Fat, Happy, and Hairy, Part II

Here is Part 2:

The other big thing, lookswise, is something I alluded to before, but haven’t quite figured out how to talk about, because I am still working out my own thoughts/feelings on the subject, and I am curious to hear yours – please share!  This topic, my friends, is hair and shaving.

A little over a year ago, I stopped shaving regularly.  I had started to bleed when I shaved, no matter how long I waited in between shavings, about a year before that, and one day I looked down and my entire leg was dripping with blood.  I counted 18 spots where I had cut myself on the front of just one leg, and I decided that that much blood was not worth the “beauty” of shaving.  So I started going a couple of months in between shaving, and that helped, but I was still bleeding occasionally.

At one point, I noticed a friend of mine staring at my legs, and I sort of sheepishly explained why I wasn’t shaving.  And she said something like, “Oh, I thought that maybe it was just true that lesbians don’t shave.  Like, oh, look, I’m a lesbian and now I don’t shave anymore!”  I was quick to assure her that it had nothing to do with being a lesbian and it had everything to do with the amount of bleeding I was willing to do for my culture’s definition of beauty.

[Disclaimer: I’m sort of working through my thoughts here, so sorry for the lack of organization.  Chime in! Thanks.]

But sometimes I think that being a lesbian gives me more opportunity to say “fuck it” to the standards.  I think this can be true in a variety of contexts, including the amount of hair on my body, the clothes I decide to wear (dress vs. men’s clothes, chacos vs. heels… I hate heels!), or the kind of wedding I have.  There are sort of set expectations when you are a straight woman: this is what a straight woman does, this is what she looks like, this is who she marries, this is how she acts – and I suspect that sometimes it is harder to buck those expectations than it is as a lesbian.  One of the cool things is that we get to decide what a lesbian (by which I mean, me, the lesbian) looks like, what I do, who I marry… I’ve already bucked tradition, here I go making my own path! Interestingly, for some people, what I do might define “what a lesbian does” if I am the only lesbian they know.

So back to the hair.  Shortly after that conversation, I shaved again, because I didn’t want to be “one of those lesbians” – I wanted to do my own thing.  But either way, I’m stuck doing someone else’s thing: I’m a woman fulfilling cultural expectations by shaving, or I’m a big ol’ stereotypical dyke by not shaving.  A couple of months ago, I said, “screw it, I’ll just do what I want to do,” and I stopped shaving.

And whoa did my legs get hairy.  I compared them last week to my sister’s boyfriend’s legs.  They were just as hairy as his.  Hey ladies!  Women’s legs can be just as hairy as men’s!  I had no idea!  There was something kind of cool about it.  You think you can grow hair?! I can grow hair!

But yesterday, I decided I was done.  I put on a pretty dress and I noticed my legs more than I noticed the dress.  So I shaved them.  And for now, I love that.  I love my smooth legs and the complete lack of hair.  It’s a nice change.  But I have no idea what I’ll be doing in a month or in two months or on my wedding day.

We went to a wedding last summer and the bride was dancing and she lifted her arms and she had not shaved.  And while I don’t know what I want for my armpits or how comfortable I personally would be with not shaving (i’m getting there! if you couldn’t tell…), it was so empowering to see her in her dress, having the most wonderful time at her wedding being herself. There was something strong and magical about it.

Yeah, so call me a crunchy lesbian, and then tell me what you think.  And tell me for serious, but be gentle too, okay?  Okay.  Thanks.



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10 responses to “Fat, Happy, and Hairy, Part II

  1. Melissa

    Why not try waxing if it’s that big of a deal or try the stuff you put on and then it exfoliates the hair? There are other ways to take care of leg hair if it’s that big of a deal. P.S. Every lesbian I know is different…and let me tell you I know more than I ever thought I would!…some try to look like men, some look like every other woman I know. Some allow themselves to be abused and some just sleep around. Just like every other person I know, each lesbian is different too…just my opinion 🙂 Love ya!

  2. My legs are also very sensitive when I shave. I only shave June – August then its hairy legs covered by jeans or tights for the rest of the year! Here’s a couple of tricks I use:
    1. A good razor. It a pain but you need a good, clean, new razor.
    2. Shave in two steps. Step one. Lather your leg and smooth all your hairs down in one direction. Shave downward in the direction of your hairs (going from your knee to your feets). Step 2: Re-lather smoothing your hairs upward and shave upward (the normal way). Shaving downward first will decrease the number of hairs you rip out when you shave upward.

    Next trick. This is rare but I always have it on hand in case I just don’t feel like ripping up my legs or other areas.. ‘Nair pretty soft peach hair remover cream’. Yup. Its for special occasions when my legs look like hell with scars and bruises and I don’t want to add razor cuts to the mix.

    My opinion about being a stereotype by not shaving.. You can totally shave and be a lesbian. You and I know that Boston is full of hot lesbians and how many of them are shaven? A LOT OF THEM. How many straight girls don’t shave? Post a poll in January and see how many girls are shaving. In college my roomies had a leg hair growing contest for the entire school year. You totally have the freedom to not have your hair define you. The only people applying stereotypes are stereotypes themselves.

  3. cmc

    Dear MLHC,
    I have not shaved my legs regularly since I was 14. Also, I have stopped shaving my armpits except for when the extra sweat makes me uncomfortable and antiperspirant seems too carcinogenic. Please, for the sake of all that is good, just do what moves you, what makes you comfortable… for self-empowerment reasons, political reasons, or just plain hedonistic comfort. And it’s okay for that to differ from day to day, week to week, year to year…

    Always all the love in the world,
    Your Favorite Dyke (for political reasons),
    CMC 🙂

  4. I love the stuff you write about! Here is my situation: I think hair is icky, but I’m also really lazy. I surrender to shaving my legs a couple times a week when it’s warm out, and I appreciate it more because most of the time they’re scratchy and hairy. Sidenote: I think I’d shave MORE if I had a girlfriend (instead of a boyfriend) because a) girls are more likely to notice, and b) all those smooth legs would feel nice together.

  5. Tip: buy an electric razor. It will cut down on the bleeding, plus you can be mega-lazy.

    Your post made me laugh because I hate heels, frequently go more than a week without shaving (I wear pants most of the time, and at the gym I just don’t care), wear pants or day-to-day don’t really care about how I look, and it has never been the fact that I was super-girly that was connected to why anyone thought I was gay. (In high school, people thought I was gay because I was a strident feminist, but it had zero to do with how I dressed.)

    As an adult, I have learned it is totally acceptably feminine to have short hair, wear flats, wear pants, never wear makeup and only shave for special occasions. It’s like we all hit a certain age and say, “hey, cultural beauty standards are bullshit”. It’s the only good thing I’ve found about getting older.

  6. i haven’t shaved anything in well over a year and i feel pretty good about it. i used to spend so much TIME shaving and trimming and so on (i used to “groom” my pubic hair as well) and these days i can’t really remember WHY. it took me a long time to stop thinking of my hairy legs as sort of ugly, but recently i think i’ve gotten there. my hairy armpits actually make me feel really feminine somehow–sort of primal and earthy, i guess. i don’t find that i sweat any more than i used to, and i don’t use antiperspirant (i use aluminum-free deodorant).

    it definitely helps that my boyfriend thinks i’m a totally sexy badass for not shaving. still, it is weird to me that my choice not to shave is a political statement as much as it’s just laziness… at least it’s not a political statement i am at all reluctant to make (fuck the patriarchy!).

    i guess it’s not just laziness–i also hated how wasteful it seemed–extra water in the shower, and so many little razor blade cartridges thrown away.

    sometimes i miss the soft legs thing, but then i remember how much stubble is NOT soft! my hairy legs are pretty soft, and i really love how the wind feels through my leg hair when i ride my bike with bare legs.

    • Stacia, I meant to reply to this a week ago. I LOVE the feeling of the wind in my leg hair! I was just telling someone that having long leg hair feels smooth and soft just like having no leg hair, but with less effort and trash as you say. Thanks for putting that into the right words 🙂

  7. akc

    I hate shaving. It takes up too much time and energy and it’s awkward and twisty and razors are expensive. And during senior year of high school, we may have had a weekly comparison of who hadn’t shaved in the longest time (thank you, all girls school). At the same time, I try to shave on the “more frequent” side of the equation, because for all the hassle, I like the way my legs look/feel when I’ve shaved. But ultimately, it’s about what I want. I think there are 3 times when you “should” shave: 1. If you want to (duh); 2. If your [insert term for romantic partner here] likes when you shave and you want to make them happy (again, really about if you want to); 3. If there is a professional/social situation where you feel like it would be unduly harmful to not shave AND you have no other option but for it to be visible that you haven’t shaved AND the benefits of that situation (getting a job, being allowed at your sibling’s wedding, whatever) substantially outweigh the downside of having to shave. And option 3 is basically a nice way of saying: because people are ridiculous and refuse to accept the primary point, which is that whether or not you shave is ultimately your choice.
    And for the record, I think this applies to every person, regardless of sexual orientation or gender. It’s your body, your hair, your choice.

  8. I am a shaver. My wife is not. We are both very girly people. Honestly, even she admits that it is just because she’s lazy. She’s also blond, and even when she wears shorts you can’t tell unless you are really close to her. I just do it because I like to, even though I wear shorts less than she does.

    She jokes that it’s because she’s a hairy crunchy feminist, but really she just doesn’t care!

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