I have a feeling that “Oh, Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison is far more successful than my Hairy Woman rendition would have been.
Hair is an interesting thing for us human creatures – the way it grows differently across our bodies, the way that we can change its presentation with chemicals and tools, and the unique ways we socialize people to think of their hair in gendered, racialized, and negative ways.
In November of 2014, I participated in Movember by not shaving my legs instead of growing a moustache (simply because I cannot grow one – otherwise I am certain that I would). This act snowballed into a personal project of leaving hair on other areas of my body to just be for a little while. It has taken time for me to adjust to my legs having hair, since I have been socialized to enjoy the aesthetic and feel of bare, smooth legs – part of me wants to say, “I actually just like it that way, though! I wasn’t socialized to.” However, I know the power of socialization, and that it is the reason that I, along with with many other female/woman-identified individuals, feel that it is the best way my legs could look. Simultaneously, most male/man-identified individuals do not feel self-conscious about having hair on their legs (even the ultra-hairy fellas – though they do sometimes get flack for chest hair).
The opportunity to bring it up with people has been enjoyable, as some that are closer to me have been comfortable enough to point out, “So you’re not shaving your legs?” or, “Are those hairy legs I see?” and I am able to say, “Yeah, I’m challenging the discourse that my legs are unattractive with hair on both a personal and societal level.”
It is still something that makes me a bit shy, but I am gradually becoming used to my new-kind-of-soft legs – it is the fear of people I know more personally thinking strangely of it that gets to me, but strangers can think whatever they like – hopefully they’ll think, “Whoa, that’s awesome, I should also not have my decisions dictated too much by cultural norms!”
Of course, choosing to do whatever you want is what I think you should be comfortable doing when it comes to your body. This post is about how I’ve chosen to challenge the reasons behind my previous habits and figure out what I truly want and not what I’ve internalized as others wanting.