Why The Hell Do We Still Shave Our Legs In 2015?

It's time consuming, dries our legs out, and blokes don't do it - so why are we still shaving?

Why The Hell Do We Still Shave Our Legs In 2015?

by Helen Nianias |
Published on

As if someone who rides enormous hotdogs on stage didn’t already have enough on their CV to make them a modern day feminist hero, Miley Cyrus won over my heart and mind last week. By posting a picture of her hairy armpits, she put into action that abstract idea that you can present your body however you like.

I have a 'confession' that some people find shocking, but I think is utterly normal. I don’t shave my armpits or legs, and have one annual Brazilian wax before I go on holiday. That is normally the worst bit of my summer as it gives me a horrible rash of ingrown hairs, so I spend half of every August on a beach, covering my crotch with a book. The pain and embarrassment around my crotch is much worse than the looks my hirsuite ankles get on the Tube, or the double-takes my armpits get. I’ll take my mousy-brown fuzz over a swarm of pustules, but thanks anyway.

Hair removal has long seemed to me like a monumentally pointless faff. The average woman is estimated to spend £8,000 in her lifetime on hair removal, and 72 whole days getting rid of the stuff. That’s 1,782 hours.

Think what you could do with that time. That’s 24 long weekends away, 1,728 episodes of The Wire, 871 viewings of Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, or 576 screaming arguments with your partner. And what do you get out of it? Cuts around your ankles and fleetingly smooth skin that turns to grainy stubble overnight.

Why have we bought wholesale – with our money and time and emotions – into the idea that we are not good enough as we are?

Getting rid of your body hair isn’t part of the same physical politeness as, say, wearing smart clothes for work. It’s not a hygiene issue, either, as so many of my friends tell me. If it’s not unclean for men to have hairy armpits or legs then how is it dirty for a woman to collect fluff?

The argument that it’s unsightly as women wear skimpier clothing is losing traction too. Those plunging summer vests men wear give less and less coverage every summer. Sometime around 2020 they will just be made out of fishnet. And yet guys are still allowed to be furry. Lads, I’m calling bullshit on this one, but I do like your vests.

The point is that something, somewhere has gone very wrong. We’ve been conned into thinking that we need to spend our most precious resources on pretending that we don’t have hair all over our bodies.

Even reading the back cover of Naomi Woolf’s seminal feminist book The Beauty Myth will explain why it is in the interest of companies to pressure you into doing this. By making out that there’s something shameful, or 'unfeminine' about body hair on a woman, they’re guilting us into giving them our money. Last year Veet won “crassest summer campaign” by showing women with hairy armpits as transforming into burly blokes in front of the men they fancy. The firm pulled the advert, but I don’t see why we can’t actively enjoy our hairy legs.

The tumblr is super-inspiring, and shows that not everybody thinks that razor-shy women are actually men. Look at Patti Smith on the Easter album cover for further inspiration, and to know that it is 'feminine' to be hairy.

Not only do we save a tonne of money on moisturiser by not shaving, but we can also get genuine pleasure out of it. The sensation of the wind blowing through it, the slight friction when you pull on a pair of tights, rubbing your legs against your duvet and feeling how soft everything is. Women deserve to experience the full range of experiences the world has to offer them, and I don’t think that shaming them into spending their extra cash and time to be the wipe-clean object of an ad man’s fantasy frees us up to do all the things we truly enjoy. Even if that thing is watching Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants 871 times.

Helen Nianias is deputy People editor of The Independent online

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Follow Helen on Twitter @Helennianias

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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