A couple weeks ago, I got into a huge debate with my parents. They were annoyed because I didn’t want to shave my legs. I was annoyed because I didn’t want to. I’ll present this like a court case.
My parents’ side: I should shave my legs because it is hygienic and people will cast negative judgments on me if I do not.
My side: I shouldn’t feel pressure to shave because if people judge me based on the hair on my legs, then they aren’t worth my time. Also I just don’t feel like it sometimes.
So, onto the evidence. My mom says I should shave because it’s hygienic. But I feel just as clean with hair on my legs as I do without. It’s kind of like if you had hair on your arms. On the other hand, some women love the feeling of freshly shaved legs against their sheets, and I am also all for that.
Here’s where the argument gets tricky, though- a slippery slope, if you will. My dad brought up the point that if I walked into a prestigious law firm, for instance, looking for a job, my interviewer might take a look at my furry legs and make assumptions based on them. Although this may not be morally right, it has a level of truth to it. They may immediately think I’m unprofessional. There are certain looks and standards that clients may expect, and I wouldn’t be meeting those expectations with my unprofessional looking legs. And the firm needs the clients to stay in business. Maybe I would be hired if I shaved my legs to seem more competent, which presents the argument: Should I indulge in a standard that I don’t necessarily believe in if it will help me get a job? I think no, as long as I’m not harming anyone with my choices, I should be able to express my body however I want without people treating me differently.
Some women feel like shaving their legs is an obligation because it is what we have been doing for a long, long time. My best friend Elaina (who stopped shaving sometime last year) remembers when she began to shave around seventh grade, and it seemed to her “a requirement rather than a choice.” She, and most girls, don’t grow up seeing leg hair on most women, which makes shaving seem like a standard one would have to fit.
In ancient Greece, having no body hair was a symbol of status. The first time women were pressured to shave was in the 1900s, when there was an Anti-Underarm Hair campaign. Sleeveless dresses were becoming a trend and ads were popping up urging women to get rid of armpit hair. Around World War II, there was a shortage of nylon, meaning no stockings. Women started shaving their legs in order to be deemed socially acceptable while they were walking around.
My verdict: do what you want! I actually normally do shave, although the one time I didn’t was when my parents noticed. If you want to let it grow (Lorax style), then let it grow! But you might just have to deal with the unfortunate fact that some people are not yet open minded about leg hair. Hopefully one day people can do what they want with their bodies (as long as it doesn’t harm or inhibit the people around you) without negative consequences, but I think we’re on our way.