4.09.2011

Hairy-legged feminist anniversary

It's time for some upbeat news.

One of the most popular posts on this blog was one I wrote in 2006, and it's gotten comments as recently as last week.  It's called "Hairy-legged feminist."  It's popular in part because that's a common phrase that nobody else has written a blog post about, I guess.  Google "hairy-legged feminist" and see what you find.  We are the top!  Baxter Sez is defining this terrain!*

Given the popularity of that post, I thought I'd let the Baxter Sez readership know that we are now at the twentieth anniversary of my hairy-legged feminism.  I stopped shaving during the spring semester of my first year in college, in 1991.  The weather got warm, and I thought, "Why in the world should I keep doing this?  It doesn't make sense."  College, of course, is a time for that.  It's a space where students should be free to question their assumptions and start feeling out who and what they are in ways not automatically defined by their communities of origin.  Not all the assumption-questioning sticks, but for me, this did.** 

In the blog post from 2006, I voiced the fact that living in Charleston was causing me to question whether or not I should continue to be a non-shaver.  The many, many commenters will be happy to know that living in Charleston didn't cause me to change my bodily practices (at least in that arena):  I'm still a person who doesn't shave.  I'm still with a partner who has never seen me without all kinds of visible, stereotypically feminist body hair.  And I'm quite luscious in my fuzziness.

This is not to say that I think that the presence of body hair is a prerequisite for anyone's feminism.  Body hair isn't that important.  Shave, don't shave, get a Brazilian--whatever.  Feminism has many more important issues than that, and I don't spend any time scrutinizing the depilating practices of my friends and colleagues.  You can be completely hairless and an amazing feminist.  Feel free to give it a try!

For me, I'm happy to have a body that grows the hair it grows.  I'm happy to have an ideology that affirms my body being what it is--hairy, aging, flat-chested, with a wub.  Feminism is the political grounding that says, "Please feel free to ignore all that cultural bullshit about the razors, elastic inserts, chemical injections, and surgeries you need to make your body fit the standard.  Rewrite the standard!  Be who you are!  You are fabulous!"

Hurray for twenty years of that!


*If you enjoy random Googling, try this phrase:  Eef and hambone.
**In relation to the "communities of origin" point, I should note that when I showed my mom my hairy legs in 1991, she was sort of envious.  My community of origin didn't scorn my non-shaved self.

8 comments:

lifeversiontwo said...

I've been having a dialogue in my head about hair and feminism lately. Though, not on my body - on my head. I have long-ish hair right now. And I claim to like it because it's easy. I can braid it, put it in a bun, or a ponytail, and be out the door.

But I was watching some 10pm network TV show the other week (I don't remember what it's called) and found myself stupidly excited because one of the teenage female characters had a pixie cut. And I started to think of how many women on TV, in popular media, and in life have short hair. And while there are some, long hair is the cultural norm. So then I started thinking about outward expressions of femininity and conformity, etc.

I might cut my hair. I haven't decided yet. But I've never really thought about it in quite these terms.

starrlife said...

Happy anniversary! I honestly don't know how I feel about body hair - armpits I kinda like but legs -I don't know. When I do grow it ala winter cover up time I find it uncomfortable even after it is supposedly long and soft. Now that I'm a crone I find I'm grateful to have any body hair at all!! :)
This Ben guy sounds very interesting.
Alas, body image is something I've been trying to get over for many years with only minimal success. I'm glad to hear that you have done so.

krlr said...

"Luscious in my fuzziness" is my favorite line of the week. Closely followed by the word 'wub'. Happy Sunday morning!

Alison said...

LOVE the notion of a pixie cut! I even seriously considered it after my surgery, but then a hairdresser told me that my hair is so curly (i.e. unruly) that I might have four years of hating it, and also him. So I left it long.

Starrlife, for what it's worth, I have loads of other things I haven't yet gotten over...with body image, I think I was somewhat determined and somewhat lucky.

The Mom said...

Yea, Alison, because you have a basically beautiful body! (I'll understand if you don't publish that one!) I'm trying, with results that aren't always consistent, to have a better body image. I'm not nearly as far along as you are, though!

Myrlyn said...

I just hate shaving. Personally. I don't like it. It's time consuming, it's a pain in the butt, and it's painful, 'cos I never learned to do it right.
I don't see why it has anything to do with feminism. The only time it has anything to do with feminism, to me, is if you make the choice to shave or not by what is expected of you because of your sex.

Taylor said...

Ha! "Luscious in all my fuzziness" is the best! I second that you are! Did you see the article in BUST from the Feb/March issue about the history of body hair?

Ciana Pullen said...

I'm also a hairy-legged feminist in Charleston-- hooray! I'm aware of the whole "Southern lady" cult but I haven't gotten any feedback on the (very high-contrast, very hairy) legs besides a few nasty looks. Not as hard as I thought!

This is the first time I've been by your blog; I love it.