Recently, my 13-year-old son and I were discussing all the changes he is anxiously awaiting as puberty draws closer. As he told me how he can’t wait for his armpit hair to grow in, I told him that girls have armpit hair start growing during puberty, too. He was stunned to learn that girls also grow armpit hair and often shave it off. He asked me all of the other areas women commonly shave off our body hair.
And then he asked me a question I couldn’t answer very well. He asked, “Why do women shave their legs?” I had plenty of feisty, sassy, and anti-establishment answers in my head about “the man,” impossible beauty standards and advertising. I finally settled on this simple answer: women shave because we’ve been told we’re supposed to.
And I started thinking.
Why am I shaving my legs for this?
And I realized that I have no reason to shave that deeply matters to my soul. I’ve shaved my legs for the past 31 years because I thought I had to. I believed that I had to shave to be pretty & feminine, and be acceptable to both women and men. But I never stopped to consider if it was something I wanted to do to my body. Until now.
I remember being an 11-year-old girl desperately excited to shave her legs for the first time. Having an older sister, I always looked forward to the next big rite of passage as I grew into a woman. I remember the night I shaved off my soft, blonde leg hair and stepped in all that lay beyond.
Stopping the Shave: An Experiment
I decided to stop shaving my legs for 2021 and see what happens both around me and inside me. Are people going to stare at me this summer when I wear my tee-shirt dresses and shorts? How long is my leg hair going to grow? Can I push back against the norms long enough to complete this experiment or will the pressure to confirm get too much? Will I still feel beautiful and sexy? And why does my body hair even factor into my beauty?
Friends, I will keep you posted! Stay tuned for an update in a few months!
If you want to learn more about the history of women shaving in America, this is an awesome video!