I’m going to preface today’s somewhat random thoughts with the following: I am who I am. And I say that because always trying to be someone I’m not is hella exhausting. Well, and it undermines my entire sense of self-worth, which naturally seems to be in short supply.
Though, on second thought, perhaps “naturally” is a poor word choice. I am suddenly thinking that this might become a whole different post than I came here intending it to be… let’s see….
This morning I’m just kind of sitting here mindlessly sipping my (long gone) cold coffee and catching up on the news and things.
I’m neurodiverse (I don’t know if anyone has picked up on that yet?) and though I possess the knowledge of and equipment for proper desk ergonomics, I defy the science and embrace my personal comfort instead. In short (ha, I’m also short, actually), I sit cross-legged (criss-cross applesauce? pretzel-style?) in my desk chair. It does wonders for my circulation. 😉
Anyway… so I’m sitting here doing what I do and my hand brushes against my leg and I realize that I need to shave. But then I started thinking about why I need to shave. Why do any of us women need to shave?
My gut response is, of course, that I need to shave because there’s hair growing on my legs. I don’t like hair. I like my legs smooth. That’s why I need to shave, right? Because *I* like it that way?
BUT what if my mother before me hadn’t shaved her legs? Nor had her mother before her?
What if I hadn’t spent my entire life being fed marketing campaigns selling me on the importance of women having silky smooth legs?
What if on that fateful day in 4th grade when we were graciously allowed to wear shorts to school specifically because it was field day, I hadn’t found myself traumatized by the stares and jeers and giggles of my classmates simply because I had not yet started shaving my legs?
What if women just didn’t shave their legs and leaving it alone was the “norm”? Would I still be sitting here telling myself that I need to shave? Not likely.
A Little History on Leg Hair Removal
It wasn’t really a thing before World War I. Mostly because prior to that, women’s legs were covered by long skirts and other clothes, and no one was shaming them about it (well, not THAT specifically, there’s always been plenty of women-shaming issues throughout history).
Women’s underarms came first, with the increasing popularity of sleeveless dresses, beginning as early as 1915 and into the 1920s, accompanied by (or maybe spurred on by or in conjunction with) Gillette’s invention of the Milady Décolleté.
After winning the war against women’s underarm hair, they brought the fight to their legs. The 1940s and 50s brought bare-leggedness into the mainstream. Oh no, we can see they have some hair there! (Leg shaving was previously common only among professional dancers.) This may have, in part, been owing to a nylon shortage during wartime that greatly impacted the supply of women’s stockings coupled with rising fashion trends featuring shorter hemlines.
Egads! The only body hair any woman should ever have is that which rests atop her head (oh, and on-point eyebrows)!! Off with it! Off with it allllll… and the rest, as you well know, is… well, history.
Guess I’m off to shave my legs now.