Monday, September 7, 2009


So I was hanging out with Allison the other day and she asked me if I groomed my leg hair. And I said, "If I were going to do anything to my leg hair, I'd just shave it." Which surprised her to a degree that surprised me. I guess there's widespread assumption that it's a Statement.

My body hair is not a Statement.

There are a couple of levels on which I want to address this. The first is explanatory: I don't shave because I dislike the act of shaving, and a couple of years ago I just realized that the social rewards were not worth the pain in the ass that shaving regularly represents. It's not something I put mental or political energy into not doing, it's just something I don't do. (Comfort is also an issue. With shaving armpits come razor burn, prickliness, and a gross damp feeling.)

On a more meta level, I have a problem with the idea that someone's corporeal body can or should be a Statement. It's an idea that comes from a misinterpretation of the idea of "the personal is political," which was designed to let the complexities of real life, real experiences, gain legitimacy in the over-simplified political sphere. By contrast, the concept of making one's life into a Statement is based around taking simplistic political slogans and structuring your life around it, regardless of nuance. I guess everyone falls into that trap to one degree or another (ex.: I don't think I could date a Republican), but I try to stay out of it.

Unfortunately, I think that things like not shaving cause people to think I'm some sort of ultrafeminist, which is not how I think of myself. I have a lot to say about why and how and how much I consider myself a feminist, but for the sake of brevity let me just say this: feminism doesn't mandate that I not shave. Feminism allows me to not shave.

(Ironically, as my wardrobe starts to gravitate toward pointy-toed shoes and pencil skirts, I'm starting to think leg hair is an aesthetic incongruity and I'm considering taking a pair of electric clippers to it.)

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