you been convinced through our culture? I don't think that you need to stop. However, I think it would be healthier to know why you do the things you do.