Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Why I Shaved

Today I shaved my legs for the first time in...a while.  Six years? Holey cow.  Feels really weird.

Why?  Because I grew out of saying "down with the patriarchy" with my body, and all that? (I was never really trying to do that.)

Well, mostly because this week I'm working every day at the high ropes course, and it's hot, and staff get free outdoor pool access and darn it I want to go swimming after work, and since its a YMCA kinda conservative-ish location I just don't feel like making waves by freaking people out with hippie female unshaved leg-ness.  I'd really rather just enjoy swimming after a long day's work in the hot sun without worrying about causing consternation or disgust.  I do think it is sad that that is true, but I'd be more sad if I didn't go swimming.

Which leads me into a discussion of why I don't usually shave to begin with.

There are two main reasons--and they aren't very much into the "down with the patriarchy" reason people assume women don't shave, at least not directly, because the truth is that like a Good Woman I'd really rather not draw that much attention to myself amid strangers.  I remember when I was little I used to spend tons of time outside.  In the summer that meant my legs were a maze of histamine-filled welts, scabs, and scratches, and to this day I am usually the preferred meal in any given group of humans for those female mosquitoes who don't actually eat your blood but take it to help them lay eggs.  Interesting fact.

When I first began shaving, my father once made the comment that "you know I think having hair on your legs helps with the mosquitoes."  He said it almost accusingly, like, see, if you didn't shave your legs you wouldn't have this problem, like I actually had a choice in the matter.  And of course, as I've demonstrated for the past six years, I do indeed have a choice in the matter.  But it has never been a choice without tradeoffs.

When I started working at a Boy Scout camp, I started weighing and choosing the tradeoffs.  At Boy Scout camp, my job involved a lot of woods time, which meant a lot of mosquito time.  It was summer, yet Boy Scout camp has strict uniform rules, with the choice of heavy cotton shorts or heavy cotton long pants.  Since the heat index in that good ole Small Town, NC rises up past 100 for a fair portion of the summer, I was not thrilled about the heavy cotton long pants.  Nor was I thrilled about constant itching misery.   So I remembered my dad, and I made a choice, and I stopped shaving my legs.

Oh my gosh, I got all kinds of hell for it.  Not from the bosses, I doubt they even noticed.  But yeah.  Boy Scout Camp.  Some of the staff were shall we say not so into that fact of my existence--though in hindsight they probably would not have been no matter what I did, and I wasn't so thrilled with them either so life goes on.  I got given an absolutely horrible, demeaning nickname that I still will not share with people who never learned it but are curious and that still really, deeply hurts me even though I know it shouldn't.  Some of the guys I taught were also weirded out.

Yet some openly told me they thought it was totally awesome and brave.

Honestly, too, if I wasn't going to get made fun of for my hairy legs, I'd just be made fun of for my pock-marked mosquito scabbed legs instead, as it went in high school.  So I'd rather take the teasing with more comfort and less itchiness.

And after that it was just easy to stay that way. But I want to go swimming and the mosquitos for whatever reason aren't as bad here, so for today there was no reason not to.

I promise, more physics or otherwise science content, and stuff that isn't angry!, will happen soon.

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