Poils aux Gambettes/Hair on your legs by GabrielleWritten by The Young Women's Movement
Back in the day, I was not comfortable with being a feminist. While I shared the values and agreed with all the principles of feminism, identifying as one still felt like political suicide to me.
So, I overcompensated.
I would not be a hairy buzz kill feminazi, no way. I committed religiously to looking feminine and making sure I was 100% socially acceptable and not at all a bra burning nutter. Trust me, the irony of identifying as feminist and then working twice as hard to correspond to standards set by the patriarchy is not lost on me….
Due to this logic, I felt strongly that I should not have hairy legs. Only men have those you see – well, men and those man hating feminazi’s.
While I wasn’t very good at staying on top of my leg hair (somehow, I was rarely in the mood for an hour long session of waxy torture), I felt appropriately ashamed when caught with fur on my lower limbs. I would always try and make sure I was waxed when going to pole dancing lessons, the pool, or before having sex.
If I wasn’t, I would try and do everything to make sure no one looked at my legs. The thought of someone saying or even thinking “ugh, so you’re that kind of feminist….” made me squirm.
Then something really lovely happened: I met my partner (not to get all soppy or anything, but he’s the absolute kitty’s titties). As we started seeing more and more of each other, I realised that he didn’t really notice my hair at all. To be honest, unless I pointed it out, he would never realise the difference between waxed or furry.
This made me feel really carefree about it; my waxing routine started slipping further and further away from my mind. So I grew my hair longer, and longer, until before I knew it, I hadn’t waxed in months. My legs were covered in hair and I hadn’t even noticed. I was going to pole with yeti like coverage and never even twigged!
As this new found au naturel style was not a conscious decision, rather something that just happened, I didn’t really know what I thought of it. I knew I liked not having to spend silly amounts of time waxing. I knew I liked not feeling gross when I was fluffy. But it felt wrong to not feel bad about having hairy legs. I still struggled with the aesthetics of it : it’s not what I was used to seeing, and it still made me think “yuk” when I actually take a closer look.
I’ve gotten used to it now. I still don’t find it pretty, but I love this change in attitude. Being hairless is now something that I choose; I don’t wax by obligation, I do so by choice, when I feel like it.
Being hairy is now my option instead of my default. That shift from hair removal being a responsibility I had towards others as a female, to it simply being something I do when I feel like it, has been so incredibly freeing.
I don’t want to be cliché here (because I still have my girl-in-a-patriarchal-world thought patterns nicely etched in my brain): I am not saying all girls should bin their (sexistly overpriced) razors in the name of girl power.
Furriness, smoothness, it should all be a matter of preference really. I’m just glad that I let myself explore a new option that I was put off by in the past. Now I know it fits me and makes my life happier and freer.
What’s not to love?!
Image by Sarah Candersen
Gabrielle Blackburn is one of our fantastic blogging network members. As a cognitive scientist and a feminist activist, she is interested in exploring the roots and consequences of prejudice and bias, especially those relating to gender. She also enjoys good beer, pole dancing, and confusing people with her unidentifiable accent.