A Woman’s Razor, a Tool of Oppression?

When I was young, I shaved my legs every day; EVERY day.  Spring, Summer, Autumn, AND Winter; every day.  The media told me that having smooth, moisturized, soft legs was an important part of being pretty – and as a teenager and young person I bought into it.  I believed the myth of beauty society fed me.

As I came into adulthood, I still shaved – though not with the same frequency.  I spent a great deal of my time as a young adult sick and in pain… pretty just wasn’t as important when you hurt so bad that you can’t get up and down stairs without dissolving into tears.  But I still shaved and moisturized.  It was part of being a girl.  We couldn’t have people thinking I actually grew hair on my legs.

Then I became a Mom.  And yes, even then I shaved my legs.  By then it was just one of those chores you do.  Going swimming?  Better shave.  Wearing shorts or a skirt?  Better shave.  Just part of the self-grooming routine.  Something I didn’t think about.  Something I did in a rather robotic fashion, another member of the trained masses.

I want my daughter to grow up knowing these things are choices – even if we don’t always feel they are.  Not all Women shave.  In some parts of the world it would seem odd to do so.  My daughter believed this until she was three.  Then one day she laughed, astonished, at the ridiculous notion that a Woman could choose not to shave.  That was the day I stopped shaving my legs.

Lily-Ann has other Women in her life who are non-shavers, my sister for one.  But clearly this was something she needed to see with more frequency.  It may seem like a small thing, but I needed her to know that we have a choice.  We don’t have to shave.  We don’t have to buy into the view of beauty that the media is selling, we can choose something different.

I may be the odd Woman out here in North America, sporting hairy legs all year long – without shame and, quite frankly, with a little pride.  And yes, it may seem like a strange thing to take a stand on…  but I couldn’t let my daughter grow up thinking she has no choice, that she has to go along with whatever ideals society sets before her.

She has options and choices.  We all do.

Sure, I could have kept on shaving – but she shocked me out of it.  Sometimes, that’s what we need.  Something to shock us out of that robotic state we get lulled into.  Something to bring us back into personhood.  A sudden splash of cold water, a bucketfull dumped on us while we lay half asleep, lounging in the sun.  Something to remind us we’re alive, and we have the right to make these seemingly small, seemingly insignificant, choices for ourselves.  And sometimes, those small choices end up being some of the biggest.

my hairy leg out in the sun

Out working in the yard, clearing away the Winter ick. My hairy leg enjoying the Spring sunshine.

About Tobi-Dawne

Tobi-Dawne Smith is many things to many people... photographer, canine behaviour expert, equal rights activist, green politician, lactivist, intactivist, writer, crafter, dog handler, third wave feminist, etc. But most important in her life is her role as mother to an amazing five year old. Learn more about TD at http://www.tobi-dawne.com/ follow her blog at https://td365.wordpress.com/ get to know her daughter at http://lilyannslemonade.wordpress.com/ or check out her work at http://tdphotography.me/

Posted on April 28, 2013, in Feminism, gender variant, iPhone, Just a Note, lgbt, LGBTTQ, Our World, Parenting, People, Politics, Wee Girlie and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Interesting how our children are the ones who dump the proverbial bucket of ice water on our heads. For you, it was shaving; for me it was permning my hair. I was in the process of relaxing my hair, and Diva, who was 5 or 6 at the time, asked my why I was doing it. I told her so my hair would look pretty. She asked, “pretty for who, Mommy?” That was the last chemical relaxer I ever put in my hair. From that point on, my hair has been natural, pressed, braided or dreaded.

    Interestingly enough, Diva is now a cosmetologist, and although she does plenty of perms for clients, she has never had one. I’d like to think my example had something to do with it, but who really knows. It will be interesting to see Lily-Ann’s approach regarding shaving as she gets older.

  2. Funnily enough it was not my oldest daughter, but my second daughter who had me re-evaluate my choices when it came to shaving. Her question when she was somewhere between the ages of 3 and 5 was “Why doesn’t Daddy shave his legs and under there?” (pointing under her arms) Since I had always tried to get my girls to see that they have the same choices as men – in many regards – it didn’t make sense that I should have to do what her father didn’t.
    I always found shaving a burdensome chore since I have fair, sensitive skin. I would end up with razor-burn and/or torn skin. It never mattered which razor I tried either. Use of shaving cream didn’t really help. The razor free chemical hair removers burned my skin, so they were out. After my daughters question, so were razors unless I wanted to shave for me.
    Now by daughters are teens and shave on their terms. This is a much cheaper option when it comes to replacing razor blades.

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