Not Shaving My Legs Is Personal Not Political
Having hair on my legs does not make me more feminist.
It has been one hot ass summer. A heatwave that has turned into daily life. Unused skirts, dresses, and shorts have suddenly become our everyday wardrobe. This has meant 2 things for me:
1. I have realised no matter how much sun I get I will never not be pale.
2. People really like to comment on the hair on my legs.
This isn’t the first year I haven’t shaved my legs. Around 2 years ago I decided to stop shaving. But this is the summer that people seemed to notice. This is the summer people have asked me why or called me a feminist because of it. Some in scorn and some in admiration. Girls, tell me how they couldn’t do it and how they shave their legs but ‘for them’. Guys give me questioning looks, some shrug and move on, some can’t stop staring and some are openly disgusted.
There are a few reasons I decided to stop. But once I did, something unexpected happened. I realised I really liked the hair on my legs. So now, when people ask why, my answer is because I like it. This seems to be the most shocking thing about it. I think most people expect me to go on a feminist rant about beauty standards and how it is unfair that women are expected to shave their legs but men aren’t. I think some people expect me to lift my arms and have a fur ball peeking out of my shirt. I think most are disappointed when they realise I don’t. Because I do like having smooth underarms, so I’m not going to stop shaving my pitts. That’s really all there is to it.
Yes, I could talk about how women shaving their legs was a marketing ploy, when razor companies realised they were missing out on a whole demographic of people to sell too. Yes, I could talk about how strange it is that we prize smooth legs as beautiful. Yes, I could bring up the fact that I have a co-ordination disorder called dyspraxia which meant I found shaving exhausting and hazardous. But while they were factors in my decision, the ultimate truth, is that I love my hairy legs. And that is the most feminist thing you can do; do something because it’s what you want, not what anyone else wants or expects from you.
Having hair on my legs doesn’t make me more of a feminist than someone who shaves, or waxes or lasers their hair away. If one day I decide I do want to shave my legs it won’t make me less of a feminist. Though it might make my legs less of a talking point at both family and friend gatherings. I don’t mind people asking me questions when I know them. It’s when complete strangers feel the need to comment I get annoyed. So as a little reminder, other people’s bodies, especially strangers, is not something you have the right to comment on even if it is something you find strange.
Anyway, it’s not that I’m never self-conscious about my legs. I went on a first date in a dress, showing off my quite nice and very hairy legs when I realised this might be off putting. Then I quickly reminded myself that if he was put off by hair we probably wouldn’t work anyway. But the few self-doubts I have is nothing compared the genuine happiness I feel looking at the dark hair on my legs. I am still learning to love my body and this is one thing I can say I have conquered. This is a radical act not because I’m letting my hair grow but because I am loving the hair that grows. Doing what I want, because its right for me. That is a feminist act and everyone should be allowed to figure out what that is for them without the added pressure of being judged if its feminist or not.
I’m going to keep on doing me. You keep on doing you.