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.