It started as a convenience thing. Take a tiny shower space, toss a little cold water in the mix, add physical exhaustion at the end of the day and you have a college freshman who just can’t muster up the energy to shave her legs.
I thought this would last maybe a couple of weeks. I would shave the next time I went home. But, the visit came and went and my legs continued to grow their little forest. Before long, touching my legs felt like touching a small dog.
Maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit. But seriously, this was the hairiest my legs had been since I’d started shaving in middle school. It became a novelty, a thing to show off ironically. My friends would tell me to feel their legs right after they shaved, and I’d pull up my jeans to add mine to the mix. Soon enough, I grew attached to the carpet covering my legs and what started as a convenient way to spend less time in the shower slowly turned into a point of view.
Since middle school, I’d been convinced that not shaving my legs meant social suicide, that no boys would ever like me, that girls would make fun of me. Unshaved legs somehow look wrong in short dresses when looking in the mirror. The media has such a violent hold on young girls’ minds that we are trained to conform before we can even develop our own identity.
Maybe it’s just because I’m in college, a much more open-minded space than high school, but everything the media told me about my body hair has been wrong so far.
My boyfriend couldn’t care less about whether my legs are shaved. I asked him once if the hair bothered him and he told me that it wasn’t his decision to make, and that if I was happy, he was happy.
Girls didn’t make fun of me (or at least not to my face). After a while of insisting my friends feel my legs, they’ve gotten tired of the novelty and have just accepted it as a normal part of me. It’s sparked some discussions about preference, but we’ve ended each discussion respecting each other’s choices.
But, just because I got lucky with incredibly kind and understanding friends doesn’t mean the entire world has changed its stance on beauty standards for women. A Swedish model received rape threats after posting an Adidas campaign that focused on her unshaved legs.
Showing body hair shouldn’t have to be a brave thing to do. Arvida Byström shouldn’t be threatened for her preferences. I shouldn’t have gotten an enthusiastic “good for you!” time and time again. But unfortunately, we live in a world where something as small as not shaving your legs can be a tiny rebellion against oppressive beauty standards.
People like Arvida and Sophia Hadjipanteli, who sports her natural unibrow on social media, are working to combat society’s message that beautiful means one thing. And if my laziness can help contribute to that mission, I’m all for it.