Saturday, February 17, 2007

Well, I did it

For weeks now I have been considering getting my legs waxed for Mexico. I didn't have as much angst about it as I thought I would, but as the date to do it got closer, I wound up having more angst than I thought I would. For years I've been clear that I don't shave my legs because I'm lazy, I hate the pricklies, and I think it's stupid for me to do (note: not for anyone else to do - I understand that what people like, people like, and far be it from me to say NO to pleasure), and politics weren't such a big part of it. But when I made the appointment to get it done then the politics came front and foremost.

So I got my legs waxed yesterday and, well, I must admit my legs are beautiful and I feel like I've sold out my beliefs. )-: As if having hairy legs made me a feminist, which I so know isn't the truth. The woman who did it was really cool and the actual experience wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. She was working out of her boyfriend's apartment, which actually worked much better for me than if I'd gone to see her at the day spa she works in; even she said that it would have been a different experience "with all those chi-chi girls" (her words). I told her about my ambivalence and why and she seemed to understand my struggle about getting my legs "dehaired."

See, I've been feeling annoyed about "agreeing" (to myself) to get my legs waxed. I've been annoyed at the societal expectation that women ought to be hairless, and I've been feeling annoyed that I will be uncomfortable around my cute little sister-in-law (I mean that in a good way) and her cute fashionable friends and all those people if I don't wax my legs. But I decided to go through with it feeling that I would be more self-conscious for a week if I don't than I would be annoyed about giving into the societal pressure which I have spent so many years spitting in the eye of. It takes some guts to not shave your legs for fifteen years. Totally aside from the voices in my head and self-consciousness, I've actually received remarks from strangers about my leg hair. One time a young girl asked me if I was a man, because my legs were hairy. I refrained from slapping her and just remarked that "there are a lot of ways to be a woman."

The actual experience wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. It's exactly like psyching yourself out when you have to get blood drawn; it's never as bad as you think (if you get a good phlebotomist, that is). The procedure took an hour longer than I'd been told to expect, mostly because we were chatting so much I think. She described my leg hair as "sparse" which I found reassuring because that's so not what I've always thought. My skin looks much lighter than I thought, without all that black hair on it.

I went to Mom's afterwards for lunch - and of course got really annoyed for a moment when I showed her my legs and she freaked out. She hugged me like I'd just won the spelling bee or something, like I'd finally done the right thing. "Well, you know I'm happy," she said. Grrr. Hers has been one of the voices in my head telling me I ought to shave my legs. I feel like I've spent 15 years defending my decision and now I've gone and done something my mom wanted me to do (yeah, those dynamics are another post).

But I like not having hairy legs, which I suspected would be the case and didn't like it. I wore a knee-length skirt to our anniversary dinner last night because I could do it without tights or nylons for the first time ever (thanks goodness it was warm enough - I would have anyway but still...). I will feel the most normal in a bathing suit I ever have. I'm happy with my body shape and I will have "normal" legs like all the other women.

You can't really imagine how annoying I find this.

So, more than you could ever possibly wish to know about my leg hair and new lack thereof. I'm getting awfully girly, with my sparkly painted nails and hairless legs. Intervene if you hear that I've started wearing pastels or neon colors.

I'm off to Puerto Vallarta tomorrow for No and KT's wedding. I will continue to write every day but I'm not sure how much internet access I will have, especially the first few days. Trust me, I will post whatever I write in order when I have access. In the meantime, have a great Year of the Pig. Gung hay fat choy!

1 comment:

Bink said...

Okay, I have to comment on this one!
Agreed, the custom of leg shaving/waxing is ridiculous and sexist. Also agreed, hairless legs do generally look better (maybe this is just corporate brainwashing, and too many slick magazines or something, I don't know). I remember in college I stopped shaving for awhile. It felt satisfyingly rightous, as I remember, for as long as it lasted (until I wanted to wear a short skirt and heels or something I suppose). I know of at least one feminist who doesn't need to grapple with the issue. You will know who I'm talking about - my lovely Franklin Avenue housemate who had the finest, blondest hair on her legs. If she wasn't standing in bright sun you would never know she wasn't a shaver. In bright sunlight, her legs just looked sparkling and golden.
For the rest of us mere mortals, I forgive us our leg shaving, with the firm belief that there are a million things that show our integrity more clearly than the state of our personal grooming. And anyway, isn't it more fun to keep them guessing, as a conventional looking gal with a radical heart?