It’s summertime and I’m busting out the shorts and tanks - I’ll wear just about anything to beat the heat! I’ve even started wearing shorts under my dresses. Partly because they stop my thighs from chafing, but mostly because I can run and play with my toddlers without worry. Even though my legs are bare for the world to see, I’ve shaved only about three times since March. For those of you who just clutched your pearls: yes, that’s less than once per month. At least you know I’m honest!
Billie, the razor subscription company built by and for women, recently released a new ad campaign. Called, “Red, White, & You Do You,” the commercial shows a group of diverse women enjoying a day at the beach. Some appear nearly hairless (save their heads), while others exist in various stages of unshaven. Several women have hairy underarms and *gasp* some even sport pubic hair! Billie is making a statement by embracing body hair. More power to them!
I’ve stopped shaving because I’m the mom of two toddlers.
I know, I know. Just because I became a mom, I don’t have to “let myself go”! Lots of moms balance multiple kids, self-care, work, play, laundry, and even a nightly glass of wine. Those moms have probably always been the type of person who diligently uses their planner. I am not one of those people.
There’s nothing wrong with shaving your body hair. Also, there’s nothing wrong with letting your body hair grow. Maybe I am making a bit of a political statement, but it began as a personal affirmation. I remember spending so much of my adolescence in a panic. If I missed a patch of hair on my ankle, I was convinced everyone else could not only see it - they were fixated on it. Every giggle was hiding a joke at my expense. How could I be so deficient, to have missed an entire one-inch square on the side of my ankle? Were my two millimeters of light brown leg hair going to keep me from making friends? Who could love someone so “gross” and unkempt?
Becoming a mom has indelibly altered my self-perception. Most of those changes have been resoundingly positive. Some have been hardwon, but others have been forced upon me against my will. Giving birth to my son made me feel like I had the strength to do anything. Surviving the early months of sleeplessness - not something I wished to manage - was oddly reassuring. I was capable of being hit by wave after wave of fatigue and setbacks without stopping. Maybe because I had no choice, I just kept trekking. While the newborn days are behind me, most of the mountain that is parenthood still lies ahead of me on the path.
Anyone who has hiked in the backcountry can tell you how important it is to pack lightly. Each new burden in my motherhood journey has forced me to put down an old one. If I want to prioritize taking my kids to the park, I have to leave the cute heels at home.
This melting away of what I brought into motherhood is at once painful and lovely. My children help me maintain perspective and focus on what’s important. But some of the things that got left behind on the trail are things I once enjoyed, the things I miss now. I enjoyed taking long uninterrupted baths with luxury bath bombs. I liked being able to paint my nails at my leisure. And I relished the quiet evenings reading books on my couch.
I will never miss shaving my legs.
No matter how diligent I tried to be in my shaving, my stubborn knees held on to stubble like a toddler grips a popsicle. Or I’d manage to get a smooth finish - and wind up with razor burn that itched and ached for days. Inevitably, I’d watch at least three ingrown hairs fester on my thighs, totally destroying my efforts to avoid being “gross”. Shaving has always been a recipe for disaster and an invitation to be hypercritical of my body’s natural state. I don’t need either in my life.
Yes, my legs are hairy right now. They’ll probably be hairy for another week or so until I manage to eke out the time to splurge on a little at-home “spa” day. I’ll slather on the Magic Shaving Powder, wait seven minutes, and wipe away my leg hair. If it doesn’t all come off in one go, I won’t bother reapplying. I’d rather put my mental energy into accepting my whole self as I am. And my whole self has body hair.