I get a lot of odd questions about identifying as a feminist, many of them surrounding things I choose not to do that are expected of women today. One of these things is shaving. I rarely shave my legs, often going 6 months at a time without. The only reason I shave my underarms more frequently is because it makes me feel uncomfortable or unclean. When people realize this, their first question is usually if I do it "out of spite" or if it's just another way that I'm trying to act out against men.

When I started actively deciding not to shave, it came out of simply forgetting or not having enough time. I found myself stressing about having the time to shave my legs and all of the work involved. As a result, I questioned why I was taking the time to shave, and I couldn't come up with a good answer. I really was only shaving because it seemed to be expected of me. I did it because everyone else did it, not because it mattered to me whether or not there was hair on my legs. Taking time and energy out of my day to do something because the rest of the world thought I should just didn't seem like a good enough reason.

After this realization, I started to wonder why women started shaving in the first place. It didn't take me much research to learn that women didn't really start shaving until the early 1900s when women's fashion began to change. As hems shortened and sleeves were removed, legs and underarms were now exposed. In order to make more money and generate a new market, companies that manufactured shaving products (companies run by men) decided to start advertising women's razors. They created a campaign that went right along with new advertisements for women's fashion. These wealthy corporations convinced the entire American female population that the new "normal" was shaving their body hair. If women's bodies were going to be exposed in this new way, they had to be hairless.

Even less surprising is that from the start ads for women's shaving products were very different from those for men. Magazines emphasized that shaving your legs and underarms was a feminine endeavor, rarely using words like "blades", "razors", or even "shave". Women who shaved were painted as polite and ideal. Not only did processes like this develop into the marketing of unrealistic beauty standards to women today, but it created what is today known as the "pink tax". This means that products marketed specifically toward women, such as women's shaving products, are more expensive than identical products marketed towards men. In fact, when compared women's razors cost around $1 per razor, while men's razors are around 75 cents.

It simply doesn't make sense to me to spend money on products marketed towards me so that I can complete a tax that men decided I should have to complete in order to make them more money. Hair removal for men is always approached as a choice, while for women it's considered a necessity and women who don't remove their body hair are deemed odd. It's not that I don't shave simply to be angry at the world, I don't do it because I don't want to and no one has given me a reason good enough to shave more regularly.