A (personal) tale about hair

I’m about to shave my legs, for the first time in years.

I’ve let my body be, for a long time now. I am – as defined by society – a woman. On account of my gender, there are pre-conceived norms and ideas about the way that I should look. I’ve defied these norms in numerous ways, including my hairiness. To avoid being sanctimonious about the whole thing, it is worth nothing that it been easier for me than it may be for others. I am fair skinned and fair-haired, features that (incredibly unjustifiably) render me ‘attractive’ by society’s arbitrarily defined beauty standards. It is, therefore, less obvious to the outsider that I let my hair do as it pleases.

So, the choice to let my body be, to let my hair grow, to expose my bare, make-up less skin, is easier for me than for others. My privilege – my white-ness – lessens the resistance that I face by defying society’s expectation that I be hairless. Already, by virtue of my privilege, I am placed upstream when swimming against the current. Nonetheless, I have often felt the pressure, to be hairless. I have felt the lingering gaze of strangers on my legs, when exposed, and on my underarms as I throw a ball or reach to push the button on the tram. How crazy, I’ve thought to myself, that I be considered abnormal by abstaining from ripping my hair from their follicles. To conform, I’d be adding to a perception of beauty that is modelled on the skin of a young child.

I’ve resisted the urge to give in – but now, I want to know what it is like to be hairless. It is hard to tell where my desire comes from. It seems that its an internally driven desire, but I don’t think that the internal and external are easily separated into neatly defined categories. Nonetheless, I’d prefer that in my curiosity, I am not caving to the expectations of society. I want to do it for myself. I choose to shave my legs now, in the middle of winter, so that I can cover my hairless skin with clothing so as not to perpetuate the pressure for other women to be hairless. On that note, I do not want them to feel the pressure to be hairy either. I just want them to be, just as they are, and just as they want to be.

I am somewhat ashamed, but excited. My curiosity has taken hold. I wonder what it will feel like? And what does this mean for feminist in me? Does it mean anything, and do I need to be attached to my identity as a feminist? And will I regret it? Lets see.

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