I will not shave my legs for you/ Would you turn a peach into a nectarine?
-Biosphere Suite (2001), Joyce Kilmer Memorial Bad Poetry Contest submission
Every spring, as the temperature warms, it’s the same dilemma. Do I stand firm on furry appendages or do I bow to American society’s pressure to shear my leg hair follicles into submission?
Under winter’s cover of tights and leggings, jeans and corduroys, yoga pants and sweatpants, my legs have returned to their natural state of luxuriant fuzziness. Bless my hirsute ancestral mammals, or my healthy circulation. It took me a long time to get them to this soft and fluffy state.
In the company of hippies, in the woods or on the farm, furry female bodies are celebrated. Also, the de rigeur protective layers of pants tucked into socks (“forest pants”) to prevent tick bites and sunburn makes the state of one’s bare limbs (denuded or not?) irrelevant.
Yet, surrounded by suburban mores, my resolve to remain unshorn wavers. Drawn into cultural conformity, I want to wear skirts and capri pants without feeling self conscious of my fuzzy calves. How much stronger of a woman would I need to be to not care what other people think? Why must I deliberate whether removing leg hair or not is some kind of monumental public philosophical statement?
One of my favorite hippie chicks put it to me this way. “Sometimes I feel like shaving. And sometimes I don’t. Either way is okay with me.”