I remember sitting on a curb on the fifth-grade playground, looking at my dark hairy legs nestled between the smooth and hairless legs of my two best friends. They got to shave their legs, so why couldn’t I?
I’ve always been very pale with very dark hair, so the hair on my legs seemed like such a big deal to me. It was so dark and so abundant, and in order to feel like a proper fifth grader, I thought I needed to shave my legs. After all, everyone else was doing it.
After weeks of pleading, my mother finally approved and showed me how to use a razor to properly shave my little legs, and I was overjoyed. I felt so proud of my newly smooth limbs and finally felt like my other smooth-legged classmates. Since fifth grade, my desire and love for shaving my legs has severely declined. Something I once desperately wanted and enjoyed, I now rarely do.
About halfway through high school I unconsciously went about a month or so in the winter without shaving my legs. After this month, I realized no one sees my legs in the winter, and the hair didn’t bother me, so it turned into two or three months. The next winter I did the same thing. One of my best friends neglected to shave her legs during these months as well, and she and I would proudly report to one another how long we’d gone without shaving. Not shaving my legs turned into something fun and a sort of record for me to keep for myself.
Since these first few winters of no leg shaving, I’ve progressively become inconsistent with when I shave, and I no longer think about it. When I started college, I just naturally carried this lack of shaving over into the warmer months and started wearing dresses or shorts exposing my hairy legs without a worry. I even sometimes forget about shaving my armpits.
During the winter particularly when my friends or family do see my legs, I’m usually met with shock and disgust. They all think it’s gross that I let my leg hair get so long. What is so offensive about body hair on females anyway? It’s just hair. We have hair on our heads, so why is it bad to have elsewhere? We are still beautiful and strong whether we’re hairy or not.
Acquaintances have shockingly asked me, “But don’t you have a boyfriend?” as if having hair on my legs makes my boyfriend love me less or find me less attractive. If I did shave my legs, it shouldn’t be because I want to make men find me more attractive. I should shave (or not shave) my legs for me and no one else, thank you very much.
Since I stopped caring about shaving, I found myself feeling freer. That sounds a little silly to say, but quite honestly I have. I remember wearing something sleeveless and being annoyed that I had to shave my armpits before I left the house so that I didn’t have any stubble showing, and I remember feeling like I didn’t look good if I did. I also remember having to go out of my way to take an extra shower to shave my legs before an event. But here’s the things, folks: no one has to ever shave anything.
I freely leave the house with a little armpit stubble without any qualms. I expose my legs in the summer having gone about a month without shaving. Not to say I never shave, but I never feel like I have to for any reason. If one day I’m in the shower and the mood strikes me to shave my legs, then I will, but the mood never strikes consistently. Staying hairless is no longer a concern of mine, and I don’t think it should be. I love my body and feel confident no matter how much hair I have. Humans have body hair for a reason. And besides, there are way cooler things to worry about.
Stay hairy, my friends.
Image via Emily Lorentz