Thursday, January 12, 2006

Soapbox, II

So, what do you all think about shaving?

I ask because I’ve recently started shaving my legs. Not for the first time, I did shave them in junior and high school. I don’t remember being particularly dedicated to shaving, but I know that I did it. I experimented with not shaving when I got to college. I think it was even before my first sociology and anthropology classes. I think at first I just lengthened the amount of time between shaves to add more sleeping and then to avoid having to shave in the less than private stall-style showers they provided at Gonzaga. The more engaged I became by my sociology and anthropology classes the more opposed to shaving I became. I pretty much stopped all together by my sophomore year. Since then I have shaved, mostly to make my extended family more comfortable. I either shave or dress in a manner that does not accentuate my hairiness at family functions. It’s not my family’s fault their related to a hairy hippy who would jump at the chance to live in Canada or Sweden!

Lately, I’ve been feeling pressured by T’s comments regarding my scratchy legs and A’s increasingly conservative occupation to pick up the habit again. Honestly, I feel a little embarrassed and disappointed in myself when I shave. I don’t even like the way it feels when it’s done. My legs feel itchy and naked, my bikini line seems to have been rubbed with sandpaper and my underarms feel dry, sticky, sweaty and raw all at the same time. Call me lazy or overly liberal, I just don't like doing it.

The biggest thing is that I just hate joining in. I feel like I’m being dishonest to everything I’ve learned and wanted to become. It’s like I’m trying to get into a club I don’t want to join in the first place. I truly feel that every woman who shaves her legs, underarms and pubic hair is contributing to the sexualization of children. And supports our society's obsession with youth as the only acceptable form of beauty. I like being an adult and I embrace looking like one. So now that I’m off my soapbox, what do you all think? I welcome your (tasteful and considerate, please) comments. Please keep in mind that I've spent every moment with a two year old this week.


milk and cake said...

i totally feel pressure to shave sometimes, and then when i do i feel the same sense of guilt. i hate feeling like i have to do something, especially when it's not something that i particularily enjoy.

the last few years i've come to a bit of a compromise; i shave my leg once every few months (sometimes more if i feel like it, which is known to happen on occasion), but my armpits never see a razor. i keep them trimmed, but i also keep my bangs trimmed so i don't feel too bad about that. south of the border gets a bit of maintenance, but i agree with you--i'm a woman so i want to look like a woman, not a little girl.

there are lots of ways to be a woman, and i think if you don't feel comfortable shaving, then you shouldn't. you're super cute either way, and i know your people love you regardless. aaron's clients can learn how to deal! besides, at heart he's just as hippy as we are.

Alainsane said...

I'm a big old-time radio fan, and my favorite years are those included in the WWII era. There are so many cool things to learn about that time from the radio shows. Anyhow, one of the things that became apparent was how everything important was rationed: especially metal.

It made me wonder what women did back then because razors would have no doubt been rationed. Hubby (if he wasn't at war) couldn't very well shave his face every day and wifey her legs and underarms without burning through a lot of razors. So what did they do?

My search for answers turned up several (sometimes conflicting) theories** on what was going on then. One theory held that that women (including American women) didn't shave back then.

About the time of WWII, during the occupation of France, certain items were hard to come by. For this story, the most important one of these were silk stockings, especially those worn by prostitutes. These women wore silk stockings so that when they were in bed with their customers, their legs would feel smooth in spite of the hair underneath.

Their solution was to shave their legs. This left their legs smooth sort of like they were wearing stockings. Supposedly, some of them even would draw seams on the backs of their legs to complete the illusion. (Yes, back-seamed stockings.)

Enter the American GI, sweeping through France to go win the war. Once he figures out this scheme, it's not long before he goes home and convinces his wife to try this out, saving money on stockings! Foolish American women buy into this crap and begin shaving their legs and have continued to do so for the last 50ish years.

So what about those French prostitutes? After the war, they could get silk stockings again, and stopped shaving their legs.

Other theories were that plastic "victory razors" were used; though, I cannot find any pictures or other descriptions of such plastic razors. According to a "Miss World" site, plastic disposable razors weren't even invented until 1974.

Still others insisted that women all over the world have been shaving/waxing since ancient times as a way of "feminizing" the woman.

I'd love my woman no matter which option she chose. As an aside, I got talked into shaving my pits once, and even though the person who talked me into doing this is no longer in my life, I still shave them, because I like them better that way, and the upkeep isn't all that burdensome. ;)

**Several of the ideas above were found or reinforced on this Web page.