Hairy legs and lack-thereof

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.

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