In this modern era, feminists need not burn their bras and boast about their hairy legs. We’re in an era of feminism that promotes individual choice. You’re not a bad feminist if you shave your legs and wear make-up. That is what is so fantastic about the kind of feminism that the first wave and second wave have built for our generation. This feminism is entirely about acceptance and choice – the choice for each individual woman to do what she wants.
However, there is a kind of stigma regarding the actions of the first wave of feminists in today’s society. The stereotypical feminist concept of not shaving your legs may be considered archaic and unnecessary by some people but stereotypical feminist stuff isn’t necessarily a negative thing. Maybe it’s even an opportunity for some women to connect with the suffragette’s of the early era of feminism.
In recent years, with the rise of what some people would call the newest wave of feminism, there has been an increase in the number of women being vocal about gender equality. You may be aware of an online movement, particularly on Tumblr, of women growing out the hair on their legs. There are blogs filled with all sorts of women – different sizes, shapes and colours – in all their hairy glory. This is where my journey started.
When I first stumbled on these blogs I was shocked and, to my own embarrassment, a little grossed out. It’s so easy to have negative feelings towards things that are foreign and ideas that you don’t see in your own everyday life, especially when you have society and the media influencing your views. That’s why it’s important to stop, take a step back and really think about issues like these. And that’s what I did.
At first, while looking through all those photos I was thinking about how brave these women were. They were clearly proud about their rebellion against the double standards and ridiculous expectations that had been put upon them. It was admirable to me. It was a representation of the kind of person I had always wanted to be like – unfazed by the opinion of those around me and confident in my own decisions. And I stopped.
Why should women who choose not to shave their legs be labelled as “brave”? What a bizarre notion. If the shaving of legs is only a modern-era fashion choice, why are so many people so disgusted by it. Why was I disgusted by it?
I found a flaw in my own beliefs. It was hypocritical of everything I stand for which is not something I was particularly pleased with. Hairy legs made me uncomfortable and my own hairy legs were an area of anxiety.
I think the reason that hairy legs on women are so offensive to some people is because of a clash of gender norms. While it is easy to accept a cross over of actions, for example a woman liking cars or a man being a nurse, it is harder to accept when it becomes part of someone’s physical appearance. Perhaps because we as humans are so judgmental about the way someone looks or dresses. Men wearing makeup and women not shaving their legs blurs the gender line just as a woman who likes cars does but it definitely does not insight the same kind of hatred.
Due to the fact that I absolutely love self-improvement, I decided I would better myself by showing off my unshaven legs. While having hairy legs I did not wear more long pants than usual or try and hide them in anyway and not a single person commented on them (except for the time I went up to my best friend and said, “Duuuude! Look at my legs!” which was met by a “Woooah, cool!”)
I didn’t shave for a month but succumbed to peer pressure when I had to visit a friend I had not seen in quite some time. Since I hadn’t shaved my skin was no longer dry and was far more healthier than it had been.
I am now back to my hairy state and I have saved time, money and the environment by not using razors. Though I find that it causes anxiety in me sometimes, I know that it is something that will help me overcome that anxiety. If anyone should notice, I know that it will be a great way to start an insightful conversation about gender and I love nothing more than a good debate about gender norms.
I learned that a lot of the time and effort that I put into plucking and shaving and tweezing went mostly unnoticed by other people. It was mostly for my own benefit and that’s the only person you should ever do something for – yourself. However, I know that when I really thought about it, I wasn’t shaving my legs for myself. I was shaving them so that I would fit in. If shaving works for you that’s totally cool, but if you’re on the fence I would recommend at least giving the hairy look a go!