Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Challenge

I'm going to try to push myself a bit here in the next few weeks or months. I'm doing what I affectionately call, "an experiment." And really it is. I got to thinking the other day, while I was in the shower. Sierra came in while I was shaving and said, "Mama? Why do you shave your legs?" I stumbled, stuttered and finally settled on, "because its just something girls do." It satisfied her, though she gave me a funny look. Then I realized what I had just done. I just told her that girls had to shave, "just because." And the sad thing is, I don't have a reason! As girls, are we taught that its right to shave? Proper? Unclean if we don't? I know for myself, I wanted to be like all the other girls I saw. I didn't want my legs hairy anymore because the other girls laughed at me. And of course, the underarm hair was next to go. It was years before I touched sissors or a razor to my pubic area. But boyfriends all made comments if I was stubbly at all anywhere. "Don't you think its time to shave!" and "Look who's got 5 o'clock shadow!"

Fast forward to today. I'm a grown woman who shaves because society says I must. Because people look at women who are hairy in disgust and horror. I'm glad to say that I am married to a man who loves me even when I'm all covered in stubble. Being hairy hasn't ever bothered him. So why, I ask myself... do I still shave? Conditioning? Habit? There isn't any personal reason why. I mean, sure being smooth feels nice. But for me that feeling smooth thing doesn't last more than a few hours. My hair growth is fast! And time? Who has time to shave every single day?! I sure don't with two kids.

And then there's the message that I'm sending to my daughter. The big ole double standard message. Yes, hair is beautiful but only when its on your head. Yes, men don't shave but women should. Why don't I just force her to play with dolls, and never wear pants?! That's NOT the type of mother I am!

So the challenge that I've given myself, is to not shave. Not my legs or my underarms. Who knows how long I can do it, but I am giving myself permission to still trim the pubic area and trimming in general is okay. I will even still pluck the one single stray "wisdom" hair that grows on my chin. But taking time out of my busy day, just to remain hairless will not happen anymore. Spring is approaching. Its getting warmer out. Can I withstand peoples looks? Will anyone even care? Have I made more out of it than it really is? Perhaps no one even cares about leg hair anymore. Or maybe its the underarm hair that will get the most looks. Either way, I thought long and hard about who I am as a person and a mother... and I didn't like the answer I gave my daughter. The next time she looks at my hairy legs, I hope to be able to tell her how much nicer it is to NOT shave. I want to share stories with her about how women long ago didn't shave and it was considered beautiful and mature. I want to create a positive role model for her. Not one wrapped up in arbitrary rules that society has laid out for us.

I've always marched to the beat of a slightly different drummer, but I never realized just how crunchy I really am until now. And it feels good. :-) I've never found a message board online that really felt "like home" until the other day. This one is definitely it.

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