What's The Big Hairy Deal?


Since I was a teenager, I was expected to shave or wax my legs when I wore a skirt. I never liked shaving or waxing. I avoided it. But I liked wearing skirts and shorts. Having hair on my legs never personally bothered me. So I only shaved my legs, when I decided to wear a skirt or shorts publicly. But since having hair on my legs never seemed like a big deal to me personally, I once forgot to shave my legs before I wore a knee length skirt to a casual gathering. As unpleasant as it seemed then, it turned out to be a liberating experience.

Someone came to me and pointed out that my legs were not shaved and made me feel embarassed. A few others giggled when I looked embarrassed. I was uncomfortable and very self concious. I found it hard to make conversation. I felt like a misfit. It was upsetting. And since I felt self conscious, even when everyones focus shifted to something else, I still felt like I was under an unpleasant spotlight.

That night, away from the giggling friends and gossip, the incident got me thinking. Why was it such a big deal? It is not unhygienic to have hair on your legs. Men have hairy legs and that is perfectly acceptable. Most men don't feel the need to shave before they wear shorts. While some women may like the look, there is no reason to feel embarrassed for not having shaved or shame some one for having hair on their legs.

Besides shaving and waxing are not pleasant experiences. My skin turns red and irritable after I wax and shaving makes my skin dry. When the hair starts to grow again in a few days my skin feels itchy and prickly. Epilating, from what I have heard, can't be a pleasant experience either. There are no hygine or health benefits to shaving hair on arms and legs, as far as I know.

So why do we have to do away with this hair? Why are bald legs so desirable? And if hair on legs is so disgusting on women, then why is it not disgusting on men? I couldn't think of a reason.

So I decided not to be embarrassed about having hair on my legs. And that was that. It doesn't bother me any more. If someone makes fun of my legs not being shaved, I just smile indifferently.

One day I was at a party, where I was wearing pants. So it wasn't obvious to people there, that I did not shave my legs. Some one came up to me and giggled, about how some girl was wearing a really short skirt, and she had not shaved high enough, so the line where she stopped shaving was visible. I responded with a blank look, so the person went on to tell the hilarious story to someone else.

It seemed to me that the woman who was the subject of the gossip also disliked shaving and waxing, or was in a hurry and did the bare minimum to avoid embarrassment. Why do we treat our fellow women this way? Why is it so important that, if our legs are visible, they must also be bald? Why not let everyone make their choices and leave judgement and embarrassment out of it? That way everyone can be a #PerfectFit in a social situation.

Tags: women, patriarchy, social