I wrote this for a little booklet I put together on the occasion of a friend’s first new house. The prayer is specific to her own circumstances, but there is always some universality hidden in particularity.
When you stand in the morning
toothbrush in one hand
mascara brush in the other
staring into the mirror
May you see the image of God staring back.
May you rest confidently
in God’s miraculous creation
May you fight the pull to be made over
into an incarnation of the world’s expectations.
May you recognize yourself as a holy incarnation
May you reject narratives of barrenness
for the narrative of the empty and waiting tomb.
May the grief of an empty tomb
and the joy of a risen body
dance in you here
as you embrace the practice of being human.
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.