One of the less common woes about being a woman is society’s repulsion of those who don’t depilate. Up until a few years ago, it was seen as nearly essential for women to have smooth legs, be it at a party or the workplace. The lack of silky smooth, nearly metallic Jennifer Lopez-esque legs was silently looked down upon. Although people rarely critiqued hairy legs in front of the offender, their silent judgment always came through. As someone of South Asian descent, I wasn’t very fortunate with my genetics. While my head hair is as thick as any Sri Lankans, so is my body hair. My friends and I suffered from our efforts to depilate; the pain of waxing, and waking up at the crack of dawn to perform the tedious task of shaving two limbs, only to have our stubborn follicles return that very evening.
But that was a few years ago. With the rise of the body positivity movement came a wave of new ideas that people from all around the world supported. The idea of embracing one’s body hair, instead of getting rid of it, became widely popular and is still going strong. No longer do teenage girls and young adults feel the pressure from society to rip their leg and armpit hair. Women who don’t shave are seen as bold and are often looked up to. Anyone who condemns the idea of not shaving or waxing is immediately called out on social media, and quite rightfully so, because no one has the right to dictate how you present yourself.
But they still do.
I often feel as if I’m one of the few women who are still particular about ridding themselves of their body hair, even though we have less pressure from society to do so. In the event of me complaining about its maintenance, a friend would simply tell me that there’s no need to shave or have smooth skin to please someone. They tell me that my hairy legs are beautiful just the way they are, but I still feel that they’re not. My hairy legs are not beautiful, and I’m not saying this in a self-deprecating manner, I’m saying this as a form of acknowledgment. I know I don’t have to shave to please society, and I don’t. I depilate for myself. I’ve come to realize that I enjoy the feeling of having smooth skin, not because my leg hair is shameful, but because the lack of it makes me feel comfortable. Having hairless skin empowers me, and I don’t want people telling me I’m not feminist enough just because I shave. Your depilation choices don’t decide how progressive you are.
Contrary to popular notions that arose from the body positivity movement, some of us firmly believe that it is alright to refer to your own personal attributes as anything other than beautiful. While very well-intentioned, the wave of body positivity that demands all features to be called “beautiful” is embracing the idea that everything needs to be pretty in order to be accepted. That definitely isn’t the case. I can have hairy legs, fluffy arms, and an annoying mustache and be normal. Not beautiful, not a masterpiece, just normal. That’s okay. And society needs to accept that some people enjoy merely accepting their bodies for what they are, as opposed to embracing them.
What we can conclude is that body positivity comes with choice, and one’s freedom to do what empowers them the most. It’s highly subjective, and I vote that while we let people who don’t shave bask in what makes them comfortable, we let shavers depilate without judging them too. While No-Shave November has already arrived, some people have breathed sighs of relief, as the weather-induced lack of opportunity to show off their legs brings with it no necessity to depilate. Others will act as they always did; indifferent, because they never bothered to remove their hair. I, on the other hand, will continue heating my wax in the microwave, eager to rip my leg hair off and complain all the way. Because of course, where’s the fun in not complaining?