Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hair today, gone tomorrow?

Photo by Betssssssy on Flickr
Summer is here, and it is time to break out the tank tops, swim suits and other hot-weather survival gear...and maybe the razor?

This is a dilemma I face every summer season now. Oh, for the innocent days of my youth when I naively assumed that being able to shave was a cool part of being grown up. I actually liked the idea back then. Of course, that was a couple of decades ago. I also wore hose/tights at times then, and had sensory issues that made the prickle of hair underneath them absolutely awful. As I've grown, I've come to see pantyhose as a demonic device, much the way most people nowadays would view torture relics from the Inquisition, and have found my freedom.

I am somewhat ambivelent, however, about embracing life as a hirsute hippy. Now, since I've had kids, I've naturally progressed towards a more, er, natural lifestyle in many respects, anyway. We practice child-led weaning, cloth diaper, don't vaccinate or circ, and generally go along with many of the other tenets of those who appreciate the way our bodies are designed. When my oldest daughter asked me why I shaved my legs, I had no satisfactory answer.

I am not usually one to do things just because "everyone else" is doing it. Besides, I have enough friends in enough places to know that not everyone finds the absence of hair more attractive.

Despite my preference for natural childbirth, I am a total wimp and would never consider anything like waxing or any other form of hair removal that could possibly involve pain, however fleeting or minor. I am sensitive to the chemicals in dipilatories, so those are out. Which leaves only a razor, and I get razor burn easily.

Somehow, though, I admit to a mild asthetic preference for smooth, hairless skin. And, TMI perhaps, but I find it easier to smell fresh and ladylike without a ton of hair, also more of a consideration when it is 100+ degrees outside.

But, I am also lazy, and not inclined to shave daily, anyhow. And with three kidlets, time alone in the bathroom is rare enough that I don't want to commit to the upkeep.

So most of the time, I compromise. I shave under my arms frequently in summer, and occasionally but not always my knees and below if they will be visible/I plan on swimming.  I won't go into details about more personal areas except to say that the occasional trim with scissors is the most I'll do there (see previous comments on waxing, et al. Ouch! I crossed my legs just thinking of it).

Yet, as I consider items to pack for this summer's trip, I sigh inwardly and wonder why, and even if, I should bother to pack a razor. Would I feel differently if I had grown up in a culture where women didn't normally shave? It is interesting to think about all the little things that go into beauty rituals across time and place. Which ones are worth passing on to my daughter?


Blessed Mama said...

I'm a hippie in a lot of ways, but I don't think I could ever do hairy legs and armpits in the summer. Winter maybe, but I don't think my husband would go for that.

It was fun to see your mom and grandma this weekend, btw.

Polly said...

I am one of those creatures who *must* shave every day. There's no real reason for it, except that I just like the result. Waxing is best, though--and I have to say, and no one believes me, that I have never found it painful. Getting my legs waxed is RELAXING!!! One woman actually asked me if I'd had children before and whether I'd had an epidural b/c she could not believe I found it relaxing.

This is one of those 'social/gender' issues I used to always think about, and at the end of the day, my conclusion was always the same--I just like smooth legs (and underarms). It may have been forced on my by my culture but I love it just the same.

ah well.

Maria said...

Well, I'm not much of a shaver, I admit that. I try to remember to shave if I am going swimming and wearing a tank top, but the rest of the time? Not so much. And in the interest of TMI, I once had a brazilian and LOVED it. Not having it done, but the result. However, I refuse to commit the time and money to maintain one, so I am also a scissors user...and of course clean up the bikini line for swimming. :)

Michelle said...

I stopped shaving in my southern region when I got bacterial cysts from exposing the hair follicles while shaving. Since then I've not really liked the idea of shaving at all - after all it does seem like if God put it there perhaps it has a purpose. But I've stopped shaving pits and legs since having a baby. I'm still a little insecure about it, but I've noticed things. I feel stronger and more complete. My pits don't smell as much OR sweat as much with hair (I DO trim there, but leave it about an inch long). My baby loves playing with it. It might seem gross...but there's something so cute about it! I'm coming into my own and feeling more confident about it. Plus I love that there's just one less thing to fuss over and be insecure about. :)

dulce de leche said...

I really enjoy hearing your perspectives on this. Thanks so much for the comments!