I shaved my legs for the first time this season.
Every spring, I make the decision to let my leg hairs maintain their winter state. I determine to eschew cultural expectations and forgo the tedious work of lathering my legs and scraping off all my hair. This, I tell myself, is not a ritual I will continue.
But it never fails that when the warmer, bare-legged, skirt-wearing weather has been around for more than a week, I take a razor to my legs anyway.
And it feels good – not the razor part, of course – but the silky-smooth aftermath. I feel cool and soft and shorn of a winter coat. I feel a part of a seasonal rhythm. And if that were my main motivation for shaving my legs every spring, I would do so boldly and without any promises to remain hairy next year.
But it’s not a reason – it’s a justification, an incidental experience. In truth, I shave because I’m supposed to, because to I want to be pretty and acceptable … but mostly because I don’t want my legs to draw attention to themselves. I don’t want my hair to stand out and be a symbol I have to explain or defend any more than I want my silky-smooth legs to represent capitulation to unreasonable standards of beauty. So I end up feeling a little trapped: no matter what I do with the hair on my legs, it means something. But I don’t want to make a statement about femininity – either of conformity or liberation – with my choice to wield or renounce a razor.
I don’t want a cultural battle-ground on my calves.
I just want them to be my legs. And I want my choice to shave them or not to mean nothing more than how I felt that day about hair.