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Subject:leg hair.
Time:06:00 pm
About 10 years ago I stopped shaving my legs and armpits. Mostly because shaving really aggravated my eczema, it just seemed easier not to do it. Partly because I started becoming disenchanted with the standard beauty ideals which are forced on women. And then became down-right pissed at them. And as time went on, a few of my friends stopped shaving, and I became friends with girls who were also the type of people not to shave. It was normalized in my world.

I've always dressed "weird", since the time my mom let me dress myself (can you say wearing watches on my ankles? Yeah--I was an avant garde fashionista when I was 4), and the official story was that I've never cared what people thought of me. And I supposed I never did. But the real story was that I never realized people thought anything of me. I was always totally oblivious to people looking at me weird. So whenever people thought I dressed weird, or my body hair grossed out or offended (why would it offend someone? who knows, but it does) someone, I never noticed. I remember this girl in a class in 11th grade giving me dirty looks at the beginning of class, and it wasn't until almost the end of class that I realized it was probably because of my leg hair.

But I'm so much more aware of it now, now that I have to cover it up. Now that I have to have a "professional" appearance as a teacher. Now, all the explanations of what a professional appearance entails never include any mention of body hair--precisely because shaving is so standard, that nobody thinks it needs mentioning, it's assumed every woman shaves. And so, I have assumed that I need to cover it up at all times. I built a work wardrobe with 3/4 length sleeve shirts, so no armpit hair peeks out when I raise my arms. And in warm weather, stuck inside classrooms that feel like hot boxes with lots of bodies, I have to wear pants or solid tights with my dresses. Capri pants are not even an option. And I greatly resent that. But having to be so aware of covering up, has made me more sensitive and aware when it is showing (in non-professional settings). I'm noticing more when people are staring at me because of it. I notice, when, for instance, I'm at the water park with my brother and my mom and I hear a group of boys behind me pointing out my body hair to each other and laughing, and then staring at me when they walk by. Part of me wants to yell fuck you, because beauty norms are bullshit. And part of me wants to cry because I feel shitty having my body laughed at. And in the past few years, my leg hair has gotten curlier, whereas it used to lay flatter, and I personally don't like the look of it as much, especially with a dress and heels. Also, my boyfriend--who claims not to care physically about my body hair, whether or not that is true--confided that lately the looks I've been getting for my hair when we're out have started to get to him.

So I'm going to start shaving my legs. I still won't shave my armpits, because I find the itching and irritation that accompanies armpit stubble to be something akin to torture (especially with my eczema). It'll be easier for work, and I'll feel freer to wear whatever I want in the summer. I resent that I feel like there isn't a choice about this issue. Society makes it so that there isn't a choice. But for the last decade I had made it into a choice for myself, and I was proud of that. But it's hard to feel proud when I feel insecure and nervous and stared at.

I feel like a failure.
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sayshesaslut
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Time:2010-07-27 01:31 am (UTC)
Aww, Lara. Don't feel like a failure.
I've always been pretty aware of how people react to my body hair, and it does indeed really suck. People are such idiots.
I often wonder how much more self-conscious I'd be about my own leg hair if it weren't so light. It's fairly unnoticeable unless you are very close to me. At the camp in NC I wore shorts, but we had short sleeved shirts we had to wear (unisex, so the sleeves were fairly long), and I never gave a thought to my armpit hair. This post makes me wonder what I'll do at my new job, since they don't have a required uniform and I can wear tank tops in hot weather.
This sort of reminds me of my capstone presentation at GVSU. Part of our grade was on our appearance. I was clean, I combed and pulled back my hair (which I hadn't done in months, hah), I had on the nicest thing I owned at the time- black dress pants and a striped dress shirt. I looked as cleaned-up and professional as I'd ever looked in my life. I got a 3 out of 4. I didn't ask, but I had a very strong suspicion it was because I wasn't wearing makeup, and therefore didn't look "put together" the way women are supposed to. Not exactly the same as body hair, but definitely along the same lines as far as "professional" dress and beauty standards go.
Anyway, don't feel too bad. Do what you have to do, and maybe when you have your own class and have their respect, you won't feel like you need to hide it. Or, maybe you will, and that's okay, too. It's bullshit that the norms make us feel that way about ourselves, but it's also not a failing on your part for deciding to give into it here or there to make your life a little easier.
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sayshesaslut
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Time:2010-07-27 01:34 am (UTC)
Oh, also, shame on Robert. If it truly doesn't bother him that you don't shave, other people looking at you funny shouldn't bother him at all.
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(Anonymous)
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Time:2010-07-27 11:46 am (UTC)
There's a huge difference between what I like or dislike, and what other people like or dislike. And maybe I'm not secure enough to deal with that. So, you know, whatever.

-Robert
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sayshesaslut
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Time:2010-07-28 05:45 pm (UTC)
Sorry, Robert. I just don't like when things are making Lara feel bad about herself. :(
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laralikesska
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Time:2010-07-29 12:33 am (UTC)
And that's why I love you, Kara! Thanks for the pep talk. :] Yeah, I imagine makeup may be considered part of a "professional" look, but it's something that never crosses my mind!
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betweenthebars
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Time:2010-07-27 01:25 pm (UTC)
Don't feel bad. I guess it's a growing up period when you realize that you don't always make decisions based solely on you. When you take other people that you love and care about into account sometimes you have to compromise yourself a bit. I know that I've come to terms with it. Just as long as you don't lose yourself.

<=ryan=>
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laralikesska
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Time:2010-07-29 12:34 am (UTC)
Yeah, I suppose it's part of growing up, huh? Oh well.
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betweenthebars
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Time:2010-07-29 12:46 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I guess it is. I mean, I used to live in army pants and band shirts and an old World Wildlife Federation hat. It was my uniform. You'd look at me now and you'd never know that I made records, played in countless bands.. I think I only own jeans now (ones that fit!), plain T shirts, and I recently buzzed my head and shave regularly. It happens. you can't be too unyielding.

"You see, Flanders? You give a little, you get a little!"

<=ryan=>
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betweenthebars
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Time:2010-07-29 12:49 pm (UTC)
For the record, though, I don't think that hairy legs are gross.

<=ryan=>
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laralikesska
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Time:2010-08-03 04:21 pm (UTC)
yay!
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theexits
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Time:2010-07-27 04:47 pm (UTC)
this is tough. i hardly ever shave my legs and with summer heat comes shorter pants/etc. most of my in real life friends think it's gross so i try to not wear shorts around them which is lame but i do it because it's just easier that way. i usually feel like a loser because i don't just stick to my guns.
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laralikesska
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Time:2010-07-29 12:37 am (UTC)
It can be hard to stick to yr guns, though, when people you care about are looking at you like you're gross, or there's something seriously wrong with you. It's understandable we're uncomfortable.
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merenator
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Time:2010-07-31 10:29 pm (UTC)
i stopped shaving my armpits for a while. i suppose there wasn't a reason for it other than i always forget and i found that when i had longer armpit hair, i didn't have to wear deodorant. so it saved time and money. but then the boyfriend said he didn't really like it, so i shaved. and i know he wouldn't break up with me if i quit shaving my armpits, but i suppose a part of me feels i owe it to him as a favor. like, he trims his pubes and buys me different flavors of mt dew when i'm not expecting it, so perhaps all's fair? it's hard to stick to doing shit you feel comfortable doing. if only other people weren't around. or we lived on an island and didn't have razors. but then there'd be no q-tips and i'd go crazy.
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laralikesska
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Time:2010-08-03 04:24 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I mean, I'm not willing to fundamentally change who I am for my boyfriend, but we both do little things here and there, I think that's part of being in a relationship. But it's something that I'm not so comfortable not doing any more so I guess it's a win-win for us both.
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[icon] leg hair. - took mystery as her lover
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