I stopped shaving my legs on 9 July 2005. It wasn’t a decision I made with any foresight or conviction. It came down to a choice between shaving and eating, and I picked eating.
It started innocently enough. I was packing for my three-week study abroad in Oxford, England. I managed to fit it all into a carry on. I didn’t pack my razor. Razors were carry-on no-no’s. I knew when I landed I could buy one. I had pounds and pence in my wallet and had notified my back that I would be travelling throughout the UK for three weeks and would be using my check card while there. I took a shower, shaved my legs, dressed for travel, grabbed my bag, locked the door, and left on my second summer study abroad.
During the six-hour flight, two things happened. First, my fault, was the posting of the study abroad deposit check from six months prior that I never wrote down, didn’t notice as outstanding, and spent paying a month forward on responsibilities so as not to give them any thought while overseas. Second, partially my fault, was the posting of the post-dated rent check three weeks early. I had only what was in my wallet for three weeks in England, or about £70.
I stretched every pence to eat. I had a couple of pints. I did not buy a razor.
I returned to the US, and my then boyfriend and now ex-husband didn’t notice. I was so nervous. After accepting that I couldn’t shave for three weeks and being pleasantly surprised that the hair grew in blond (seriously, check the gravatar, you can’t tell), I was suddenly hit with the overwhelming anxiety of my boyfriend discovering my hairy legs. Gasp! But he didn’t.
I decided to wait and see if he would notice. He didn’t even touch my legs. I asked him about it after a couple of days. He didn’t care. It wasn’t my legs he cared about.
Fast-forward to 2013. Three years out of my marriage, and still with the hairy legs. Still, until a weekend which sociologically demanded shaved legs. I plucked flower petals. I shave. I shave not. I shave. I shave not. I shaved.
I shaved and my legs felt fucking awesome! Holy mutherfucker of smoothness. I couldn’t keep my hands off my legs. Two days later, I was shaving again, and cursing it. Why?!?!?!
Good question. As I pulled the razor up my legs, erasing the soap in single, short strokes, I questioned my motivation. I had been staring at a year’s supply of razors for eight years, untouched. Why now? A man? Myself? Society? A sick and patriarchal combination of the three?
A man? I was going to spend time with a man the following Saturday. It was, at the time, plenty enough platonic that it didn’t matter. It was spring, and I knew I could get away with jeans.
Myself? It’s an arduous and time-consuming task, but the results made me feel good. I needed feel good. If ten minutes in the morning would give me that, then those ten minutes were well used.
Society? Had it ever noticed, I probably would have been bullied into making the decision long before I did. But it didn’t, and I liked that I could go undercover as a woman, and still be a woman. Society can kiss my ass.
I started shaving my legs again on 1 April 2013. It came down to choice. I wanted to, and so I did. Now, sometimes I shave and sometimes I don’t shave. It’s my choice, and having choice isn’t something I take lightly.
*Title references Schick®, a maker of razors for women and men.