Femininity, Hair, Media, Sweet Machine, You've Got to Be Kidding Me

Your hairy legs could be mass murderers even now

In the spirit of “Obese blamed for world’s ills” comes this little ad video that shows what happens if you fail to shave your legs to absolute smoothness every single day: utter chaos. Not only will dudes be grossed out, but they could DIE! Here’s the link: click “watch film” to see what I mean.

Look, ladies, here’s how it is: even if you’re white and thin and traditionally feminine, and you wore your sandals and your cute sundress with the cleavage and you have no problem with your boyfriend groping you on public transit, if you forgot or, heaven forfend, chose not to shave the invisible stubble from your legs, YOU HAVE DOOMED ALL AROUND YOU TO MISERY. A woman may be pinned on her back under a stranger (god, it’s almost like you WANT her to be assaulted), and a perfectly innocent man who just wants to enjoy his perfectly healthy apple despite the fact that you’re not really supposed to eat on the bus will choke almost to death AND THEN EVERYONE WILL GLARE AT YOU AND YOU WILL GET A TEXT MESSAGE FROM YOUR FUTURE SELF OR SOMETHING I DON’T KNOW.

Here’s the thing: this ad would be kinda cute, in its Rube Goldberg-esque way, if it didn’t start from the premise that all women should be available to groping by men at all times. No matter how much you doll yourself up, if there is any part of you that is not sufficiently hairless and smooth, you are persona non grata in terms of beauty. Stubble turns you from a hot chick into a chick so disgusting that men actually leap away from you. You’ve ruined everything by failing to meet the endlessly exacting standards of beauty, which you can only hope to meet by buying our extra-fancy new razor or beauty creme or undergarment.

And remember, even if you look hairless, since your body is available to be groped at any time, your True Hairlessness is subject to scrutiny. If you are cursed with thick body hair, or dark hair against pale skin, you should probably just carry your fancy-ass razor along with you at all times, since your stubble might be noticeable under fluorescent light or when caressed by a (male) baby.

Because I am, as you know, a humorless feminist and a noted misanthropist, I am about to do something that is so dangerous to the fate of dudes everywhere, it will probably cause the dystopian women-only future that right-wingers have nightmares about. I live in Chicago, where it fucking snowed this morning, which should give you a sense of how many months it’s been since I showed my bare legs in public. Also, I am a very pale white woman with dark, thick hair. By now, you’ve sensed what’s coming: tell the menfolk to hide in the storm cellar lest they catch a glimpse of this, my real leg:

Behold: My hairy damn leg
Behold: My hairy damn leg

I have not shaved in WEEKS. Sometime I go the whole winter without shaving at all, and then I have what I think of as a Deforestation Session in March or April. It’s odd; I’ve lived with a man for six years, but he’s never mentioned the horrible chains of events that must happen to him every day because of my hirsute natural state. He must be suffering in silence, the poor thing.

This is what the beauty ideal is designed to erase: the reality of our bodies. This is what is so scary to proponents of fancy razors, diet pills, fake tans, and all that bullshit: the fact that women have hair on their bodies, just like they’re people or something. Some women are fat and some are thin. Some women have straight swingy hair and some have kinky hair and some have frizzy hair and some just stick what they’ve got in a damn ponytail. Some women have big pillowy lips and some don’t. Some women have curves and some have rolls and some have both and some have neither. Women, just like men, live in human bodies, and human bodies are incredibly diverse. We all know that, even the most brainwashed of us: but we also know we’re not supposed to know it. If we all just said that women are real people — if we said that out loud — what on earth might happen?

Chaos would ensue. Dudes might be harmed.

(Via Feministing.)

141 thoughts on “Your hairy legs could be mass murderers even now”

  1. I think this is a very feiminist ad. Is it not obvious? The woman deliberately sharpened her leg hairs and applied stonefish venom to the tips. When the guy groped her legs against her will (she was pushing his hands away) he was forced to flee in excruciating pain, which serves him jolly well right.

    Any other interpretation would be simply ridiculous.

  2. oh let’s hope so!

    I felt a bit sick after watching this. It’s a very unpleasant and blatant attempt to tell women that anything below Barbie doll smoothness is JUST NOT ON. It must be a W*lk*inson Sword thing- their British advert for their sooper dooper new double ended fanny shaver is on and involved various lissom lovelies gliding past shrubberies, which go from their natural state (nice) to a manufactured uniformity (scary).

    Homogeniety is the name of th’ game, gals…

  3. Yeah, the mow the lawn video is horrifically misogynistic. Don’t talk about pubic hair! Use metaphors! Also, don’t have pubic hair! Only have a nicely trimmed patch of decorative something where it used to be!



  4. Yeah, the pubic hair one is definitely gross, too. It’s interesting how there are no men in that one; it just focuses on how great you’ll feel when unburdened by that pesky pubic hair.

  5. You know what’s disturbing? I watched this and was horrified at the way they were imprisoning women within a ridiculously high-maintenance and restricted vision of beauty (if you don’t shave your legs every day you shouldn’t even get out of bed and are NOT WORTHY OF LIFE), but at the same time I can see how someone (a woman, a man, whoever) could watch this and not be horrified at all. Just think it’s a harmless joke. And then proclaim that if they’re not disturbed, it must be because there isn’t anything to be disturbed about. (I believe Kate’s already written about a variant of this phenomenon: http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2008/04/racism-fatigue.html) So the whole time I was watching, I was getting angry at an imaginary opponent who was telling me there was nothing to be upset about here. It seems being angry at the razor company/their ad agency just wasn’t enough. :)

  6. My legs are dutifully shaved this morning (well, shaved from a couple days ago, I’m “blessed” with fine hair that grows slowly) but I covered them up in softball socks and jeans. I’m not hairy but my legs are protected from unwanted male gaze/touch. Please help me humorless feminists, I don’t know if I’m hurting the menz or not!

  7. Yeah that other ad, I couldn’t decide if the blatant sexism or the blatant racism pissed me off more.

  8. When I was 13, my mom saw me shaving my legs and yelled, “Don’t do that! If you start shaving, your hair will get rough and you can’t stop shaving!” So I stopped. I never got hairy, and I never really had to shave at all until I turned 29, and only my ankles got hair on them. But you really can’t see the hair unless you press your face on my ankle.

    I can’t think of one person who would want to be groped while riding public transit, myself included, unless the gropers were from certain shows on the BBC.

  9. I’m almost glad this is a UK advert, because it means I might be in a position to deface a “Did you shave your legs today?” poster. Perhaps I’ll bung a magic marker in my handbag just in case. Any suggestions? I was thinking of something devastatingly witty like “No, fuck off”.

  10. Oh, for double-fuck’s sake. Body hair is not something that I overtly politicize around, but I haven’t shaved legs or pits since 1988, and as one of my dancers pointed out yesterday, that’s as long as she’s been alive, so clearly I am old school about it. I am naturally blond, but owing to my PCOS-ness, I am noticeably furrier than some men on my arms and legs (and fingers and toes!). I rock the miniskirts in summer with no stockings, and the garterbelts on stage with my furry thighs all exposed, and rub my legs up and around my partner at night, and I have NEVER let anyone tell me “eww”.

    Not that there is anything particularly virtuous one way or another about this, because it really comes down to texture and preference. Like, I know some women who really really just like to feel their own smooth skin. But again, when the dominant culture is telling us that only one texture (or size or shape or color or gender or….) is appropriate to prefer, then those of us taking that option owe it to ourselves to just, you know, re-examine it from time to time.

  11. This past weekend, I shaved my legs for the first time in several months just because I was going to go swimming for the first time in a long while. Since I managed to slice up my leg a bit, it’ll be a while before I shave again!

  12. My husband claims to love hair, all hair. I love that man.

    So, I only shave my legs once in a while, mostly when I’m going to my ob-gyn or the beach.

  13. Heh, Bree, it’s great you were actually encouraged not to shave as a teen, but I’m pretty sure that’s an old wives’ tale! If you had shaved and then stopped and let it grow back in, you’d have had the same hair coverage you had when you never shaved to start. Your follicles don’t care whether or not you’re shaving.

    Yeah, bigmovesbabe – shaving is one of my more major concessions to the patriarchy and I know that’s what it is, but occasionally I let the hair grow to challenge myself about it and make sure I think about it. And I never shave (and never have shaved) more than once a week, because good god, who can be bothered??

    Both of those ads are so infuriating that now I will rebelliously not shave for a little while. Schick and Wilkinson will TOTALLY be aware of my boycott, even though I use Gillette razors. In the U.S.

  14. Kathy, I am now mostly healed from a shaving injury from a week ago. Which I managed to give myself while I was just holding the razor, not actively shaving. I have skillz.

  15. So, I only shave my legs once in a while, mostly when I’m going to my ob-gyn or the beach.

    The ob-gyn? Really?? Man, I show up to the doctor SO hairy. I kind of on principle don’t want to be sexually attractive to doctors, you know? The beach, though, that I sometimes do.

  16. okay, wow, and I just went over and watched the mow-the-lawn commercial. That is APPALLING. Tulips? Holding a hairy kitty on her lap at the beginning, and a hairless variety at the end? WTF?

    My lawn is full of wild grasses and some weedy flowers, maybe herbs in a pot along the path, probably a couple of feral cats (hairy and mean looking) stalking mice, and it also has some soft bits, so it is a nice place to hang out and get comfy at night, but only if you know your way around it already. What is your lawn like?

  17. *snicker*

    *snicker snicker*

    The dude? White. The razor? Pink. The concept? Patriarchal (unless subverted, as Miss Prism has done.)

    And the name of the razor? Sword

    Tee hee hee hee hee hee hee. Yes, ladies, discipline your bodies with a pink sword! *dies*

  18. I just left my comments, on THEIR website, telling them that this ad was offensive, and did they really think it was a good idea to insult their taget market.

    I’m in Canada, but Wilkinson Sword is an international company, so I am as much a potential buyer of their product as anyone. (Though, I haven’t shaved my legs in something like 15 years.)


    Have at them!

  19. Hum. I haven’t shaved my legs in… two years? And the boyfriend just shaved his for the first time last weekend, for a bike race (it’s some odd bike-racey-subculture thing, I dunno). The end of the world should be coming along and minute now, right?

    And really, if not shaving is all it takes not to get groped by anyone who comes by, sign me up.

  20. Thanks Bev – I’ve emailed them commending the young lady in the advert on her resourcefulness and asking where I can buy a leg hair sharpener and a phial of curare. I’ll let you know if they reply!

  21. I have NEVER shaved my legs, and I don’t think I ever will. And I work all summer at an outdoor camp, which are full of leg-baring things like shorts and *gasp* swimsuits! Never has anyone pointed at my legs and said anything negative. In fact, a lot of the other counselors are jealous that I don’t have to try to shave my legs in the tiny camp showers.

  22. Dear god. That kind of crap is just evil, and makes me wish I were more strident about keeping all my damn leg hair. As it stands, I have a complicated compromise that involves using an epilady to thin out the hair on my legs without obliterating it – I’ve internalized enough of the ‘visible hair + skirts = not visually appealing’ message so that full-on hair isn’t comfortable for me, but I also HATE that I’ve internalized said message, so don’t want to capitulate fully. Years of being fully hairy were fine as far as partners and the like, but now that my style has changed, I just haven’t found a less hippie aesthetic that works *for me* with hairy legs.

    Sigh. This is making me realize that I need to get back on attacking this internalized Beauty Statute – what a fucked up world we live in, eh?

  23. Yes, this ad is awful. But does it really contend that women must be available for groping at all times?

    Ladies (and gents! hey!) who shave know that the day you shave is lovely, the day after is maybe a little dicey, and the following short while is pricklesville. I hate that time. I’d totally push my SO’s hand away and not want to volunteer why. Once my stubble is allowed to grow out a bit, though, the horrible prickles are gone and I don’t care.

    I think it’s okay to dislike those raspy few days, because it’s the payoff after having done something essentially unnatural to my body. But the ad, at its mildest, contends that stubble is SO AWFUL that those who encounter it will freak RIGHT OUT and flail uncontrollably, so we should fear and hate it. People, it’s texture. Deal.

  24. That was… a really, really stupid ad.

    What was with the guy with the apple? OMG, I can’t eat my apple because that guy didn’t listen to his gf not to grope her on the bus and he did and was shocked to discover that women have HAIR! BLAAA HOLY SHIT what happened?! I thought that was her… what, vagina? I mean, this guy clearly needs to go back to Anat and Phys and this time not sleep through it.

    If he’s that gropey-gropey with her, and she’s that permissive about it, I would think he’d have discovered the nature of her status as a mammal before the bus ride… rather, one would imagine that any guy who understands a woman has breasts would perhaps be able to suss out the fact that hair goes with that… even my boyfriend who has really, er, unexplored patriarchal ideals when it comes to looks, doesn’t give a fig whether I shave (though it does amuse him to compare female body hair to brillo, why I’ve no idea since, like man hair, it only feels rough when it’s really short… oddly he doesn’t seem to notice mine when I rub my legs all over him, so how could it be brillo-y?).

    So, one day, which was like, I dunno two days ago or something, I was thinking, “what if I was hot? I mean really, really hot? What would I look like? What would I want to look like?”

    I was gratified to realize I’d want to look like me, only have other people think “wow, that’s really hot!”

    I would like to note I was thinking that even though my legs were hairy at the time.

    I would also like to note that nobody exploded or anything in the room even though my legs were hairy– well, my mouse fell off her exercise wheel but she does that a lot.

    Also, my dog has really, really hairy legs but everybody talks about how cute she is.

    So clearly, ad is fail.

  25. I haven’t shaved since mid-December. I’m toying with the idea of never shaving again it’s so goddamn freeing. There are no leg acrobatics. I can actually ENJOY my baths. And it’s fun to see what pattern the hair grows in! For example, the sides of my legs are nearly hairless while the fronts and backs are quite amply covered. When I take a bath, the hair moves around, just a tad, like gorgeous seaweed (also one of my favorite things about my head hair). And no more spending $10 for a package of 4 razors. I mean, ffs people. I am not a rich woman.

  26. Wait, why is the woman the one looking embarrassed at the end? She looked uncomfortable with the public feeling-up being foisted upon her the whole time.

    If it was me, I’d be all pointing at my busy-handed boyfriend and yelling “This nitwit was groping me in public! Thank him for the wreck and your near death experiences!”

    But then I guess that wouldn’t shame women and sell razors. Silly me. Thinking of women as actual human beings deserving of respect.

  27. And, A Sarah, I find that concept insulting! I would not discipline myself with a pink sword! My sword is blue, vibrates, and only gets taken out when I’ve been a very GOOD girl.

    *cough* Did I type that out loud?

    …you betcher sweet hairy legs I did. ;D

  28. Yeah, that’s about what my legs look like too. I started shaving again about a month ago because I’m job hunting, but then I ran out of shaving cream and I have not bestirred myself to buy more because I really don’t give a shit about it.

  29. I should mention that before I started shaving “again”, I hadn’t shaved since last June. And also! That that’s how long my armpit hair is, too. ‘Cause…I don’t give a shit.

  30. Misogynistic fuckwaddery.

    And this is why I haven’t shaved, plucked, or removed hair from any part of my body in the past four years.

    I take great pleasure in yelling “SHAVE YOUR OWN” at the men so far that have commented on my hairy legs and pits [loudly, in public places. Always loudly and in public], and “MY BODY, NOT YOURS” at the occasional woman.

  31. I haven’t shaved, any area of my body, since 1988. It’s amazing there is a man left alive in the world at this point. I’m with sparklepants, it’s fun! Freeing, in both the financial and the emotional sense. Not to mention the time it takes; I have WAY better things to do with my time.

    I realize that this can come across as “I’m better than you” to people who still make the choice to shave, which is not my intent at all. I just hate the incredible pressure for everyone to be ONE WAY, not to mention the infantalization of grown up women into “babysoft smoothness.” I’m a grown woman.

  32. @rowmyboat: Once on a club bicycle ride someone told me to shave my legs so I could go faster. (Instead of, you know: “strength training to build endurance” or “try buying a bicycle not made out of steel” or even “I’d be happy to hang out with you at the back of the pack and chat.” )

    I get that it makes a difference for truly competitive racers and swimmers, but I am neither of those and this was a leisure ride. So I replied, “I should spend a half-hour shaving so I can get to work 30 seconds faster? That math doesn’t work for me.”

    On the plus side, it saved me from wasting more time trying to fit in with the group and enabled me to quit sooner.

  33. Huh. I got one of those razors for free – they passed out a few hundred at my college and I took one. it doesn’t work well; leaves more stubble than the cheapo 5 for a buck razors I usually use. So, even by their own standards, fail.
    And that ad is despicable. MissPrism, maybe if you see one of those posters you could glue a merkin to it? :)

  34. I didn’t shave for… oh, probably five years or so, but I’ve recently started again. I just prefer the feel of smooth skin, and I want to try wearing skirts and I’m not interested in the hassle that comes with my thick, dark-on-pale-skin, luxuriously curly leg hair being on display. But I admit that I hate it.

    If I could just wish it away and have it never come back? I would, and wouldn’t think twice about it. But the leg-shaving acrobatics coupled with a big belly and a bad back are horrible, and it pisses me off every time I do it that it’s socially necessary if I don’t want to be harassed.

  35. I guess I was blessed with blonde arm/leg hair, I only shave it if I’m gonna be having sex with someone new or if I’m going to the doctor for my knees.

    I think the thing that pissed me off the most about this ad is how utterly ashamed the girl looks at the end. Look! You should be ashamed of yourselves! are you proud of what you did?! Your body is horrible! …now buy our product.

    great idea. shame people into thinking your product is the only way for them to feel good about themselves.

  36. I don’t understand the belief that shaven = smooth and unshaven = unsmooth. Whenever I have shaved my legs, my skin got very dry and frictiony. I haven’t shaved this millennium, and my legs feel as soft and smooth as the proverbial baby’s derriere. It’s insane that I’m expected to give up my time and money and comfort because of some deluded notion that body hair is “gross” (and especially so on women).

  37. I haven’t removed any hair from my body in about three years, save the bits growing from the crown of my head. It actually makes me feel a whole lot freer- some guy won’t sleep with me or date me because of my body hair? Fine. Sounds like a mutually beneficial agreement to me.

  38. I just get so riled watching her move this guys hand and him going back to groping her. UHM HELLO!! She said don’t do that? Anyone? Bueller?

    I only shave when I’m wearing a skirt because I never wear pantyhose. But I can never wear skirts because it is never going to stop snowing in this freaking city.

    It’s too bad the weather wont respond to community action. I bet Chicagoans could write some really angry letters.

  39. The part where she pushed his hand away and he went on to grope her anyway made me very uncomfortable. As Cara pointed out at Feministe, that’s sexual assault.

    My fiance watched the ad with me and asked: “So, how do you feel about causing bus accidents?” I replied: “If you caused a bus accident by groping me after I tried to stop you and then becoming horrified at my leg hair, I would be very pissed off.”

  40. Shinobi, that bit really got to me too. Especially when he just straight away shrugs it off and heads back down. That just reinforces the message to every douchebag out there that really, it IS ok if he carries on.

  41. My husband really, truly, honestly cannot tell the difference between my shaved legs and un-shaved legs, unless he looks (or it’s the nasty-prickly day, which I generally avoid by not shaving).

    I know I shaved ’em for my wedding reception, but I can’t remember the last time I shaved after that (Nov. 2008). They sort of look like the above picture, except my skin’s a few shades darker and the hair is a smidge lighter.

    The sexual-assault thing bothered me, like FJ, at least as much if not more than the embedded beauty-standards thing.

  42. DISCLAIMER: I have not seen the ads yet (apparently adobe and RIM have some east coast-west coast beef type thing going on that I’m unaware of), but will soon.

    As a fellow Chicagoan, shaving my legs (which I’ve never done or even felt the need to, actually) is this side of useless. Shaved myself downstairs just for kicks, and willingly shave my ‘pits when it’s actually warm here (just for sleeveless tops). Right now I’m just shaving the sideburns. Barring all that, I don’t feel any differently about myself, nor have any men been harmed by my body hair (or the occasional lack thereof). These companies really are stupid. Huh. [Kaz, I’d like to borrow ‘misogynistic fuckwaddery’ for a while.]

  43. Over the weekend i was watching “One-Hit Wonders of the 80’s” on VH-1, having a grand old time reliving the music of my youth, until a bunch of guys made a HUGE deal about nena 9she of “(( Luftballons” fame.) First, of course, all they could talk about was how smokin’ hot she was, but then she did the unthinkable and raised her arms…

  44. I no longer shave my legs or ‘pits. And, while I am blonde, I come from beefy, hairy stock, so my ‘pit hair is quite visible if I wear anything with a cap sleeve, poking out all tuft-like.

    I still um… “trim” my crotch, though. Mainly because I find it inconvenient and quite painful to get a couple of little stragglers caught in my tights, and I need the tights for comfort. Also, my vag gushes like the bleeding Thames when I’m on, and that shit is nasty when it gets soaked into your hairy bits.

    Not that this could possibly be TMI or anything…


    Take that, Wilkinson’s!

  45. …Sorry, didn’t mean to post yet. Anyway, she had hairy armpits, and all these same guys were HORRIFIED!!!!!!!
    I just wanted to yell at ’em to fuckin’ grow a pair and get over it!!!! When was the last time they shaved their hairy pits?!?!?! Really, are their sensibilities THAT delicate?

    (And that sentence above is supposed to read: “Nena, she of ’99 Luftballons ‘ fame.)

  46. Once on a club bicycle ride someone told me to shave my legs so I could go faster. (Instead of, you know: “strength training to build endurance” or “try buying a bicycle not made out of steel” or even “I’d be happy to hang out with you at the back of the pack and chat.” )

    The boyfriend is a little more enlightened than most, and willfully admits that it’s mostly just an in-group, show-offy thing. Cause it highlights your calf muscles better or something. He’s an amateur, cat. 4, only been racing about a year. This is not le Tour, ya know, and even then, what? It’ll get you a whole second or two per stage? And for time trials, they wear full-body suits anyway, so the legs hairs aren’t blowing in the wind.

  47. Oh god, trimming the short and curlies is a necessity I couldn’t go without. Nothing quite like sitting in a job interview and thinking ‘there is a pube caught in my knicker elastic, I should have trimmed that when I showered…’

    Nail scissors though, as opposed to anything sharp. The thought of putting harsh chemicals or razor blades anywhere near my genitalia has always scared the hell out of me.

  48. Okay, just caught them both on yt. WHAT?! May I please trouble someone for a clue by four? NOW I’m pissed!

    Yah, dumbass, if she says no and you persist, there ARE consequences and repercussions; making the bus run through a billboard is the VERY LEAST of your worries, pal, ESPECIALLY in my neck of the woods! Also, uh…not all sistas have a bigassed ‘fros in their panties to be mowed down (at least that’s what I surmised in the ad). I…I can’t, dude. RUFKM?! GTFOH!!

  49. Kaz, you would be wise to stick to your guns and keep using the nail scissors. I tried ordinary household scissors once, got distracted and…

    I didn’t trim again for a while, after that.

    And Raine, I caught that not-so-subtle racism too. The black girl has a big bush, the Asian girl has teeny-tiny one. Yeahhhhhh… no squicky stereotyping, here!

    Also, that whole run/trot thing? WTF is up with that?

  50. Maybe that’s why they call it a TANK top… You can crush whole buildings with that pit hair, and shoot Tony Stark out of the sky.

  51. “I can’t think of one person who would want to be groped while riding public transit, myself included, unless the gropers were from certain shows on the BBC.”

    I WAS groped on public transit by a complete stranger, but since you know, I had the excuse of it being December in Sweden for not shaving my legs, I was lucky to even have a dude wanting to squeeze my hairy hairy thighs through my jeans. *giant giant eyeroll*

    The second commercial is just… whoa. I definitely do not get that way about “mowing my lawn”. I really don’t enjoy shaving the pubs, I only use hair removal for the bikini line when I’m going swimming because getting them caught in the elastic when I’m trying to swim is just blah. But I’m working on trying to make the switch to all bathing suits with boyshort bottoms so that won’t be as much of an issue anymore. But since I haven’t been swimming in…. like two years, my lawn right now is getting pretty “wild”. Probably a few dear are starting to live in the tall grasses.

  52. And this anti-hairy legs thing is so culturally based, you know?

    In college I did maintenance stuff on campus in the summers. I worked with many students from other countries. Some of the guys suggested to us that we shouldn’t agonize over shaving our legs, that hairy legs were VERY sexy in their culture.

    But none of the girls were able to just let it go and stop shaving. I’ve stopped since then except on the hottest of summer days, but back then I wasn’t ready yet.

    When your appearance is already politically incorrect (fat, not traditionally pretty), you may feel more pressured to follow rules like these, even if you think they are the stupidest thing on God’s green earth.

    Frankly, I think the “hairless” ideal is pretty creepy, almost like catering to pedophiles. Ugh.

  53. I thought the reason the woman was so embarrassed at the end of the commercial was because she realized what a complete douchebag her boyfriend is and was ashamed to be seen in public with him.

  54. I’ve never shaved any hair on my body in my life, but when I was a teenager this was because I thought that being fat made me so unattractive that there was no point in trying to conform to any conventional standards of beauty in any other way. Then loving myself happened, and it figures I love the hair, too – which is good, because I’ve got quite a lot of it! I’m now kind of looking forward to it being warm enough that I can flaunt it.

  55. Oh dear, good old British sexism, can’t say I miss that.

    I do shave my legs quite often but I do not shave my snatch to be all bare and shiny (sorry, totally shaved snatch makes me think of Barbies so I’m thinking hard plastic), and I’m sure they must have an equally annoying ad for that too. And…yep, so they do. Actually the OMG PUBIC HAIR NO ad has less implied violence but is possibly even more annoying, what with the “look I have an actual pussy sitting on my lap, I wonder what that symbolises, tee hee” element.

    Also LOL pink sword. My razor is green but I sometimes borrow my husband’s, which is blue. Does this mean that he’s appropriately gender conforming or that his nether regions have hypothermia? Ironically, he’s the one in our household who shaves all his pubic hair off, cause he just happens to like it that way.

  56. RE The stubbly leg/unwanted groping ad, the subliminal message I took away was “The only possible reason a woman might have to reject being groped is that she’s embarrassed about not fully complying with beauty standards, poor girl. Isn’t it great that we have a solution for that? Buy Wilkinson Sword today!”

  57. @volcanista. I know, right? I really can’t explain it myself. I always get gussied up for all my dr’s appts, like I’ll wear make up and nice clothes too which isn’t like me.

    I think it’s kind of defense mechanism to how vulnerable I feel in the doctors office with my weight, disrobing, talking about my body etc. It’s like my way of trying to prove that I’m not as fat and disgusting as you think I am.

  58. My legs could take down entire countries. I don’t shave (what, a time-consuming and boring beauty ritual that will make me imperceptibly less completely unacceptable and also makes my legs itch?), and compared to a friend who doesn’t shave, my leg hair is much darker and thicker. And, I never let it get bleached out in the sun because that would allow it to explode people’s eyes with its toxic acid, so the skin is pale and the hair is dark.

  59. I can’t afford disposable razors anymore. Whoever designed the damn things was clearly not thinking of the fact that a woman’s legs and other shaveable areas are just a lot more real estate than a man’s face. Damn things dull out on me after one use, it was just too expensive to buy them every time we went shopping.

    I don’t feel all that liberated, but it is nice not to worry about razor bumps in my armpits.

  60. My skin is uncomfortably dry whether I shave or not, I was disappointed to learn. I hoped that would improve when I stopped, but no, not so much. And sometimes if I’m walking briskly or a certain pair of pants is sitting tightly on a particular day, hair on my legs causes painful chafing. It’s weird. Not that it motivates me to shave more often, but it’s a lot better when I shave. And put on lotion. I need to be better about the lotion.

  61. I am reminded of the time that a bunch of us from high school Youth Orchestra (behold, a geek) , including a male German exchange student, were hanging out at a local amusement park. One of us had a bandaid on her leg, and said, when asked, that she’d cut herself shaving.

    The German guy stopped in his tracks and said, “That’s disgusting! You shave your legs?”

    We didn’t give him much grief, since there were a few of us who didn’t shave, but one of us asked him whether he’d ever noticed that most of us did actually have hairless legs and how he thought we managed this.

    He shrugged and said, “I thought American girls just don’t have much hair.”

    That we gave him grief for.

    Hey, we were in high school.

  62. Godless Heathen, I think that is exactly what they were planning when they designed disposable lady-razors. Or started marketing them to ladies, anyway. See also: rinse, lather, repeat, buy more shampoo, ad infinitum.

  63. I haven’t shaved my legs or armpits in at least ten years. I’ve never shaved my pubic hair. I live at the beach, wear dresses all the time without tights, wear a bathing suit, perform onstage in a family-friendly venue with my leg hair showing. I’ve had three kids and let my OB and midwife see all my leg, pit and pubic hair. My husband has a beard. Most of my male friends have beards. I guess I just like hair.
    But my real point is this: if anyone has ever been disgusted or damaged by seeing my body hair, I’ve managed to be oblivious. I honestly don’t know how people react. It’s just HAIR, for heaven’s sake! How upset could they be?

  64. I was just about to head upstairs so I could shave my legs– I have a podiatrist appt. tomorrow for the first time, and I was just telling my husband I would rather be dipped in hot oil than go shave my legs– and then I read this post. Oh, my. Of course, I still feel compelled to go upstairs. There’s enough anxiety attached to trying to drive into the city tomorrow, find a parking space, and worry that they’ll tell me “your foot hurts ’cause you’re FAT!” I don’t need the mental stress in standing strong for unshaven legs! My husband never cares, thankfully.

  65. Oh, hey!

    I know why cyclists shave their legs – or at least why they shaved their legs back in the ’70’s, when my brother was racing in Victoria.
    They don’t shave their legs for racing – they shave their legs for CRASHING. Apparently, when shaved legs hit the asphalt, they slide easier than the hairy ones, because the hair gets snagged on the tar and bits of stone and rips more skin off.

    Also harder to debreed (scrub the stones off) hairy skin than smooth skin.

  66. I just want to jump in with my own hair story. I prefer shaving – legs, pits, crotch – I find it an incredibly therapeutic exercise taking no more than a few extra minutes in the shower. It feels cleaner, smells better, and it’s less itchy (after the first week).

    I figure I gain a few patriarchy-undermining points by shaving my head on occasion.

  67. I’m a bisexual woman in a committed lesbian D/s relationship wherein I use many aspects of gender (leg shaving included) as a form of drag for both my own and my partner’s pleasure. Having said that, both of those ads are wicked offensive, and I’ll be putting them on the running list of companies I don’t buy from.

  68. My favorite part of the post is the photo cap:
    “Behold: My hairy damn leg”

    I will probably think that every time I look at my own hairy leg.

    Since I moved from Cali to WA, I commenced an annual “shearing” — for me, it’s a rite of spring. I like the extra leg hair in winter but enjoy a smoother feel in summer. Mr. Rounded doesn’t seem to care and worries more that I’ll cut myself. My hair grows slowly so a daily trimming isn’t necessary or helpful and I’m very imprecise.

    Also, I find that I get very irritated in the pits when I apply deoderant after shaving, and lately, I seem to have some sort of sideburn-like action happening in the pits, as I don’t shave in front of a mirror I seem to miss the far corners. Do I care? No. I’m usually in a hurry or forget. So, I’m semi-hairy. Behold, my hairy damn pit. And another one. And my hairy damn big toe, all Hobbit-like, totally unacceptable in dainty sandals. Behold, damn it!

  69. This is what the beauty ideal is designed to erase: the reality of our bodies. This is what is so scary to proponents of fancy razors, diet pills, fake tans, and all that bullshit

    No. What scares them the most is the thought that women might not buy their unnecessary crap thus destroying their profits. The beauty industry identifies something that wasn’t a problem for eons, demonizes it, and then sells us a host of products to eliminate it. Body hair isn’t such a great example since even some ancient cultures loathed it, but the standard of beauty in hairlessness is gradually becoming more strict, and the profit motive is entirely to blame.

    It used to be that you only really needed to keep your lower legs and armpits hair free. Now the standard has crept up the leg all the way to pubic hair, and now, apparently, just shaving every other day no longer cuts it.

  70. I honestly had no idea that there were people who shaved their legs every single day. Do they have get up at 4am to shave their entire bodies? Poor women. Good grief.

  71. Oh no, Bunny Mazonas, I feel your pain. That was probably my most awkward injury to date. I don’t know how the ladies who shave down there manage it, bless them; they must have some really steady hands and nerves of steel.

    I went totally hairy-legs for the first time this past winter and it was fabulous. I actually enjoyed just petting my leg hair and sprawling around feeling as confident in my hairiness as any red-blooded male. I also enjoy the feeling of just having shaved (and then wearing some silk PJ pants!) though, so I’ll probably keep doing it now and then, maybe a few times a year. The hair sure grows back fast enough that trying to keep it constantly at bay would be an impossible task! So instead I will stroke my furry legs in defiance, like an evil mastermind with his white cat. Muhahaha!

  72. My skin is uncomfortably dry whether I shave or not, I was disappointed to learn. I hoped that would improve when I stopped, but no, not so much. And sometimes if I’m walking briskly or a certain pair of pants is sitting tightly on a particular day, hair on my legs causes painful chafing. It’s weird. Not that it motivates me to shave more often, but it’s a lot better when I shave. And put on lotion. I need to be better about the lotion.

    Heh, ditto to this whole paragraph.

  73. I actually thought the ad was pretty funny, in a cartoonishly ridiculous way, until the end, where the young woman takes on responsibility for the disaster caused by the actions of her asshole boyfriend. That actress is kind of a genius, though. The way she portrays the feeling of shame over not being good enough, by whatever standard you buy into, is quite brilliant.

  74. thank you thank you thank you! I grew up with mostly no girlfriends, so when my new best friend told me that she shaved her legs, pits, and nether regions EVERY SINGLE DAY and EW she couldn’t STAND going a day without shaving and that I should just tough it out and my skin would get used to it… even after overcoming my body issues, i still feel like a freak neanderthal when I don’t shave my legs.. they get itchy and cut and painful and it takes damn near 45 minutes to shave ankle to hip and I’m just not willing to do that to myself every day! as a result, I’m super hairy, like at least as hairy as my husband, and most of the time I’m OK with that, but sometimes i feel like a freak and that the only thing separating me from being sexy is a long session with a razor. the worst part of it is that my husband sometimes hints that he’d rather i shaved, but when I do shave he doesn’t even notice or care. I shave when I’m planning to wear a skirt or tank top, but that’s basically it. I’m not so comfortable with myself that I would allow anyone to see my legs after 3-4 weeks of growth (or even 3-4 days, nuh-uh) even though I know it’s ridiculous. I was born with this hair and obviously God wanted me to have it or else I’d shed it in the summer time. Pfft.

  75. I can’t use deodorant for days after I shave my pits because they’re always so damn irritated, so I’m either stinky and stinging, or hairy: I choose hairy.

    Watching these ads has convinced me that I’ve made the right choice. I choose hairy for life!

  76. @Jasmine, my bf sometimes tells me he prefers it smooth too (and once told me that when we met, if I hadn’t even been trimmed, the relationship would’ve gone no further) – and yet there is no correlation between the regularity of my saving and the regularity of our sex. Funny, that. Anyone would think we had more sex when we had the time and energy and weren’t fighting, rather than basing it arbitrarily on whether I’ve dragged a sharp blade over my skin that day.

    The only place I regularly shave is my armpits, because, well, a) my poor sense of smell b) I sweat easily meaning c) I could smell bad – it’s a long time since this has been mentioned but I try to notice, now – plus d) it’s fairly uncomfortable and e) really, really dark hair on really, really pale skin means I’m more likely to get crap about it than, say, blondes. I like to think the main reason is the comfort, and maybe consideration for others who don’t want to hang around bad-smelling people. As to the rest, eh, it varies.

  77. Oh, also, I used to live with a Pakistani woman who shaved her (fore) arms. Without getting too deeply into the feminisms, I tried to help her not feel so freakish for having, you know, arm hair.
    This was the same young woman who had horrendous period pains, not cramps but stomach and back pain the same way I have. I really hope my encouragement helped her to see a doctor about it, because it’s pretty easily fixable (well, in that there’s a pill which stops the pain each month).

  78. I really liked your post about hair. I am so tired of women not allowed to be actual, organic humans. Every beauty make over on TV has all the women looking like the exact same Barbie doll model. The world claps in awe while women like me find them offensively wrong – since they’ve had the replicator make over. Thank goodness I’m a lesbian and ‘some not all’ lesbians appreciate a bit of natural hair.

    Why can’t women just be humans…like it was intended? *weeps*

  79. Well, I want to thank you all for the laugh–not at the ad (I was totally hoping the guy got centimeter-long wire splinters under his nails) but at the reading, which brightened my day immense in the midst of a stack of papers, a huge scary report coming due, and even chest pain of “unknown etiology.” Uncompromising and funny do not always go together well, but at this site they make me laugh aloud in recognition and delight. Thanks.

  80. Ewwww!! Ewwww!! Ewwwww!! Ewwwww!! Ewwwww!! Ewwwww!! Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!

    These products are aimed at women, right? Why the fuck then are they putting out ads that only appeal to the likes of Benny Hill or Roy ‘Chuffin’ Brown?

    I am now SO going out in a skirt without shaving my legs (have about 4 months sturdy winter growth on them). Take that, Wilkinson Sword!

  81. Haven’t murdered anyone with my legs yet, though I’ve come close. ;-)

    Quick O/T: Batten down the hatches — Yet another study on the Obesity Epidemic (ooga booga) is out:


    A striking new study says almost 1 in 5 American 4-year-olds is obese, and the rate is alarmingly higher among American Indian children, with nearly a third of them obese. Researchers were surprised to see differences by race at so early an age.

    Overall, more than half a million 4-year-olds are obese, the study suggests. Obesity is more common in Hispanic and black youngsters, too, but the disparity is most startling in American Indians, whose rate is almost double that of whites.

    The lead author said that rate is worrisome among children so young, even in a population at higher risk for obesity because of other health problems and economic disadvantages.

  82. Tru Blu – maybe the ads aren’t just aimed at women. Perhaps the razor manufacturers think young men aren’t doing their shaming duties, and hope this advert will encourage them to emit theatrical screams whenever they touch a prickly leg.

  83. I remember the first time I felt like a body hair freak. I was in 7th or 8th grade and one of the hip, cool cheerleaders asked another cheerleader if she had any extra panty hose because “*shamed whisper* I haven’t shaved in THREE DAYS *blushblushblush*”.

    I was sitting there like….”What? I’M DOING IT WRONG????” That night I told my mom that and she just kind of laughed it off with “when you get a boyfriend, your priorities will change and you’ll be constantly worried about having leg stubble. I shaved every day when your dad and I started dating.”

    At that point, my mom shaved once every few weeks or whenever she had time. And she was right, I did start shaving more often once I got a boyfriend. Then I realized I HATED DOING IT and he wasn’t that nice of a guy anyway, so I stopped being so anal about it.

    And just to clarify my earlier statements — to each their own! Just know that it’s okay to defy these companies :)

    My only leg hair growth complaint is when I wear my mid-calf rain boots with socks that don’t go that high and the rubber adheres to my leg hair. YEOWCH.

  84. What astonishes me is how unaware we (that’s we-as-a-culture, not necessarily we-who-are-reading-this-right-now) are of what people’s bodies ACTUALLY LOOK LIKE.

    I think I was reading a recent Tomato Nation column where a woman is concerned about some dark hairs around her nipples. And a huge bunch of people chimed in to go, “omg, I have nipple hairz toooooo.” And to discuss what is and isn’t effective for their removal.

    But why is that news to us? Shouldn’t we have some idea that female nipple hair is not abnormal? That thighs have cellulite on them? That leg hair is only prickly for a few days? But we don’t. We think thighs naturally don’t touch, legs should feel like babies’ asses, and that ever portion of our bodies except our heads should be hairless.

    It’s not like it’s news to me that our ideas about bodies are shaped by unrealistic media standards and porn. But it just blows my mind that we have NO IDEA what we actually look like, as a species. We might as well be giant squids, for all that we know about ourselves. It’s so rare to see actual, un-airbrushed women in any state of undress that their bodies look foreign to us. This is wildly unsettling to me.

  85. I stopped shaving (legs and underarms) about five years ago. I’ve been married for ten years. My husband’s only request was that I either shave or don’t, because the in between prickly stage is fun for nobody. So I went with not shaving. The only person who has ever given me grief about it–I mean ever–is my sister. She makes comments and snickers and tells her friends omg my sister is hairy. I chalk it up to the fact that she lives in a podunk backwater. In both my current and former cities–and probably also as a function of the way I dress–people seem to chalk it up to my hippie-ness and leave me alone about it.

    ddly, my husband has more recently told me he’s glad that I stopped and that I never shaved my pubic hair. We have two little girls now and he doesn’t really like the idea that my body should look at all like theirs….and hairlessness really contributes to that effect, especially in the pubic region. I find that really creepy about pubic hair removal myself, so I totally appreciate his position on that.

  86. *raises hand meekly*

    I actually shave my legs and my pits. I think that if I hadn’t started doing it in 9th grade for pep squad, I never would have. I don’t do it nearly as often as I used to, but I still do it because wearing pantyhose/socks/tights would be unbearable if I don’t. The hairs like to weave themselves into the hosiery, and it hurts like hell to put them on and take them off otherwise.

  87. I will always shave under my arms, cause I hate underarm hair. I had my boy doing his too, for a while. I don’t understand why all guys don’t do it.

    Legs, otoh, I sometimes shave, sometimes not. Right now I do, because I never wear hose, and showing up at my office with bare legs is only acceptable if there’s no hair on them. But I’ve gone without shaving in the past, and it’s really quite nice. There’s nothing like the feeling of a warm breeze through your leg hair.

    I do not shave my crotch. I will never shave my crotch. I’ve tried shaving the edges and OMG ITCH BURN OW. And the bare look just. creeps. me. out.

  88. I’ve actually been thinking of shaving again in the winter — it’s Boston, so long underwear and thick socks and such is a necessity, and I hate the feeling of my leg hair going the wrong way when my socks pull on it. But in summer, I can be my happy fuzzy self. I do shave my armpits to cut down on the smell — I can actually go most of the winter without deodorant if I shave and wash regularly, since I don’t have particularly pungent sweat.

    My mother was so happy when I started shaving my legs that she sent me replacement razor heads in my college care packages for ages. I’ll have to decide whether to keep shaving when I run out of them. (Do they even still make ones that will fit my razor? I’m not buying a new one.)

  89. Oh, and I tried shaving the edges of my pubic hair exactly once, for a Rocky Horror Picture Show production where I was in a corset. Never again. It felt like I had a small enraged hedgehog living in my underwear until it grew out again.

  90. Lord knows I have problems with my mother and body image, but one bit of excellent advice she gave me when I was about 13 was never to start shaving my legs. She said that if I started, I would never be able to stop because the hair would be so prickly and itchy as it grew back. I’m glad to hear from other Shapelings that shaving isn’t necessarily a life sentence but I’m very happy with my soft, comfortable, never-shaved leg fur!

    I did shave my pits in a half-assed sort of way for a couple of years in my teens, but actually I find I’m less sweaty and more comfortable with the hair than without.

    It has to be said though that I’m not naturally very hairy – whenever I feel a self-righteous feminist glow coming on, I try to remind myself that it’s very easy to be comfortable with your body hair when most of it can barely be seen with the naked eye :)

  91. spot ON! so true! conveniently, being hirsute is sold off as masculinity. the chauvenists. as if their sensibilities are that fine. loved your post. you have a follower! keep writing!!

  92. Oh let me tell you your legs cant hold a candle to mine lady!! I, like you, dont feel the need to shave in the winter, not when my legs are hidden behind quite thick strips of denim! The extra layer is quite nice actually. I had no idea i was causing so much potential harm!!!! Thank you for opening my eyes!!

    (standsup and applauses)

  93. I shave only my chin, a few times a week, because it gets pretty hairy. Otherwise, forget it. I’m too rebellious to capitulate to shaving anything else and I am also “insufficiently motivated”. I shaved my legs once when I was a teenager because my mother threatened to refuse to let me leave the house for some awards ceremony if I didn’t. But after that, never again. I shaved my pubic hair once out of curiousity. I really liked the way it felt, but the agonizing, unbearable itch that followed nearly drove me out of my mind, so I never did that again. It’s hard to believe I ever did it to begin with, because nowadays the thought of a razor anywhere near my bits makes me cringe. And ven if I were interested in trying it again, I can reach well enough, but these days I can’t *see* down that way and I’m sure not going to chance it with a razor in one hand and a mirror in the other!

  94. Fuck, I owe my city like 18 gazillion dollars for all the buses I’ve crashed through walls by being hairy at them.

    I don’t know whether to be dismayed or simply awed at my own power.

    Even the drunk, unshowered guy who carries three bags of laundry and a bag of cans on every morning doesn’t cause that sort of mass exodus.

  95. Amusing…

    For only two reasons have I ever shaved anything other than my armpit (tangles are not nice). First was curiosity and the second is when my sister, who is a big fan of shaving anything she can reach, nags me into it during the summer, usually only once or twice a year.

    Now if you’ll exuse me, I got to go shove this in the face of my classmate who thinks us women are ‘done with all that feminist stuff’.

    Also, I love your sarcastic way of writing ;)

  96. This makes me think of the sort of scene they’d have on “The Simpsons”, only poorly done. Had they gone deliberately over the top on self-parody (bus going over a cliff and crashing in a fireball, multitudes fleeing in horror a la the Godzilla movies, mushroom cloud), it at least would have been clever.

  97. I shave my moustache about once a week. Other women in my family shave their entire faces, I don’t bother. Yeah, I’ve got a lot of dark hair on my cheeks. Deal.

    (My aunties and cousins shave their forearms too. That’s just… ugh. I don’t get it.)

    I’m kind of interested in the juxtaposition here, though. Some women say that their armpits smell less when they’re shaved, others say they smell less when they’re not shaved. OMG, can human beings be different and have completely different biochemistry? SHOCK!

    (Put me in the category of stinks-less-when-hairy, by the way. My armpit hair may be killing men on the bus left and right [I’ve been groped on public transit, and I always find the best response is to turn to the offender and verbally tear them a new asshole] but it isn’t killing them from stink)

  98. SM, I can’t watch the clip until I get home from work, but your hairy leg photo is absolutely mesmerizing. What part of your leg is that? The way it curves up slightly on the right edge of the photo has me baffled.

    Here’s my best guess: Outer edge of your lower thigh, just where it starts to bend at the back of the knee? Am I even close?

    Also, I do grow my own socks every winter, but I eagerly anticipate the first shave of spring. I shave my legs and change my sheets on the same day, because the sensation of freshly shorn calves sliding into crisp, cool clean sheets is one of life’s simple pleasures. It has nothing to do with teh menz.

  99. I shaved my pubic hair once out of curiousity. I really liked the way it felt, but the agonizing, unbearable itch that followed nearly drove me out of my mind, so I never did that again.

    Oh my God, seriously. I don’t know how people tolerate it.


    So, in spite of myself, I’ve been humming the “mow the lawn” song to myself all day. I find myself oddly taken by it, and I think it’s because I find the idea of women breaking out into peppy song and dance numbers about their vulvas. I really do. Particularly when the double entendres are all taken from a stereotypically masculine activity like mowing the lawn. I mean, yes, absolutely, this particular instance was sexist, but it got me thinking…

    Why not write a spoof called “Buff the Hood” with a lot of women joyfully dancing around and polishing the hoods of their cars?!?! If you catch my meaning, and I think you do.

    I am totally going to do this. O, the pun possibilities! I mean, just riffing on “auto” ALONE would present a dizzying array of wordplay fun.

    YAY!! I’m so excited!

  101. Er, make that “I find the idea of women breaking out into peppy song and dance numbers about their vulvas enchanting.”

  102. Also, I do grow my own socks every winter, but I eagerly anticipate the first shave of spring.

    A++ work on this sentence. Hilarious.

  103. I’ve not shaved my legs since December 21, 2007 and my armpits since March 25, 2009. I’m perfectly peachy about it, too, but people say it’s gross. I don’t really care and sometimes I tell them off. I like it. The hair is pretty smooth and nice.

  104. SM, I can’t watch the clip until I get home from work, but your hairy leg photo is absolutely mesmerizing. What part of your leg is that? The way it curves up slightly on the right edge of the photo has me baffled.

    It’s my calf! The photo was taken with my webcam so the angle is all weird. I *think* the curve you’re seeing is my ankle, which is also kinda flattened by having my leg crossed over the other. It does look baffling now that you’ve pointed it out. :-)

  105. Oh man, i didn’t know there was anyone else that smells less when their armpits are hairy than when they’re shaved! I’m not alone!

    Fwiw, shaving and then growing back the edge of the bikini line stops irritating my skin after I do it a few times in a row (about as frequently as once a week, in my case). That may not be universal, but I certainly don’t get the bumpy itchy burny redness more than a couple times in a row if I’m shaving regularly. My skin seems to adjust. And I have the Most Sensitive Skin Ever (more or less).

    A Sarah, you make me laugh.

  106. I did something amazing today–took my fat, pale, haven’t-shaved-anything-in-a-month ass out swimming. In a SWIMSUIT. No one even died or anything!

    (this was a personal triumph. as of this morning, i’ve had three swimming suits that i’ve bought with the intention of wearing that hadn’t even been near water.)

    I’m thinking about adding swimming to my list of new found hobbies, such as allowing my photos to be taken and *liking* them.

  107. I think I shaved for a few years in high school but I haven’t shaved since the early 1970s. Now I do triathlons and I still don’t shave either legs or armpits despite the traditions of swimmer and bike racers. (But I do get the hair on my face removed by electrolysis.)

  108. From one ANGRY Vagina to another ( I am an active member of V-Day) I salute your blog. I am glad that someone has decided to challenge the thoughts of men and some women everywhere by talking about it on the web.

    I agree, this commercial is upsetting. Women should not have to change their bodies to please men. If a woman is going to change her body it should be for herself and no one else!

  109. It was my mother who sent me this article and it is wonderful. Growing up with a feminist mother who doesn’t shave, I didn’t relize that was the norm untill middle school. I fought shaving at all for a little bit but gave in and started shaving my armpits. I am a sophmore in high school with a boyfriend and I still have yet to shave my legs. What is the point of it any way? My boyfriend has asked me to a few times but I am refusing as it seems like at lot more time lost for no reason. Why should I give up me time for the benifit of other people.

  110. Oh man, i didn’t know there was anyone else that smells less when their armpits are hairy than when they’re shaved! I’m not alone!

    I’m less odorous unshaven as well, and the scent tends to be more pleasant. But then, I’m very susceptible to skin infections, so I suspect some of this may be because shaving — which irritates the skin, and then robs it of the hairs that would otherwise wick sweat away — encourages microbial and fungal growth.

  111. And yet, if her boyfriend weren’t an immature douche, none of that would have happened. Or did her omgzwomanstubble burn to touch, causing him to fling back his hand and set into motion that chain of events.

    So I’m positing another interpretation of the ads: Save lives, don’t date douchehounds!

  112. Anastasia, I think it’s very interesting that your husband is freaked out about your body resembling your girls’. First of all, he’s totally right; my working theory (and it’s not a terribly original one, but it sure hits the mark most of the time) is that the dominant beauty ideal encourages the suppression or careful concealment of anything that differentiates grown women from little girls. Coarse body hair, smells, menstruation, certain distributions of fat….We’re all just supposed to be unusually tall little girls. With boobs.

    Second, I have noticed a couple of fascinating instances recently of the rapid growth of feminist consciousness in fathers with daughters. (Dunno if it specifically applies to your husband, of course. He could have been a totally awesomely feminist the day you met him. But makes a good segue.) Case in point: my giant, former high school football-star chiropractor was totally taken aback when a female friend told him she didn’t go biking at certain times of day on certain portions of one of our delightful urban trails. It’s just…nobody’s ever dared bother with him, and not because he’s some mean-looking brute. But a quick scan does suggest that picking a fight with him would be unwise. The message really sunk in this time, though, because of his two little girls. He’s not an idiot, but neither is he the kind of person to whom it occurs to think beyond his normal realm of experience. But now, as a father of daughters, it seems to be sinking in how very vulnerable women can be in our world today.

  113. Wow! thanks so much for this post. I don’t normally shave my legs or vulva, I do my arms simply because I have very course hair, but very sensitive skin and it gets…um stabby? I don’t know how else to explain it I guess, but anyway. I don’t generally shave unless A) I wear s skirt because, unfortunately I am just not -that- liberated to show off my hairness that way.
    or B) I have my silk sheets on the bed, I love silk! yummy best way to spend an oklahoma summer, on silk.
    And the idea of shaveing my vulva? freakin’ A no! I mean how many men do I hear say “well I dont shave because I dont want to cut my parts” did they ever stop to think I dont want to cut mine either?! Bah, anyway….maybe posts like these will help me get up the overies to walk out side and bare my naked hairy leg glory to the world and crash buses. I like this idea some how.

  114. I’ve emailed them commending the young lady in the advert on her resourcefulness and asking where I can buy a leg hair sharpener and a phial of curare.

    MissPrism – have I told you lately that I love you?

    I’ve always figured anyone who doesn’t want to be with me because I don’t shave/wax/trim my bikini line (life is too short to shave a mushroom, as Shirley Conran might have said) is not worth being with anyway. However, I still shave my legs and under my arms as I don’t have the energy to take on the patriarchy on this one.

  115. I’ve noticed in these posts guilt on both sides of the equation: those who shave and those who don’t. Either we feel guilty for not fulflling artificial beauty standards or we feel guity for not being liberated or feminist enough! At any rate the onus is always on the womenz and their hairz.

  116. So, I apologize to those that commented, I just wanted to send a quick note to tell ya’ll this.

    So, in college…not grad here, but undergrad…I was OBSESSED with shaving my legs. Weird right? (Therapy worked…hehe, jk) So, I ended up getting these weird bumps on my legs that I took as acne. Of course what do you do when you’re bored because you work in a lab? Itch at your perfectly shaven legs.

    I developed a rash for shaving everyday.

    I highly recommend against it.

  117. Hee, SM, that’s your leg after weeks of not shaving? Mine looks like that after a week AT MOST. When I was ~15-18 I didn’t shave the whole winter and the hair got ridiculously long and dark and the difference when I first shaved it all off again in the spring was amazing. It was a very fun experience.

    Nowadays I have resolved never ever ever to shave or wax el pubes again because WHO NEEDS THE HASSLE, but I still do legs and armpits. Haven’t overcome that conditioning yet, or something. *shrug*

  118. I have to *sheepishly* admit that I am part of the waxing crowd. 4 times a year I get all the hair below my neckline ripped out by the root and I LIKE it. I go wild and wear every skirt and tank top I own for a few weeks. Then, when it starts growing back in, I do nothing to it, and it gets way worse then your leg picture even on my stomach and back. I wear mostly pants in those times, because I do work in an air-conditioned office. But I gave up shaving years ago–my hair is so thick the blade got dull before I finished the first leg so I was always getting nicked up AND it took forever long in the shower EVERY DAY. The gal who waxes me knows I never cheat, since I’m always bushy when I get up on the table. I do it for ME, not my husband; who, by the way, doesn’t seem to care one way or the other. I think it’s funny when he trims his chest and groin hair because he thinks it’s getting too “wild”. When I get teased at the gym, I just tell the snooty gals that I’m getting ready for my next porn movie: Fat and Furry. BTW, we live in beach central: Honolulu. I guess when I go out with my kids they just figure I’m a European tourist…

  119. I remember when I was teaching 9th and 10th graders, in 1998 or 1999, there was an item in Newsweek showing that Julia Roberts hadn’t shaved her armpits in several days: she was photographed waving her arm and there was HAIR visible! The magazine speculated that this was because she’d been in Europe for a while and picked up icky habits there.

    Yep, that was considered newsworthy, and reading that not only made me puke (that it was written at all, not that she had hair!) but made my heart break for my teenage students who would read that and have one more reason to be terrified of their own bodies: OMG if I don’t shave my pits it’ll get into the newspapers!

  120. Caitlin, my legs totally used to be hairier, but they’ve mellowed a bit! I don’t know if it’s wearing pants all winter or what, but they are significantly less furry than in winters past.

  121. have one more reason to be terrified of their own bodies: OMG if I don’t shave my pits it’ll get into the newspapers!

    Or, even worse: even if I’m as conventionally beautiful as Julia Roberts, I still have to shave my pits every day or I’ll be mocked.

  122. I have a friend who was a bike messenger in NYC about 10 years ago. She has never shaved anything. One day a businessman yelled at her from his car that she needed to shave her pits. She replied, “Why, so YOU would be attracted to me?”

    I find that is the most perfect response. Now I’m not saying that people who shave are betraying the revolution, but having girl fur has been an excellent sorting device for potential suitors over the years. Especially in the summer, when I’m rocking tank tops. The dudes who still want to do me probably don’t have unrealistic body ideals for women.

    The funniest thing I think is that people who have hair issues can’t believe that me an my hairy friends get laid!

  123. wait, is that why women wear panty hose? To hide their leg hair? Jeez…

    my ex shaved her arm hair when we got together (super pale with long brown/black arm hair). I was always kinda proud/happy that she didn’t feel like she needed to with me, and still doesn’t.

  124. Ugh. This is SO disgusting. That woman took all that time to look nice according to typical standards of beauty–she matched her eyeshadow to her dress!!–and he PHYSICALLY RECOILS because of a little leg hair??

    The truth is, NORMAL guys won’t even notice. THEY HAVE LEG HAIR. They would look at you like you were a complete loon if you suggested THEY shave it.

    I’m lucky to be with a nice, NORMAL man who doesn’t give a flying fuck if I shave my leg/arm/pubic OR EVEN ARMPIT hair because he knows damn well nothing will get him to do that…and because, as he reiterates, he loves me for who and what I am.

    Girl should just leave that fucker on the bus. Trust me, any number of men (and women!) will appreciate both the efforts she took AND the fact that she doesn’t even need to take them.

  125. I shave about once a week (calves and pits only) because I find it painful not to, especially the pit hair which I tried to grow out but after a certain length it started pulling horribly. I wish I didn’t have to because I hate to give into any of the patriarchy’s propaganda about female standards of beauty. But I also have to admit that I do love the feeling of smooth legs on clean sheets.

    My mother and I are both quite hairy (and dark-haired with relatively pale skin) and she always made a big deal about it, when I hit puberty she told me “we’ll have to take care of that moustache” (there are like 4 hairs on the sides of my lips), nagging me to shave my bikini area and pits – though she never taught me how to do it against the grain so even though I shaved, I had perma-stubble. (My ex-boyfriend was the one who showed me that trick.) She also had extensive electrolysis on her upper thighs and in moments of insecurity I wonder if I should too. So far I’ve held strong on that front.

    All my life I got flak from men (most of whom I was not sleeping with) about shaving/trimming my pubes – at the ex’s insistence I tried it once and OMG, never again! Not only was it agonizing but I found the look incredibly creepy and if that’s what a man wants me to look like, I sooo don’t want to be with him. Just one of many reasons he’s an ex.

  126. Having been groped by a random stranger on public transport, I have to say a couple of things:

    a) just the idea of this ad is creepy as all shit– what the hell makes people think we WANT to have our personal space and our bodies invaded by ANYONE just because we dare use public transport without a bodyguard?
    b) the arsehole who grabbed at me couldn’t see any bare skin or hair on my legs, (I was wearing jeans) leading me to believe that whether I’d shaved or not didn’t matter to him.

    and c) if not shaving means NOT being sexually assaulted by random strangers, I AM NEVER SHAVING ANYTHING EVER AGAIN. Bonus if having body hair actually makes people jump away from me and keep out of my personal space.

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