Saturday, April 4, 2015

"I Shave My Legs! Sometimes..."

I'm "shamefully" horrible about shaving my legs. Everyone who knows me knows it. In fact, my running joke is that I'll know it's real love when this is true:

It was entirely intentional to encapsulate "shamefully" in quotes. If there's one thing I'm vocal about, it's finding new ways to break down the social constructs imposed upon us and the associated shame that has us continuing to buy into them.

Social constructs and shame exist in all countries, actually. Take India, for example. People come in all shades of brown. Yet the message that's beat into everyone's heads and passed down to the next generation is the idea that only light skin ("fair skin") is beautiful. Frankly, all shades of skin are beautiful. But society doesn't agree. Look at the major Bollywood actresses -- the majority of them are light skinned. Parents tell their children to stay out of the sun, for fear of turning darker. There's a whole slew of products aimed at making skin lighter. "Fair and Lovely," anyone?

Here, bleach the shit out of and damage your skin with chemicals so you can be "lovely." Because who you are and what you look like right now won't land you the husband of your dreams. Let's "correct" your color so everyone, including yourself, can stop being offended by the way you look.

I'm not exaggerating -- look at the jargon used:
  • Treatment: Because your dark skin is a condition that needs to be "treated"
  • Targeting of skin tan: The melanin that protects you from skin cancer must be targeted and destroyed. 
  • Skin flaws: I can't even...
And as though bleaching the skin everyone sees isn't bad enough, there are products to target bleaching your delicate nether regions!

Oh, yes. Now even your lady parts aren't shame free! You should Google the commercial for it. It's absolutely appalling. The message is: "Your husband is avoiding you and won't sleep with you because your vagina, labia and thighs are the wrong color."

Back to the leg shaving. There's a whole industry devoted to the removal of hair from anywhere on our bodies. Razor blades, waxes, the art of threading, creams, aestheticians who will do the removal for you, laser hair removal, electrolysis... and I'm sure the list goes on. Why are we so obsessed with removing hair from our bodies? It's obviously evolutionary and therefore serves some sort of purpose (hey ladies, did you know that your pubes actually are meant to protect your girly bits from friction and STDs?). Children don't have hair on their legs, arms, faces, nether regions, etc. So is the removal of hair targeted at making us appear more youthful? Who are we kidding?

I find the hair removal process expensive or tediously time consuming. I've been single for most of my life, so it's not like anyone is seeing or touching these legs constantly. So sometimes I just don't shave. Hanging out in Canada means that it's "winter" most of the year (I'm Southern Californian; by my standards, any temperature below 60 degrees Fahrenheit is considered winter weather). Seriously. The temperature plummets in September and this continues through April at the earliest. In 2014, it continued through part of June. Naturally, the legs are covered up by pants or jeans for most of the year. Nobody's seeing them except me, so why bother?

Which brings us to today. I took a break from the Great White North to spend some time in a warm locale by the Pacific Ocean. With the intent of breaking down the leg hair social construct, I chose to conduct a little experiment. Did I mention I've traveled alone to a place where I know nobody? To describe me as "fuzzy" is a bit of an understatement, guvnah! These wooly gams haven't seen the likes of a razor blade since mid-January. We're currently at the start of April. Fresh off the plane, I taxied it to the place I'm renting (which is gorgeous, by the way!) and quickly changed into my short shorts and a tank top.

And I went into town. Every so often, I'd remember the legs and look around to see if anyone was staring. They weren't. Nobody cared about what my legs looked like. So I stopped caring. I ran a few errands and totally forgot that I was a teddy bear. Totally forgot that my pits look like I just stepped off a plane from France. I stopped into a beach-front restaurant to satisfy my craving for a margarita and chips w/ guac & salsa. The margarita glass was so big, I could have fit my entire face in it. It was nearly impossible to put a dent in it.

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And guess what? My legs and the hair on them were irrelevant. The music was loud, the beach was gorgeous, the margarita was taking forever to finish... What leg hair? Take that, society! Your silly messages about my body not being perfect the way it naturally is can braid my leg hair!

I woke up this morning and was excited to seize another day! I made my bed, headed over to my patio, took one look down at my thighs, smiled smugly and began to write.

Not two minutes later, I jumped up, grabbed my razor blade, and cleaned up camp.

*Shoulders slumped and my head hanging in shame because I gave into shame*

I'll get you next time, social constructs... next time!

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