|Photo by Betssssssy on Flickr
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?