It’s now been a week since I’ve taken a razor to my now unsightly legs and, as my own mother put it, “offensive” armpits. While I’ve often gone this long without shaving before, each coming day the rest of this month will be the new longest time I’ve gone without shaving. (Assuming I don’t give in to societal and internal pressures and cut down the forest.) Crazy.
Speaking of pressure, I’m already getting self-conscious, mainly about my armpits--there’s not a lot of cute tops that aren’t sweaters women can wear without running the risk of flashing their armpits.
I think women feel a lot of pressure to do certain things to feel comfortable with themselves: straighten their hair, put on makeup, lose weight, wear nice clothes...shave their legs. Not that men don’t feel pressure do some of these things, but how often does a man’s appearance hold him back, compared to how often a woman’s appearance makes or breaks her career?
It’s not that dressing up and wearing makeup and shaving are bad things. It’s that women feel they have to do these things in order to be accepted.
It’s about choice. I know that I choose to dress up and wear makeup because I don’t always do these things, and still go out in public without feeling like a sideshow freak. But I can’t say the same about having hairy legs and pits. While I’ve gotten plenty of support for my body hair, I’ve also gotten plenty of “ew”s and “that’s gross”es, and even more troubling than the reaction I get from people who are missing the point are the inner feelings of negative self-image. I kind of expected them, and that’s why I wanted to do this.
I want my morning debate about whether to shave or not to be like all my other grooming-related procedures: I’ll do it if I feel like it, not because I feel like I have to. And I want all other women to feel that way, too.
Feminism is a lengthy subject, but it’s not about being a lesbian or a man-hater, it’s about being equal. It’s not even really about shaving, but about choice.
For more information for interested parties, I recommend checking out The Vagenda (vagendamag.blogspot.ca), a British online feminist magazine--particularly the article “Hair! (Not the Musical)” which in particular inspired my month-long experiment in furriness. For those of those really eager to commit to their learning, Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters by Jessica Valenti is an actual book that does a very good job of explaining some issues and topics relating to feminism--including why it’s good for men, too.