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April 13, 2010 8:54 AM   Subscribe

The New York Times covers a 'new celebrity trend', Unshaven Women, Free Spirits or Unkempt?
posted by zarq (272 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
I found a few additional links while trying to figure out ways to flesh out this post. Decided not to include them, but someone may find 'em interesting:

* Shaving history begins with shark teeth
* Shave Magazine
* The 'Kewtie' Woman's Razor
* Straight Dope: Who decided women should shave their legs and underarms?
posted by zarq at 8:55 AM on April 13, 2010


I quit shaving my legs years ago. At that point, I still lived in a place where I wore shorts from June to October, and I sometimes got funny looks or comments, but goddamn, not having to deal with ingrown hairs or rashes or cuts made it all worth it. Now I live in a place where I *might* be able to wear shorts 10 days a year (but I don't - I'm not even sure I still own any shorts), so it's even less of an issue. And armpits? Yeah, no shaving. It was too ouchy and I never did it regularly anyway.
posted by rtha at 9:03 AM on April 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Free spirits or unkempt? Is there really no other option? Y'know, like, 'normal'?
posted by shakespeherian at 9:04 AM on April 13, 2010 [33 favorites]


That raises the question: Is the fear that no man will want you and your hairy legs valid?

Is being afraid, especially given the images we're bombarded with and the fucked-up norms that are hammered home, valid? Sure. Is any man who actually doesn't want you because of your hairy legs a douchebag? Undeniably.
posted by Devika at 9:07 AM on April 13, 2010 [22 favorites]


In the 4th century BC, Alexander the Great encouraged his men to shave so enemies couldn't grab their beards during melees.

What a coincidence, that's exactly why I shave! And my male pattern baldness is clearly an evolutionary advantage.
posted by XMLicious at 9:08 AM on April 13, 2010 [8 favorites]


And on the other side, those of us men who shave 1.46 cats worth of hair of themselves every week.
posted by The Power Nap at 9:09 AM on April 13, 2010


Free spirits or unkempt? Is there really no other option? Y'know, like, 'normal'?
Or 'lazy'?
posted by fish tick at 9:09 AM on April 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


I could never give up shaving my legs; there are few feelings I like more than smooth legs on clean sheets.

(But yeah, can you imagine an article pondering whether men who don't shave are wannabe lumberjacks or just dirty?)
posted by sallybrown at 9:09 AM on April 13, 2010 [9 favorites]


^off themselves
posted by The Power Nap at 9:10 AM on April 13, 2010


Free spirits or unkempt? Is there really no other option? Y'know, like, 'normal'?

or French?
posted by gman at 9:10 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Free spirits or unkempt? Is there really no other option? Y'know, like, 'normal'?

or 'sexy'?
posted by Mister_A at 9:13 AM on April 13, 2010 [17 favorites]


(settles back with popcorn, munches quietly)
posted by jquinby at 9:13 AM on April 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


Shaved women, collaborators!
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 9:14 AM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


There are currently 221 comments on the article over at the NYTimes site.

I liked #63:
Boo to the people who are immediately dismissing this article as unworthy of inclusion in The Times. Or the folks who say it's "icky" and to just shave and not think about it, or that it's too private to write about (??).

I'm glad to see something that's a big huge elephant in the room is being talked about somewhat in the mainstream. Having a dialogue about the cultural history of body hair removal (or whatever people want to call it) is important. This is an adolescent angst issue as important for girls as getting their first bra or period. I'm all for bringing this stuff out into the open. Many women have memories as pre-teens trying to figure out what to do, and the familial silence that frequently surrounds this issue, as if it's shameful. My mom just handed me a razor and I had to learn myself, not realizing about the direction of the blades, and slicing my fingertips to ribbons. The teenage girls in my gym class used to run their hands over their legs and complain loudly that their leg hair was so long, "it was almost long enough to braid" (it was not).

The whole anthropological/sociological hang ups and beliefs that we have about women and body hair, and even men and body hair, are tremendously important to tease out and try to analyse. Why do women repeatedly get so almost uniformly teased and harassed and yes, even shamed about their body image, sexuality, etc., because they won't shave/wax/laser off one of the things that makes them a mammal--body hair? Something no one has brought up so far is the increasing obsession with more and more hair being removed. It's not "enough" to shave your legs, now it's Brazilian bikini waxes, women are getting rid of their arm (not underarm) hair, it's like they're completely denuding themselves. Many speculate the drive for the infantilization of female sexuality in our culture: young girls who are too young to really be aware of sexuality being sexualized, and everyone else over 21 trying to look younger. There are other anthropologists who connect much of this with the rise of Internet pornography, which features women with breast implants, no body hair, and Photoshopped to boot.

Please, people, don't dismiss this as an item not worthy of discussion. It is. Dig deeper and think about WHY you don't want to think about it. And, ... if you SAY you're cool with women who don't shave their legs/armpits/whatever, and you see a woman being harassed in public for it, stick up for them. Don't let the bigots have their day. If they don't like it, they don't have to look.

I went for many years to a liberal arts college where few if any women shaved, and a big city where I was rarely if ever hassled. Later, moving to the East and getting more jobs with "corporate" potential, it became an issue and now that I'm not regularly employed but living in suburbia, I sporadically shave whenever I need to, for swimming and in the summer, but I hate doing it, I have tried just about everything and it's painful and drives me nuts.

And now my 8 yo daughter, very smart and alert about gender issues, is asking why I shave my legs and Daddy doesn't. And why, if I complain about it, I do it anyway. If I'm telling her to follow her spirit and have her own fashion sense and not worry about being teased for having her hair short or her funky dresses and shoes and earrings, then why am I, in front of my daughter, kowtowing to these stupid sensibilities? What kind of example does that set for her?

posted by zarq at 9:16 AM on April 13, 2010 [26 favorites]


Since when is three people a trend?
posted by spicynuts at 9:18 AM on April 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


Proof that there are plenty of cute, cute girls who don't shave.

I grow a "winter coat" each year (nearly 10 years now) and shave in the spring; it's just too hot in Texas to have any additional insulation. But I'd stop even that in a heartbeat. I like how it looks and feels, and maybe more than that, I like not having to shave. It's a pain. Haters be damned.
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:20 AM on April 13, 2010 [9 favorites]


Since when is three people a trend?

You don't read the Times much, do you?
posted by rollbiz at 9:20 AM on April 13, 2010 [21 favorites]



I went for many years to a liberal arts college where few if any women shaved


I can already hear the virtual 'hippie lesbian' scoffs of dismissal without even checking the comments over there.
posted by spicynuts at 9:21 AM on April 13, 2010


My mom just handed me a razor and I had to learn myself, not realizing about the direction of the blades, and slicing my fingertips to ribbons.

Wait, was she holding the razor by the blades and running the handle over her legs?
posted by Greg Nog at 9:21 AM on April 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


So I don't shave.

I think sometimes people find it odd. Not people who I am close to. People at work, especially students.

No man has ever cared. I submit that most beauty stuff women do has nothing to do with winning the affection of men, and everything to do with winning the approval and/or envy of other women.
posted by mai at 9:22 AM on April 13, 2010 [26 favorites]


But yeah, can you imagine an article pondering whether men who don't shave are wannabe lumberjacks or just dirty?

Since you ask, I actually can - men having full beards isn't really that well accepted, in my experience, (Northeastern U. S.) and you do get those kind of comments.
posted by XMLicious at 9:22 AM on April 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


You don't read the Times much, do you?

I read it every day (and if I don't, I read MeFi, which these days is pretty much the same thing). I made that comment precisely cuz I read it.
posted by spicynuts at 9:22 AM on April 13, 2010


Dismissed as unworthy of discussion.
posted by mattholomew at 9:24 AM on April 13, 2010


hairy legs meh, hairy pits sexy
posted by nathancaswell at 9:25 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


"So what's the deal with Anglo-Saxons? Some lingering vestige of Victorian prudery? "
As an English-speaking white north American woman, my observations of my kind suggest that English-speaking white North American women are the highly suggestible type and also obsessed with how people see us. It's a recipe for disaster, or for easily succumbing to heavily marketed products and ideas. Of course generalizations do not apply to each and every person, but this is what I have observed.
posted by amethysts at 9:26 AM on April 13, 2010


my observations of my kind suggest that English-speaking white North American women are the highly suggestible type and also obsessed with how people see us.

You ever been to Japan or South Korea?
posted by spicynuts at 9:28 AM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


SOME grooming choices are so brazen that not even an A-lister can make them palatable.

Beg the question much, NYT?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:28 AM on April 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have to shave. Stubble is used as a weapon and I wind up cutting people. When my husband doesn't do what I want I rub my 2 hour stubble on his legs until he cries mercy.

I play a mean game.
posted by stormpooper at 9:29 AM on April 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


The real crime here, people, is that the Shave Magazine "friends" section links to a publication called "Muff Slap", whose byline is 'When you can't tap it, slap it.'

I mean...really?
posted by jquinby at 9:29 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


We each have a short time on this earth. Too little, perhaps, to reflect on celebrity armpit hair.
posted by swift at 9:29 AM on April 13, 2010 [19 favorites]


I personally don't see the problem with hairy legs-- I guessing because my biggest college crush didn't shave-- but hairy pits are just gross. I'm sure the latter causes more skin irritation than the former, but have we no standards?!

(This is tongue in cheek, ladies. Feel free to mock me for my antiquated concept of beauty.)
posted by shii at 9:30 AM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


"But yeah, can you imagine an article pondering whether men who don't shave are wannabe lumberjacks or just dirty?"

Since you ask, I actually can - men having full beards isn't really that well accepted, in my experience, (Northeastern U. S.) and you do get those kind of comments.


There was an ask.me about this a couple years back, actually; a bunch of people were like, "Go with the 'classic look' of a shaved face for your wedding!" I came down on the side of those claiming that a beard is itself a 'classic' look -- far more so than a shaved face.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:30 AM on April 13, 2010


It's an interesting point to think about and is a subject (the interplay of genes and memes) which may lead to a second synthesis.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 9:30 AM on April 13, 2010


Since you ask, I actually can - men having full beards isn't really that well accepted, in my experience, (Northeastern U. S.) and you do get those kind of comments.

Yeah, half-kidding Bin Laden jokes aside, this does happen. I spend roughly half of the year with a full beard.

I'll admit that I find women with leg and armpit hair unattractive. I'm totally cool with women electing not to shave, but I couldn't see myself with one who didn't.
posted by rollbiz at 9:31 AM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


My lovely wife has never shaved. So far one daughter has followed this trend. We shall see about the other in a few years. It's normal. Having shaved for many years, it sucks. But see, we are apes. And apes are hairy...
posted by Windopaene at 9:32 AM on April 13, 2010


Thanks for posting that comment, zarq.

I do think this is an important issue, and a really frustrating one. I hate shaving -- I don't do it during the winter and I've gotten to the point where I'm perfectly happy to go jogging or to go to the gym with my winter legs. However, there are still a lot of people in my life (even people who identify as feminists) who think it's "disgusting" not to shave, and I know I would face a really hard time if I showed up to work in a skirt without shaving.

I'm not sure that I'm brave enough to take the plunge, but I know that by giving in and shaving, I'm not making it any easier for anyone else who may be considering going natural.

(And yes, I worry, too about meeting men to date who won't be put off by hairy legs. It's one thing to say that men who don't want you because you don't shave are douchebags, but people are attracted to what they're attracted to, and anytime you make a choice that's outside the norm, you risk being rejected for it.)
posted by cider at 9:32 AM on April 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Accentuating secondary sexual characteristics by exaggarating differences between the sexes has been present since we first threaded a shiny rock with a hole in it to a belt. Ties, they are there to suggest that broad, flat sternum fully-developed males get. Eyeshadow? Draws the eyes apart, accentuating the orbital spread achieved as girls become women. Crotch-focusing belt buckles. Perfumes and colognes. Women have, on average, less body hair than men, so to have less hair is to appear more feminine. And then the men have the ridiculous beard fliration because it's "manly" — right up until the point where you realize that your fuzzy mug would fit right in on a wanted poster with a brief description of your trailer park arson. Personally, I wouldn't mind having every follicle starting at nose-height on down lasered into submission.

We are mammals; we have fur. We are primates; we tend to groom ourselves and one another. We are humans; we look at what other humans do. We are MetaFilterians; we can bean-plate anything.
posted by adipocere at 9:32 AM on April 13, 2010 [39 favorites]


Shaving legs just seems kind of weird. What next, shaving your arms?

The armpits, though? It's not even a men versus women thing. Shaving shouldn't be considered mandatory, but a little bit of trimming never hurt anyone. It certainly shouldn't be peeking out when your arm is down. Especially in the Julia Roberts picture, she wears a sleeveless dress, but flashes a hairy armpit? It's a bit much. Celebrating our bodies is all well and good, but when everything else is well-styled and coifed and such, an ungroomed armpit sticks out like a sore thumb.
posted by explosion at 9:32 AM on April 13, 2010


But a student of hers — a member of the manicured, plucked generation, as she sees it — once made a veiled reference in a performance review to how she found Ms. Anglin’s unshaved armpits “distracting.”

I'm hoping that performance review didn't go particularly well for the student.
posted by gurple at 9:33 AM on April 13, 2010


which may lead to a second synthesis.

Was there a first synthesis?
posted by spicynuts at 9:34 AM on April 13, 2010


We each have a short time on this earth. Too little, perhaps, to reflect on celebrity armpit hair.

Quoted for truth.

Some women like to shave their bodies and some don't. Why are we still talking about this?

articles like this is why when the NYT tries to make you pay for articles they will go bankrupt
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:34 AM on April 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Hey women, do what you want. I'm cool with it. (Not that my opinion should matter to y'all at all.)
posted by sciurus at 9:34 AM on April 13, 2010


I shave, but it's not for anyone else's benefit. I just don't like the way my skin feels with hair.
posted by biochemist at 9:37 AM on April 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Accentuating secondary sexual characteristics by exaggarating differences between the sexes has been present since we first threaded a shiny rock with a hole in it to a belt. Ties, they are there to suggest that broad, flat sternum fully-developed males get. Eyeshadow? Draws the eyes apart, accentuating the orbital spread achieved as girls become women. Crotch-focusing belt buckles. Perfumes and colognes. Women have, on average, less body hair than men, so to have less hair is to appear more feminine.

While I don't feel too strongly one way or the other about the body hair issue, I do admit that I find it off-putting when women refuse to tattoo "HEADS UP, DUDE, VAGINA ABOVE" on their inner thigh.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:38 AM on April 13, 2010 [9 favorites]


Since when is three people a trend?

Actually, for accuracy's sake, it was 8 people, including one who was photographed in 1979.

* Alicia Silverstone
* Mo'Nique
* Celine Dion
* Amanda Palmer
* Julia Roberts
* Madonna (in 1979)

and two non-shaving, non-celebs were interviewed:
* Danielle C. Belton, creator of blacksnob.com
and
* Bojana Anglin, a graduate student at the UC Berkeley

I do agree that this seems like a very small sample, which is why I put quotes around 'new celebrity trend' in the post. :)
posted by zarq at 9:38 AM on April 13, 2010


I went to a Catholic boarding school as a teen and noticed even the nuns shaved their legs.
posted by Dragonness at 9:41 AM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I only shave yaks.
posted by clvrmnky at 9:41 AM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


fiercecupcake: Proof that there are plenty of cute, cute girls who don't shave.

So, what I found interesting about this link was that I did find the girls cute, but that I was distracted by their obvious attempts to convince me that I should find them cute because of (not irregardless of) their body hair.

Look, ladies, I don't care. Do whatever you want. I'd still rather focus on your face than your armpits, shaved or not.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:43 AM on April 13, 2010


Actually, for accuracy's sake, it was 8 people, including one who was photographed in 1979.

* Alicia Silverstone
* Mo'Nique
* Celine Dion
* Amanda Palmer
* Julia Roberts
* Madonna (in 1979)



Of which only TWO actually DON'T shave. The rest did it a few times on random occassions and were photographed. So actually, it's two, not 3.
posted by spicynuts at 9:44 AM on April 13, 2010


Spicynuts - the synthesis of Darwin and Mendel.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 9:45 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


BTW, since this celebrity female trend directly contradicts the last celebrity female trend we had on Metafilter, I have a hard time taking either of them seriously.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:45 AM on April 13, 2010


I really want to skip to the end of the monstrosity this thread will eventually become so that I can see what we've decided, as a culture, women are allowed to do with their bodies in order to be acceptable.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:46 AM on April 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


And then the men have the ridiculous beard fliration because it's "manly" — right up until the point where you realize that your fuzzy mug would fit right in on a wanted poster with a brief description of your trailer park arson

Are you fucking serious?
posted by adamdschneider at 9:48 AM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I hate shaving. I have long legs and it's a pain. I'm naturally blonde, so I can get away with it easier than darker haired women. Best guess, I'd say I shave my legs at most six times a year. I think the removal of female body hair is a silly culturally practice, and I have no problem with my body hair. Shaving doesn't make me feel better about my body, so I can't really be bothered doing it more often.
posted by Ruki at 9:48 AM on April 13, 2010


@The Power Nap: So, I just wanted you to know that I parsed "I shave 1.46 cats worth of hair every week" as "I shave 1.46 cats every week," and that as such you're sort of responsible for me having spent the last 10 minutes giggling to myself about that mental image (mainly I'm thinking about someone taking precision measurements to make sure that they got juuust a little less than half of the second cat's fur.)
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:49 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Some groups of women have deliberately swum against the tide. Mo’Nique has called her au naturel legs “a black woman’s thing,” referring to some African-American women who used to be non-shavers.

Am I the only one having trouble parsing this sentence? It is relatively common for black women to not shave their legs. Both in the past and present.
posted by desuetude at 9:53 AM on April 13, 2010


Metafilter: "it was almost long enough to braid" (it was not)
posted by odinsdream at 9:53 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


The coolest women I've known have also been the ones who didn't shave; the 'not giving a fuck about this strange societal norm' certainly being a key aspect of their coolness.
posted by Flashman at 9:56 AM on April 13, 2010


I went for many years to a liberal arts college where few if any women shaved

I went to a similar college, and in that era many (though far from most) women didn't shave. I was recently back in that city and swung by the campus for a visit. My sense from just walking around is that even at the liberal hippy colleges, there are fewer non-shavers than in decades past, though I certainly could be wrong.
posted by Forktine at 10:00 AM on April 13, 2010


"You know what’s really cool? Wake up every morning, decide what you feel like doing, and do it."

Amen. Can we move on?
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 10:01 AM on April 13, 2010 [9 favorites]


Slightly off topic: I have a web site (blog) where I post a number of nude women. Every so often I post a babe who does not shave around her home base. I get from time to time an e-mail thanking me because there are not many pictures of unshaven girls on the net, I am told.
Seems the older folks fondly recalling what used to be.
The few women I know who did not shave armpits or legs told me it was a feminist thing. If men could let hair go unshaven , why not women? Not my cup of tea but then I prefer coffee.
posted by Postroad at 10:02 AM on April 13, 2010


Of which only TWO actually DON'T shave. The rest did it a few times on random occassions and were photographed.

You're making an arbitrary distinction. The article acknowledges that there are degrees -- some women don't ever shave and some skip doing so temporarily for time management, to please a lover, make a statement or for other reasons.

It then gives 8 examples of women who at various times have been either photographed in an unshaven state or who spoke about doing so in an interview.
posted by zarq at 10:03 AM on April 13, 2010


A boy in my daughter's class told her she had hairy legs. She is NINE! I remember leg hair anxiety in middle school, not third grade! (thankfully, the kid is an all-around jerk so I don't think she feels shame from his comment.) (and of course, I haven't shaved for nearly 20 years and her dad is very fuzzy so she knows body hair on men and women is normal.)
posted by vespabelle at 10:04 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is interesting. I shaved my legs and pits yesterday after not shaving for some time. The shaven skin feels good, but not good enough for me to keep up the whole routine.
I'm a lazy old broad and that is why I also don't color my hair.

Thank God, I'm not trendy.
posted by pentagoet at 10:07 AM on April 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Accentuating secondary sexual characteristics by exaggarating differences between the sexes has been present since we first threaded a shiny rock with a hole in it to a belt. Ties, they are there to suggest that broad, flat sternum fully-developed males get. Eyeshadow? Draws the eyes apart, accentuating the orbital spread achieved as girls become women. Crotch-focusing belt buckles. Perfumes and colognes."

Which gender comes up with the just-so stories?
posted by klangklangston at 10:08 AM on April 13, 2010 [11 favorites]


"What next, shaving your arms?"

Yeah, I know some people who do this. Men and women.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 10:09 AM on April 13, 2010


(mainly I'm thinking about someone taking precision measurements to make sure that they got juuust a little less than half of the second cat's fur.)

You generally don't shave the hair on the cat's head and feet, so that accounts for the missing .04 cat. Also, it's nice to leave a little on the end of the tail. That way the cat can pretend to be a lion and feel smug and dangerous, not all bitter because of the shaving. You get less determined biting this way.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:10 AM on April 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


Now I want to shave my legs to see what it feels like sleeping on soft sheets with naked limbs, but as a male, I fear my colleagues would accuse me of going through reverse puberty. It is the shorts season, after all.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:12 AM on April 13, 2010


GenjiandProust, you and Charlie Mingus could've written the definitive weird book on cats.
posted by Mister_A at 10:12 AM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


mccarty.tim, just tell 'em you're a bike racer. And seriously, yeah, it does feel good but it's a pain in the ass.
posted by Mister_A at 10:13 AM on April 13, 2010


... but it's a pain in the ass.
That's shaving the legs too far.
posted by fish tick at 10:16 AM on April 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


I was so frightened of hair growth as a young girl that I took scissors to my down theres. I was too young for a razor (according to my mother). I accidently cut my clitoris. That much blood for that much fear should not exist for a young girl who is not at an age where she willingly can conceive children of her own.

As an adult woman, I mostly go unshaven, but you know, I am human and I do "...decide what I feel like doing, and do it!"
posted by psylosyren at 10:17 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Man, when I was in high school we were on a bus trip to Disney, and I, swimsuit bottom as undies, was changing from my more comfy sweatpants into my board shorts ... and a guy friend of mine pointed and laughed and asked why I had hairy thighs. (It was a light fuzz at most, dammit!)

I occasionally shaved my lower thighs, but my mom had yelled at me for doing so and said nobody would notice anyway, so I stopped. I still remember how ashamed I felt with the eyes of the surrounding kids on me, looking at the hairy girl.

I dunno about white folks, but this particular complex still follows me around because my family's from the Asian subcontinent. In our first year of university, my boyfriend's friend - you know, the asshole in the friend group - said in a witty rejoinder that having sex with me was bestiality. Might've just been straight-up racism, but my mind went instantly to the high school incident. I wasn't part of that conversation, and I'm really glad I wasn't, because I probably would've cried or punched the guy or both.

ANYWAY. Suffice it all to say that this hair talk really gets my goat, and that anyone in this thread bored about talking about it shouldn't undermine the concerns of those of us that are.
posted by Devika at 10:17 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I went for many years to a liberal arts college where few if any women shaved

I went to a similar college, and in that era many (though far from most) women didn't shave. I was recently back in that city and swung by the campus for a visit. My sense from just walking around is that even at the liberal hippy colleges, there are fewer non-shavers than in decades past, though I certainly could be wrong.


I'm a fairly recent graduate of a Seven Sister college that was personified on the Simpsons as "Refusing to conform to gender stereotypes (by not shaving her armpits)" and while there were definitely women who didn't shave their pits, most did. But what really surprised (and kind of offended) me was the attitude of some of the shavers who thought it was weird and gross. I remember seeing Erase Errata play, and some hipster freshman girl who was standing near me was just horrified that some of the members didn't shave her armpits.
posted by radiomayonnaise at 10:17 AM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I came to say what Mister_A said. It's riding season, after all. I think the triple-reasoning behind this is actually sort of amusing.

Why do some cyclists shave their legs?

1. Because cycling is a tribal sport/activity, and many of the pros do it, so many of us do as well.

2. Because hairless legs make it easier to treat road-rash (so why not the arms, chest and back?)

...but the real reason?

3. Because it looks good. Muscle definition in the calves and thighs is easier to see without all the hair, and dammit, we worked hard to get them that way.

But yes, it's the big commit. Once you start, you sort of want to keep going (at least through the end of the season). It has given me, though, a healthy appreciation of what women go through on a regular basis.
posted by jquinby at 10:18 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's shallow or discriminatory to insist your partner's legs be shaved any more than it is to insist that they shower or brush their teeth.
posted by desjardins at 10:21 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wish I'd never started. Then I'd have tiny little blonde hairs and not this disaster stubble farm (which I frequently don't shave anyway, because to hell with it).

Best Boston roommate story ever: we're having a party. It's summer, it's hot. My male roommate from Vermont decides that now would be JUST the right time to step into the bathroom and trim up his armpit hair. (Our huge house has 9 roommates, 2 accessible bathrooms, and a TON of people over drinking enormous amounts of everything).

* POUND POUND POUND! * on the door
"Just a minute!"

* POUND POUND POUND! * on the door
"Just a minute!"

* POUND POUND POUND! * on the door
"Just a minute!"

* POUND POUND POUND! * on the door... "OH MY GOD, what are you DOING, you have been in there for FORTY MINUTES and we all HAVE TO PEE!"

Shortly thereafter he came out and admitted he'd started trimming his armpit hair but screwed up and slipped and took half of it off and ended up shaving all of it off.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:23 AM on April 13, 2010


I always shave under my arms (hygiene reasons), but I go back and forth on the legs. For the last eight months or so, my legs have gone unshaven.

I love the feeling. My skin is more sensitive, as the hair can pick up air currents. It's soft, not stubbly. There is really nothing like feeling a warm spring breeze on unshaven legs-- it's heavenly.

Eventually I'll wax, so the hair will grow back tipped and softer, but then I think I'll leave it alone again.
posted by cereselle at 10:25 AM on April 13, 2010


You know what’s really cool? Wake up every morning, decide what you feel like doing, and do it.

I don't think it's shallow or discriminatory to insist your partner's legs be shaved any more than it is to insist that they shower or brush their teeth.


I'd love to wake up in the morning and do what I feel like doing, but I'd also like to not be seen as filthy. It's not as simple as it seems.
posted by cider at 10:26 AM on April 13, 2010


(Sorry, I should have said that those two quotes above are from two different people.)
posted by cider at 10:27 AM on April 13, 2010


It's odd that the taboo is not shaving when you see ads like this UK female razor ad - "Mow the lawn."
posted by MuffinMan at 10:29 AM on April 13, 2010


Best Boston roommate story ever: we're having a party. It's summer, it's hot. My male roommate from Vermont decides that now would be JUST the right time to step into the bathroom and trim up his armpit hair.

I know the punchline was that he ended up shaving off all his armpit hair, but wait, when did guys start trimming their armpit hair?
posted by Atreides at 10:30 AM on April 13, 2010


I don't think it's shallow or discriminatory to insist your partner's legs be shaved any more than it is to insist that they shower or brush their teeth.

I don't think I understand the correlation.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:30 AM on April 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't think it's shallow or discriminatory to insist your partner's legs be shaved any more than it is to insist that they shower or brush their teeth.

Dude, totally. I just can't figure out why so many of my boyfriends refused to shave their legs. Maybe I wasn't asking right.
posted by stefanie at 10:32 AM on April 13, 2010 [20 favorites]


sexual characteristics by exaggarating differences between the sexes has been present since we first threaded a shiny rock with a hole in it to a belt. Ties, they are there to suggest that broad, flat sternum fully-developed males get. Eyeshadow? Draws the eyes apart, accentuating the orbital spread achieved as girls become women. Crotch-focusing belt buckles. Perfumes and colognes.

If only our norms evolved in such a neat and linear fashion. In fact, they're extraordinarily arbitrary and vary mindbogglingly from culture to culture and place to place. I'm sure there are neat and linear stories for how ear spools, say, or Burmese neck coils accentuate secondary sex characteristics that are desired, as well, but they aren't absolute; these particular aesthetics are determined not by some evolutionary design, but by the particular and ever-changing conditions of culture, climate, time, and place. Body hair in the West is no different, and as others have noted, the standards for hairiness/hairlessness for men and women are contextual and have been vastly different from place to place even within just the last two hundred years.

Do people adorn themselves? Yes, it's a near-universal human characteristic and a fundamental expression of human creativity and the individual consciousness. Are their choices determined by the need to reproduce? No way. While the impetus may stem from a fundamental "look at me," the specific variations in the expressions are much too great to be determined by purely biological causes. Standards of beauty are culturally and socially constructed - likely building upon the biological imperative, but in no way constrained or fully explained by it.
posted by Miko at 10:32 AM on April 13, 2010 [10 favorites]


I have a bumper sticker on my refrigerator that says I Can't Believe I'm Still Protesting This Shit. Surely it seems as if by now the mass media, having run essentially this same article more or less every summer since about 1969 - ohs noes! Hairy legs and armpits! Could the End be far off now? - could by now back off and shut up on what is or should be purely personal choice. For the record, I shave in the summer. I do not, mostly, bother in the winter. This works for me. I am going to go with the theory that most people are going to do what works for them and honestly, unless they've braided their armpit hair down to their hips and threaded chicken bones in the braids and then they start clonking people in the head with them on mass transit, I cannot see what it matters to anyone else at all.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:33 AM on April 13, 2010 [10 favorites]


I don't think it's shallow or discriminatory to insist your partner's legs be shaved any more than it is to insist that they shower or brush their teeth.

Yeah, I don't know about that... I think a better comparison is facial hair on guys. I wouldn't think a guy is a "douchebag" for not finding female armpit hair attractive any more than I would think a girl is a "bitch" for not finding male facial hair attractive. It's a personal preference.
posted by the other side at 10:34 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


And then the men have the ridiculous beard fliration because it's "manly" — right up until the point where you realize that your fuzzy mug would fit right in on a wanted poster with a brief description of your trailer park arson

Are you fucking serious?


In honor of my favorite beards (and mustaches):

My Beard
by Shel Silverstein

My beard grows down to my toes,
I never wears no clothes,
I wraps my hair
Around my bare,
And down the road I goes.
posted by sallybrown at 10:35 AM on April 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Atreides: I know the punchline was that he ended up shaving off all his armpit hair, but wait, when did guys start trimming their armpit hair?

When it starts looking like they're smuggling grizzly bear cubs inside their t-shirt sleeves, preferably.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:37 AM on April 13, 2010


I didn't shave my legs or armpits until I was in college. My rationale was that it was there for a reason, why remove it. I was mercilessly teased about this. I don't know why I didn't just shave; I've been called stubborn before. I remember being surrounded by a circle of six or seven girls who just kept pointing at my legs and haranguing me about shaving for a good half hour.

Now I shave my armpits because, in my experience, I'm less smelly this way. I shave my legs because my boyfriend likes them that way. I've always made the condition that if someone wants me to shave, they can pay for the razor blades. The only thing I dislike about shaving, other than that it takes time and I cut myself occasionally, is that I find I get more mosquito bites with shaven legs.

Body hair, whether legs, arms, back, face, head or genital region is a huge part of people's physical description.

I have to admit that I found Mo'nique's legs unattractive. I think that people should be able to say that they find unshaven legs unattractive. I find certain colors of lipstick to be pretty ugly too. The issue is when this becomes a value judgment - if I decide that I hate everyone who wears shiny beige lipstick or has unshaven legs.
posted by sciencegeek at 10:40 AM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think a better comparison is facial hair on guys.

I don't think it's a fair comparison, because there aren't any weird incredibly large social pressures on men to keep from growing facial hair or else be branded 'gross' or 'making a (ugh) statement' or 'dirty' or 'unnatural.'
posted by shakespeherian at 10:40 AM on April 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Speaking of Shave Magazine, I checked out their "The Women" link, thinking that it might, you know, be about the subject of this FPP, one way or another. Instead, it's this weird combo of articles both lad-mag arrogant ("Landing a Sugar Mama", "Getting Her To Lose Weight") and insecure ("Should I Leave Her?", "Is She Cheating?"). In theory, since I shave my pate, I should be part of the target for this thing--they even did a cover article on actinic keratosis--but it reminds me strongly of the first time I saw Maxim magazine, back in the nineties before lads' mags really hit big in America, and my friends and I discussed it as if it were an artifact from another dimension, which in a way it really was.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:41 AM on April 13, 2010


We have hair, sometimes it is nice to shave or wax some of it off, or trim it to be more pleasingly shaped. Right now I am personally going for more of the "totally untended hobo / wanted poster" thing, but whatever.

Unless you are talking about the poop getting caught in hair around someone's butthole, I really don't think shaving is a "hygeine issue".
posted by idiopath at 10:42 AM on April 13, 2010


I hate the fact that so many women are grossed out by female armpit hair, but totally accepting of male armpit hair. To me it's the most obvious expression of gender related self-hatred, and I wish as a society we would get over it.

Shave if you want to, but please can we move beyond women being inherently far more disgusting and unhygenic compared to men.
posted by Coobeastie at 10:42 AM on April 13, 2010 [16 favorites]


Just shave one pit. and the opposite leg.

If you're going to expend the effort, you might as well be original.
posted by jonmc at 10:44 AM on April 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


If my potential partners prefer baths, who am I to judge?
posted by box at 10:44 AM on April 13, 2010


I don't think it's a fair comparison, because there aren't any weird incredibly large social pressures on men to keep from growing facial hair or else be branded 'gross' or 'making a (ugh) statement' or 'dirty' or 'unnatural.'


Um, getting hired and holding a job? Most corporate jobs aren't too keen on the whole full-blown philosophy professor look.
posted by gagglezoomer at 10:49 AM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, and I guess I probably should have said more explicitly: what I say goes for women as much as men, and double standards about hairiness are kind of silly. Hairy legs? I've seen bearded ladies, its all good.
posted by idiopath at 10:50 AM on April 13, 2010


Unless you are talking about the poop getting caught in hair around someone's butthole, I really don't think shaving is a "hygeine issue".

But how the hell are you supposed to shave around your butthole, anyway? And is this one of those sitting/standing sort of debates?
posted by explosion at 10:50 AM on April 13, 2010


I can't be both a free spirit AND unkempt? POUT. This game sucks, I quit.
posted by clavicle at 10:51 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


explosion: squatting is the answer.
posted by idiopath at 10:52 AM on April 13, 2010


I don't think it's a fair comparison, because there aren't any weird incredibly large social pressures on men to keep from growing facial hair or else be branded 'gross' or 'making a (ugh) statement' or 'dirty' or 'unnatural.'

Actually, I think it's a pretty good comparison, though with some really important differences. The social pressures on men re: beards are huge, and are manifested heavily through employment limitations and casual social pressure. Definitely, growing a beard is "making a statement."

Where it differs, though, is with the whole idea of "cleanliness." Sure, a beard will get you jokes about "dirty hippies," but beards aren't associated with dirtiness (or conversely, shaven faces with cleanliness) in casual conversation the way women's body hair decisions are. Men and women's choices are policed differently, and part of that in our culture is the use of pseudo-sanitary concepts towards women.
posted by Forktine at 10:53 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't shave either.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:53 AM on April 13, 2010


I find armpit hair is kind of gross all around and conducive to higher levels of odor (the hair retains oil/sweat and prevents deodorants from laying down over the pores properly). And, perhaps I should refrain from offering up this factoid here in this forum, but removing armpit hair is a recommended practice for Muslims.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:55 AM on April 13, 2010


I don't think it's a fair comparison, because there aren't any weird incredibly large social pressures on men to keep from growing facial hair or else be branded 'gross' or 'making a (ugh) statement' or 'dirty' or 'unnatural.'

You're being just as ignorant as anyone who denies that these pressures exist for women, then, because they do exist for men. There is absolutely a perception that if a man isn't going to be completely clean shaven, he should at least have facial hair that requires regular maintenance. I don't know why this is, but it is.

As I said, I spend 6-ish months with a free growing beard, and then I cut it back for summer. I just did so last week, I went from about a 5 inch beard to a 1/4" inch one. There's a very noticeable difference in the way that I am treated by many people.
posted by rollbiz at 10:56 AM on April 13, 2010


Um, getting hired and holding a job? Most corporate jobs aren't too keen on the whole full-blown philosophy professor look.

This is an issue of personal grooming and you are creating false equivalence. Having wild unkempt hair or filthy clothes are similarly impediments to holding a corporate job, but this does not mean that men are held to a weird societal standard about the natural processes of their body being icky. As well, corporate standards are a different issue from general societal standards. No one will think a man is trying to make an antagonistic/fringe political statement by not trimming his beard, they will merely assume that he is a poor groomer. This is vastly different from the general reaction to women who do not shave their legs or underarms.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:57 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


When Hairy met Sally
posted by Kabanos at 10:58 AM on April 13, 2010


If I can shave my balls you can shave your pits.
posted by Cyrano at 10:58 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


psylosyren me too with the scissors accident!!! I remember putting reminents of clippings in the toilet and my parents FREAKED OUT. I lied and said I trimmed my bangs.

Well, I did (in a way).

I dont' know, seems that there's a bit of "hate on shavers". I shave. I like to shave (for the most part although razor burn looks/feels bad). Saw my friend at the hospital after she gave birth and she raised her arm. Not a fan. Not a fan at all.

If I could permanently laser that puppy off, I would. I know I could but 1) hurts like the dickens and 2) expensive.

So alas, I shave.
posted by stormpooper at 10:59 AM on April 13, 2010


but beards aren't associated with dirtiness
posted by MuffinMan at 10:59 AM on April 13, 2010


Blah blah blah, we've been having this discussion for decades.

Let's talk about men's pubic hair. I think it should be really short, if not shaven. That is, if you want any love down there at all.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:00 AM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


shakespeherian: I think you misunderstood (or I just didn't express it clearly). My comparison was much more in terms of terms of the way I see female body hair. That is, in the same sense that desjardins' comparison reflected his view of female body hair, which is apparently directly tied to hygiene (which, I agree, doesn't make sense unless you're willing to agree that all, or most, men are very unhygienic*). So the point of my comparison was not meant to be a reflection of the aggregate view of society (or of desjardins for that matter), but my own view on what I think would be a reasonable approach to the issue, which boils down to personal preference.

*Insert your own joke here
posted by the other side at 11:00 AM on April 13, 2010


The other day I passed a beauty salon, and a sign in the window said "FREE EYEBROW WITH EVERY PROCEDURE OVER $20."

I realize it was a mistake, but I do like the idea of somebody reaching into a sack to hand out free eyebrows. Then I'd wonder about where they got them and get all ticked off about third world orphans being exploited for their brows. or something.
posted by jonmc at 11:01 AM on April 13, 2010 [9 favorites]


I don't think it's shallow or discriminatory to insist your partner's legs be shaved any more than it is to insist that they shower or brush their teeth.

Huh? People can be clean and sweet-smelling regardless of body hair. I think there's a world of difference between expecting basic hygiene and expecting shaving.

I certainly wouldn't insist on any particular aesthetic styling decisions for my partner or vice-versa. I don't insist he pluck those stray hairs between his eyebrows, he doesn't insist that I grow a long flowing mane of hair rather than my spiky little 'do.
posted by desuetude at 11:02 AM on April 13, 2010


I don't think it's shallow or discriminatory to insist your partner's legs be shaved any more than it is to insist that they shower or brush their teeth.

Leg hair /= tooth plaque, FFS.

And are you totally hairless? Because otherwise by your own description, you might as well be covered in patches of rotting food particles.

This article is typical NYT link-bait, but, reading the comments there makes me grateful that I married someone who does not think it's his job to police my grooming regime.
posted by emjaybee at 11:02 AM on April 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


The Power Nap: "^off themselves"

Well that seems like a little bit of an extreme reaction to body hair, don't you think?

:)
posted by caution live frogs at 11:02 AM on April 13, 2010


Let's talk about men's pubic hair. I think it should be really short, if not shaven. That is, if you want any love down there at all.

No. It's should be untrimmed and freeflowing like women's pubes. During sex, it should look like two Cousin Its having a fight.
posted by jonmc at 11:03 AM on April 13, 2010 [19 favorites]


Leg hair /= tooth plaque, FFS.

I once had a conversation with a guy who compared leg hair on women to foot fungus. FFS.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:05 AM on April 13, 2010



You're making an arbitrary distinction. The article acknowledges that there are degrees


It's completely irrelevant, because my original comment was throw away anyway, but mostly I was arguing about the use of the word TREND. To my mind, calling something a trend and then offering at most 2 people who always do it and then 6 more who have been spotted once or twice in their entire career doing it....that's lazy journalism.
posted by spicynuts at 11:07 AM on April 13, 2010


Articles like this just make women who don't shave more attractive, really.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 11:10 AM on April 13, 2010


Hi, I'm nelleish, and I don't shave my legs.

I'm not making a statement by chosing not to shave, I don't give a hoot what other people do with their own bodies. I'm just exercising a choice that makes sense for me. Frankly I look more attractive with unshaven legs. I'm one of those lucky women who gets 5 o'clock shadows on their legs and all the salt and wetlands I'm exposed to on a daily basis wreak bloctchy, unhappy havoc on freshly shaven skin. I also simply can't come up with a compelling reason to shave my legs other than "It fits the social norm and serves people's expectations of me as a professional." Well, okay then. I actually struggled as an adolescent with the whole idea of female leg shaving, and didn't start at all until I was 16. I felt so silly about it all through college and so gave it up again when I was 23. I haven't looked back.

It's been an interesting perspective to have so many assumptions made about me as an adult woman who choses a different grooming regimen than what is standard in my society. I fully acknowledge I offer up my body for commentary by just going out in public, but it's made me really think twice the shortcuts I make to sum up other people at first glance. For what it's worth, I also happen to eat meat, be married to a man, bathe daily if not twice daily, and frequently shop at J. Crew.

On the other hand, unshaven legs does thoroughly give the "godless hippie" impression, which can save a lot of time.
posted by nelleish at 11:11 AM on April 13, 2010


There are still jobs in the US [at least] that have dress codes where one of the hygiene standards for women is having shaved legs/armpits. I find this problematic. I think the same is true for jobs that require men to be clean-shaven. I'd prefer if people could differentiate between what is actually a hygiene issue [tooth brushing, general grooming] and what is a preference issue [hair, unless you are at a swimming pool]. So the actual problem is that while you can insist that men with facial hair can have clean and groomed facial hair [I don't know how they'd say it exactly, but you know what I mean. "cavemen need not apply" or something] there's no equivalent for a woman's leg or armpit hair. And if you're not requiring men to shave their armpits, it seems really bizarre to me (who admittedly, was raised by hippies of a sort) to require this of women.

I live in a rural area and go to a local gym and the local standard here is that younger women shave in various ways and most older women [30 and up?] pretty much don't. Except sometimes in summer or for a special occasion. So, fashion is, as always, local and the New York Times is, as always, somewhat ridiculous.
posted by jessamyn at 11:12 AM on April 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


I went to a Catholic boarding school as a teen and noticed even the nuns shaved their legs.

Well, if they were like me, their legs itched like crazy if they didn't shave.

Also, depending on when this was (below-the-knee-skirt habits or lay dress with below-the-knee skirt) they would've probably been wearing pantyhose or stockings, which makes leg hair very obvious.
posted by jgirl at 11:15 AM on April 13, 2010


mai: So I don't shave.

I think sometimes people find it odd. Not people who I am close to. People at work, especially students.

No man has ever cared. I submit that most beauty stuff women do has nothing to do with winning the affection of men, and everything to do with winning the approval and/or envy of other women.
Pony request: I'd like to be able to favorite this 100 times. Not that you care that we don't care, lady-folk, but we really don't care.
posted by hincandenza at 11:16 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ok, this thread is making me feel guilty for shaving my legs. I'm generally pretty "fuck that shit" towards mainstream beauty standards (fat, pink hair, large tattoos, no makeup, carhartts and hoodies 95% of the time) but I cannot imagine not shaving my legs and armpits. I understand and totally agree with all the reasons not to, and I wish I could just say "screw it" and throw away my razor, but unshaven legs make me feel ugly in a way that none of my other unconvevtional appearence choices do.
posted by mollymayhem at 11:16 AM on April 13, 2010


OK, so, men, shaving is a million times easier if you use three times as many razors as you think you need to use.

The first time you shave your pubic hair, I suggest trimming first, of course. Then buy a bunch of cheap razors. Once any of them start to seem even the littlist bit dull, throw it out.* You can use 4 or 5, easily. It's pretty wasteful, so consider waxing.

I have no idea if waxing your balls would be difficult or unpleasant. I'm going to guess...yes, yes it would.

*Or save it and use it on your legs later, they're not as delicate
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:17 AM on April 13, 2010


I have no idea if waxing your balls would be difficult or unpleasant.

Not if you use Lemon Pledge to avoid that dull waxy buildup.
posted by jonmc at 11:19 AM on April 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's completely irrelevant, because my original comment was throw away anyway, but mostly I was arguing about the use of the word TREND. To my mind, calling something a trend and then offering at most 2 people who always do it and then 6 more who have been spotted once or twice in their entire career doing it....that's lazy journalism.

That's fair. I agree. :)
posted by zarq at 11:21 AM on April 13, 2010


The first time you shave your pubic hair, I suggest trimming first, of course. Then buy a bunch of cheap razors.

Huh? Are we talking about some kind of giant with many square meters of pubic hair?
posted by Burhanistan at 11:23 AM on April 13, 2010


If you have any shaving irritation, trouble getting a close shave, razor burn, whatever, try using many, many more razors than you think you need. You will be pleasantly surprised.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:27 AM on April 13, 2010


OK, so, men, shaving is a million times easier if you use three times as many razors as you think you need to use.

Wouldn't it make more sense to spend the money to buy one good razor with replaceable blades that have a moisturizing strip? The cheap ones give rise to razor burn more easily.
posted by zarq at 11:30 AM on April 13, 2010



But how the hell are you supposed to shave around your butthole, anyway?


Wax my anus!

posted by Halloween Jack at 11:37 AM on April 13, 2010


Speaking of Shave Magazine, I checked out their "The Women" link, thinking that it might, you know, be about the subject of this FPP, one way or another. Instead, it's this weird combo of articles both lad-mag arrogant ("Landing a Sugar Mama", "Getting Her To Lose Weight") and insecure ("Should I Leave Her?", "Is She Cheating?").

Wow, yeah. This is kind of a derail, but those articles? Horrible, horrible advice.

From "Should I Leave Her?":
There are certain psychological problems, primarily personality disorders, in which women are characteristically abusive, violent or just angry toward men. Borderline personality disorder is a diagnosis that is found almost exclusively with women. Approximately 1-2% of women have a type of borderline personality disorder.
From "Getting Her To Lose Weight":
Make some subtle comments about some of her close girl friends who live similar lifestyles. Say things like, “oh, she’s starting to put on weight,” or “she isn’t looking to healthy/good/attractive since she put on those extra pounds.” Try not to be rude about it and try to sound genuinely concerned. You don’t want to anger your girlfriend, especially if you are commenting on a friend that she looks up to.
Is this some elaborate form of trolling? I guess the readers are okay with it, because women like jerks amirite?
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:38 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had a Patton Oswalt-tastic racist cell phone moment with my mother when I was 17, in which I received a stern bitching-out in a public location because I hadn't shaved my legs before going for a physical, and did I want the doctor to think I was...

and I'm really sorry for quoting this, please be assured that I am quoting...

a Jew.

I don't... I can't... it's been 17 years and I cannot compass this statement whatsoever.

Needless to say, what you think of my leg hair's existence is pretty unimportant to me at this late date, because the anti-Semitic random-ass bomb has already dropped in my life and I kinda gave up giving a fuck about shaving after that one.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 11:40 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


If money and environmental impact are no concern, get the whatever razors you want, get a lot of them, and use a lot of really thick shaving lotion, reapplying constantly. If money is kinda a concern, get a lot of cheap razors.

I guess you could get one good razor with replaceable heads/blades but it's essentially the same thing, just more of a pain in the ass to replace the head instead of just picking up a new razor.

If you don't believe me, go to your gym (if they give you free razors) and try it.

Disclaimer, I have never shaved my or anyone else's face, so this advice is only for your body hair.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:43 AM on April 13, 2010


and I'm really sorry for quoting this, please be assured that I am quoting...

a Jew.

I don't... I can't... it's been 17 years and I cannot compass this statement whatsoever.


Maybe mom thought that orthodox women had some kind of payos happening under the skirt...
posted by jonmc at 11:43 AM on April 13, 2010


and I'm really sorry for quoting this, please be assured that I am quoting...

a Jew.


Don't worry. It's a refreshing change of pace not to hear antisemitism sourced from a Catholic Bishop or Reverend. :P
posted by zarq at 11:47 AM on April 13, 2010


Shaved women, collaborators!
That is just crass
posted by Flashman at 11:49 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


More than once I've found myself in conversation with a group of people where the "nastiness" of hairy legs on women comes up (along with all of the weird assumptions about women who don't shave) and I get the urge to do the hairy leg reveal and be all "ooh look at me, I defy your assumptions!!11!11!" but then I don't, because I could honestly give a fuck.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 11:54 AM on April 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


The coolest women I've known have also been the ones who didn't shave; the 'not giving a fuck about this strange societal norm' certainly being a key aspect of their coolness.
posted by Flashman


You're assuming that there aren't plenty of women that shave while still 'not giving a fuck about this strange societal norm'.

I think in general people are giving way more thought into this decision than they should. Might as well judge a person by their shoes.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 11:58 AM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I usually do, but sometimes judging their hair is the tiebreaker.
posted by box at 12:09 PM on April 13, 2010


When I saw the title, I assumed it was about women with visible facial hair keeping it. I then proceeded to boggle that in the 2010's we're still having this conversation about leg hair. (Not that facial hair would be anyone else's business, either, but I can recognize that's a choice so contraindicated by social norms that people would be talking about it.)

I guess I'm sheltered in my Berkeley bubble, where a preponderance of people would at least pretend to be non-judgmental in such matters.
posted by Zed at 12:12 PM on April 13, 2010


I've always thought that in an ideal world, men and women both would shave their armpits because hair plus deoderant plus sweat is nasty (and manhair in the pits is every bit as gross-looking to me as womanhair); and that neither would shave their legs. Ah well.

I always shave my armpits but rarely my legs.

The tone of that NYT piece didn't sit well with me. Unkempt? pshaw.
posted by torticat at 12:19 PM on April 13, 2010


no, NO, I like sweatiness, no one gets to shave their armpits, sorry, they just have to shower when I tell them to
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 12:20 PM on April 13, 2010


I've always thought that in an ideal world, men and women both would shave their armpits because hair plus deoderant plus sweat is nasty

Instead of shaving armpits, wouldn't it be easier to not wear deodorant?
posted by box at 12:32 PM on April 13, 2010


I haven't shaved in 31 years, and I assure you, no one at any of my jobs has known. What on earth are you people wearing to work? Mini skirts and tank tops?

Occasionally, someone will make a really nasty comment about my unshaven legs, usually in the context of the off-lead dogs issue in our local park. I've yet to figure out what leg hair has to do with my insistence that people who love dogs will keep them on lead.
posted by QIbHom at 12:36 PM on April 13, 2010


SOME grooming choices are so brazen that not even an A-lister can make them palatable.

Beg the question much, NYT?


Anal bleaching. It's GOTTA be anal bleaching.
posted by tristeza at 12:41 PM on April 13, 2010


I wasn't equating shaving to hygiene, necessarily, although I think shaved pits/pubes are less stinky. What I was saying is that having a preference for shaved legs does not make you a douchebag, as was stated upthread. I am sure there are some people who like stinky sex partners. Most do not. Most men, in my experience, prefer shaved legs, given the choice.
posted by desjardins at 12:44 PM on April 13, 2010


This makes me think about how much i hate it when people have disdain for uncircumcised penises. So, you're saying you don't like human bodies the way they are? That's a bizarre idea to me.

Ties, they are there to suggest that broad, flat sternum fully-developed males get.
Either that or they're there to suggest a giant, brightly colored arrow pointing to your crotch.
posted by cmoj at 12:46 PM on April 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Don't worry. It's a refreshing change of pace not to hear antisemitism sourced from a Catholic Bishop or Reverend. :P

Heh, on the other hand, I thought I was safe from seeing it at all in this thread.
posted by amro at 12:52 PM on April 13, 2010


Either that or they're there to suggest a giant, brightly colored arrow pointing to your crotch.

The other day, at the post-pinxno nuptual mefi boozeup at a nearby bar, there was a dude wearing a tie made to look like a fish.

Must've been fuckin' quonsar.
posted by jonmc at 12:53 PM on April 13, 2010


Not that you care that we don't care, lady-folk, but we really don't care.

We do care that you don't care, individual men-folk! We enjoy rubbing our hairy legs against yours. We enjoy feeling safe in our hairiness with you. We just don't like it when our society, composed of people (i.e. not just men or women), makes us feel like we need to shave before we're "presentable."
posted by Devika at 12:56 PM on April 13, 2010


Heh, on the other hand, I thought I was safe from seeing it at all in this thread.

Sorry. That story just ruined my whole week and I'm kinda grouchy about it.
posted by zarq at 12:59 PM on April 13, 2010


Sorry. That story just ruined my whole week and I'm kinda grouchy about it.

Don't be sorry: I meant I thought I was safe from seeing antisemitism in this thread. I guess I should know by now that it's pretty freakin' ubiquitous.
posted by amro at 1:03 PM on April 13, 2010


fairytale of los angeles, because I really don't want you to think that I might be grouchy over your comment, this is the story that ruined my week. Yours was just somewhat amusing and exasperating. :)
posted by zarq at 1:09 PM on April 13, 2010


I guess I should know by now that it's pretty freakin' ubiquitous.

Heh.

Do you think the Pope shaves his legs?

Excuse me, I have to go bleach my brain now.
posted by zarq at 1:11 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


"That is, in the same sense that desjardins' comparison reflected his [emphasis mine] view of female body hair,"

I love it when people make this mistake!

desjardins is of the female persuasion...
posted by Irontom at 1:12 PM on April 13, 2010


Most men, in my experience, prefer shaved legs, given the choice.

Right, but I think what we're talking about is how this is a societally-enforced beauty standard, and people prefer it at least in part because it is societally enforced.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:18 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wasn't equating shaving to hygiene, necessarily, although I think shaved pits/pubes are less stinky. What I was saying is that having a preference for shaved legs does not make you a douchebag, as was stated upthread. I am sure there are some people who like stinky sex partners. Most do not. Most men, in my experience, prefer shaved legs, given the choice.

But...you really really did equate shaving to hygiene. Quite directly.

I don't think that preferring shaved legs necessarily makes someone a douchebag.

But I find it odd to lump together personal hygiene with body hair length as oh, just two examples of "preferences." Whether this is intentional or not, you're coming off like "Oh, some people prefer showered, toothbrushed, clean-shaven partners, and some people prefer hairy, stinky, fuzzy-toothed partners...oh, to each his own!"
posted by desuetude at 1:22 PM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't shave anything. My mother didn't shave, it was not a norm in our household, and I don't do it. The only time I got any flack was when I visited New York City for the first time and I was eating in a restaurant. I raised my arms and these two white girls just stared and stared at me. That only strengthened my resolve not to shave. I point out that they were white because I never receive any guff about it where I usually am (surrounding by people of color like myself). I know many black women who don't shave, particularly middle-age and above, although my 20-something friends may shave one thing (usually underarms) but nothing else. No waxing, no shaving. I don't think there's anything wrong with shaving or waxing parts, but there is also nothing wrong with the way I and most of the women I know live and look.
posted by Danila at 1:24 PM on April 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


yes why don't dating sites give you the ability to sort by stinkiness and hair and nail length preferences? And operating system and preferred chat program?
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:27 PM on April 13, 2010


I can't wait to see how beauty/hygeine practices change over the next 50 years. Shaving your legs, wearing slips and panythose and douching were all things my mother's generation and those before hers did as a matter of course. In fact, already there are so many things that she did that I don't have to do. Girdles!
I wonder if women from 100s of years ago shaved --- they did have all those floor length dresses.....
posted by Geameade at 1:27 PM on April 13, 2010


Do you think the Pope shaves his legs?

In the woods?
posted by jonmc at 1:28 PM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


yes why don't dating sites give you the ability to sort by stinkiness and hair and nail length preferences? And operating system and preferred chat program?

A/S/L/OS/IM/BO/H/NL?
posted by zarq at 1:32 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I do not mind hair on women a bit. I am a guy. I shave my face. It isn't fun but I do not like the way my beard looks. It comes out spotted--brown, blonde, red, gray. I do not believe I have ever seen a man with a full beard in that condition. Are there guys who dye their beards?
posted by bukvich at 1:36 PM on April 13, 2010


And operating system and preferred chat program?

Where the BeOS women at?
posted by Zed at 1:38 PM on April 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


bukvich, that's totally normal, my boyfriend's beard does that, too...though if it bugs you, http://www.justformen.com apparently works for facial hair, too.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:38 PM on April 13, 2010


desjardins is of the female persuasion...

Ah, so she is! Gender fail... apologies, desjardins.
posted by the other side at 1:39 PM on April 13, 2010


When it all grows out, bukvich, it looks fine.

My husband has red/blonde/brown at various spots and I think it looks good. Then again he has sex with me a lot so I am very very biased.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:47 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Unshaved armpits are cool. How do I know? Two words.

Patti Smith.

Case closed.
posted by Splunge at 1:47 PM on April 13, 2010


Where the BeOS women at?

* waves *
[sorry fellas, already have a stinky hairy boyfriend]


Also, I've mentioned this before, but when I was in an accident [long story, my fault] and wound up at a strange hospital, the input form for me read, in part "smelly, unshaven, tattoos, etc." Not entirely sure how this was relevant (and I was coming home from Burning Man so shut up) but it's always sort of been a "brrrr" moment for me. I'm sure there's some amount of useful profiling a hospital can make with an unconscious person base don their appearance, but I was and still am sort of ... curious how unshaven could be a marker for anything useful.
posted by jessamyn at 1:48 PM on April 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


What was the 'etc.'?
posted by box at 1:54 PM on April 13, 2010


posted by jessamyn:
"I was and still am sort of ... curious how unshaven could be a marker for anything useful."

It's a sign that the regular strength stuff isn't gonna work as well; fill 'er up with the high-octane.
posted by dirty hippie at 1:59 PM on April 13, 2010


No really, that's what it said "etc."
posted by jessamyn at 2:02 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, yeah, I know--I'm just trying to figure out what goes with 'smelly, unshaven, tattoos.'

I'm trying to write a personal ad.
posted by box at 2:13 PM on April 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


"Admitted with well-worn Banhammer attached to Utility Belt."
posted by zarq at 2:15 PM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's a sign that the regular strength stuff isn't gonna work as well; fill 'er up with the high-octane.
posted by dirty hippie


If you're gonna trust anyone...
posted by gman at 2:18 PM on April 13, 2010


Must've been fuckin' quonsar.
Yeah, him and everybody else.
posted by Floydd at 2:20 PM on April 13, 2010


It comes out spotted--brown, blonde, red, gray. I do not believe I have ever seen a man with a full beard in that condition.

All grown-in and nicely trimmed up it can look pretty great, actually. My best friend's beard is quite multicolored like this. I don't recommend dying your beard because most men don't have uniformly colored beards, and it can look quite stage-y.
posted by desuetude at 2:26 PM on April 13, 2010


I think it looks fuckin' awesome. (1 2 3)
posted by gman at 2:31 PM on April 13, 2010


Yeah dyed beard is weird beard.
posted by Mister_A at 2:34 PM on April 13, 2010


I'm thinking of dying my beard hot pink, just to fuck with the gender police.
posted by naju at 2:42 PM on April 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


When I was 14 (and attending a hippy dippy high school), one of my classmates walked over to me one day, ran his hand up my unshaven leg, leaned in and said "You know, no one is ever going to date you until you shave this." I picked up his hand, returned it with some force, replied "You really are an idiot, aren't you", resisted the urge to punch him, and didn't shave my legs for years. Wore skirts every day, too. Even now, I only shave my legs once a year if I "have" to (for social/I don't want to hear about it nonstop for a week reasons; one of these people is nuts and can't be reasoned with, and the other lives in her own utopian world and wouldn't get it and would worry/fret about it the whole time).

I worked for a Big 6/5 consulting firm at one point, and my hairy legs were allegedly the impetus behind a memo from the tax side that all women had to wear panty hose to work because some tax partner was horribly offended at having to ride up the elevator with me one day. (I wore long skirts with my suits, but apparently he caught sight of a hair and his day was ruined! RUINED!) I was busy ignoring him when a female tax partner handed him a memo to send out under his own name revoking the order and subtly making him look like an even bigger jackass. Rumor has it that she basically told him to stop looking at women's legs and the day she let him dictate what she wore to the office would be the day she'd take her clients and go over to another Big 5 company.

I see no benefit (to me) in shaving my legs, actually. It just seems to make the hair grow back thicker and darker. I do periodically shave my pits just because it reduces the smelliness factor, and I can see an improvement to my quality of life. But I've never seen any improvement from shaving my legs.
posted by julen at 2:43 PM on April 13, 2010


I shave my nipples. It makes my man-boobs look sleek.
posted by Sparx at 2:46 PM on April 13, 2010


the input form for me read, in part "smelly, unshaven, tattoos, etc." Not entirely sure how this was relevant (and I was coming home from Burning Man

Yeah, yeah, I know--I'm just trying to figure out what goes with 'smelly, unshaven, tattoos.'

I'm trying to write a personal ad.


S/U/T/W. May cause burning man.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:53 PM on April 13, 2010


I shaved out of social pressure starting at age 12. I quit shaving at age 24 because I wanted to see what it was like. Enjoyed that for about five or so years. Decided at the end of that time, that I'd rather be shaven. There was a *part* of that decision that had to do with pleasing my partner at the time. But mostly, it's because I prefer it.

It is true, though. I felt incredibly conspicuous as a hippie and "lesbian" when I didn't shave (I was dating mostly women at the time). I felt like it was not too far from wearing an ATHEIST T-shirt to an American Family Council picnic. I think that the fact that this is still true and that people still obsess over it is so completely sexist as to be laughable.
posted by RedEmma at 2:55 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is so strange to me. There are many comments on the Times article from guys saying, basically, "Just shave your legs, no one wants to see your gross body hair," etc., and reminding women that if they want a man, they'd better "clean up." And I've just now read julen's comment about how some tax partner's "day was ruined" by seeing unshaven legs, and how he proceeded to file a complaint.

I just don't understand why so many men and women feel that other people's bodies need to be policed this way. If seeing a woman who doesn't shave ruins a man's day, why is it her fault? Isn't the onus on him? Shouldn't he feel the least bit of confusion over why his emotional state is so tied up in how other people's bodies look?

Insofar as remaining unshaven is (for many women) more comfortable and less painful for their bodies than the alternative, it amounts to a subtle form of resistance to the patriarchal status quo that I really admire.

Our culture seems to be perpetually at war against the human (and especially female) body. I'm sure the market won't be satisfied until every woman is shaved, sculpted, and made up into a sort of glossy doll and we're all spraying ourselves down with Febreze every hour on the hour.

Do we even want to live in physical reality anymore?
posted by cirripede at 3:24 PM on April 13, 2010 [9 favorites]


In college during the early 90s, I didn't shave at all. Now, I shave everything (arms included). I looooooove how it feels.
posted by _paegan_ at 3:27 PM on April 13, 2010


I am sure there are some people who like stinky sex partners. Most do not.
My lover's smell is so intoxicating, I wish I could bottle it. I imagine myself uncorking the bottle 20 years from now and having a deeply satisfying sniff. He apparently feels the same because he frequently burys his nose in my armpit-- that's why I don't shave and only very rarely use deodorant. If I do, I have to give him full warning-- Stop! No licking!

On the other hand I go overboard with the legs and shave every day. I've become accustomed to the silkiness of them and one day's growth is enough to irk me. I suppose there will come a day when I have to stop. 80? 90? My grandmother's kin so was so papery thin at the end (96) that a falling water bottle split open her thigh and it bled for hours.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:38 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I personally can't abide hairy girls. A lot of pleasure is derived out of running my hands over the softy smoothness. It's the same sort of tactile enjoyment I get out of putting my greasy fingerprints on somebody's double-parked Bugatti Veyron, or touching an eggplant or the smooth precision-tooled nose cap of an ICBM. I am also known for going into Versace stores and tugging on the buttons of jackets to see if they pop off, excusing my vandalism by explaining that I was examining the quality of the workmanship. Which, as it turns out, is quite sturdy, as those buttons take a lot of work.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:01 PM on April 13, 2010


Sorry, I personally can't abide hairy girls. A lot of pleasure is derived out of running my hands over the softy smoothness.

So do you shave your junk so you can have the same sensation when you jerk off? Just sayin....
posted by jonmc at 4:05 PM on April 13, 2010


So do you shave your junk so you can have the same sensation when you jerk off?

I Nads it. Them.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:06 PM on April 13, 2010


My love is not dependant on the friction-to-follicle ratio of my lover's skin. It's dependant on whether her checks continue to clear.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:10 PM on April 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


I guess I could clarify before I get smashed like a watermelon boat against the Cape Horn of indignation: by "can't abide" I mean it is my purely personal preference when it comes to the feminine aesthetic of my female partner, but at the same time I think it's a good thing when anybody challenges any preconceived social image "norm". If that makes me some kind of dank hypocrite then so be it.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:10 PM on April 13, 2010


I like beards.

And some people can really rock the shaved legs well.
posted by kaibutsu at 4:10 PM on April 13, 2010


You Nads Your Nads?
posted by jonmc at 4:10 PM on April 13, 2010


Oh, bother.
posted by Minus215Cee at 4:12 PM on April 13, 2010


You Nads Your Nads?

You betcha! A bottle of wine, some Morphine on the jukebox, soft candlelight. Just me, Mark Sandman, Wolf Blass, and a bottle of strong-smelling chemical depilating cream, applied in a circular motion and left on for two playthroughs of "Super Sex".
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:20 PM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


shaving might help you with that "dirty sack" problem you were having a while back.
posted by gman at 4:23 PM on April 13, 2010


Reading what the average news-website commenter has to say about women's bodies is what reminds me that people are, in general, still assholes.
posted by 235w103 at 5:13 PM on April 13, 2010


I found a few additional links while trying to figure out ways to flesh out this post.

Ha!
posted by Someday Bum at 5:35 PM on April 13, 2010


Secret Life of Gravy: Woah, unexpected erotic poetry. This is why I love MeFi discussions.
posted by shii at 6:11 PM on April 13, 2010


I have to admit that I found Mo'nique's legs unattractive.
I did too, but not so much because her legs were hairy but because she was wearing hose. Hairy legs under hose just looks disgusting (not to mention it must make your legs feel extra hot and sticky). She should have gone bared-legged, IMO. The hair probably would have been much less noticeable if noticeable at all.

It is relatively common for black women to not shave their legs. Both in the past and present.
This is my first time hearing this. I could understand it being a generational thing but not a cultural/ethnic one. Does not compute...
posted by fuse theorem at 6:15 PM on April 13, 2010


I shave my nipples. It makes my man-boobs look sleek.
Wait. What?
posted by stoneweaver at 6:25 PM on April 13, 2010


It is relatively common for black women to not shave their legs

I could understand it being a generational thing but not a cultural/ethnic one. Does not compute...


One of my friends way back in middle school, who was black, said that she didn't shave because her skin was more prone to ingrown hairs. I haven't thought about it since that day, and it might be completely wrong, but there were other skin- and hair-care things that we did differently and maybe there is some truth to it. I'll let others who probably have more perspective on how accurate that might be address the issue, but it might not be so much cultural as simply an issue of the whole endeavor being more of a pain in the ass for some people than for others, based on your skin and hair type.
posted by Miko at 7:00 PM on April 13, 2010


It is relatively common for black women to not shave their legs. Both in the past and present.
This is my first time hearing this. I could understand it being a generational thing but not a cultural/ethnic one. Does not compute...


Well, start discreetly looking at the legs of black women, and I'll bet you'll notice a greater number of fuzzier legs than you expected, especially for women not dressed up for special events. It's partially (as I am given to understand, myself being the color of milk) that sometimes the texture of the hair is a little more difficult to shave, and partially that some black women grow up being told that it is "something white women do and black women don't" -- thus there's less expectation that legs be fuzz-free to compel women to mess with it.
posted by desuetude at 8:02 PM on April 13, 2010


I wasn't aware (until Googling it just now) that Nads had come out with a depilatory cream. Reading some of the comments above I was imagining a fellow using the cold wax to depilate his sac, and the picture was not pretty.
posted by Lexica at 8:33 PM on April 13, 2010


Are there guys who dye their beards?

Muslim guys are allowed to dye their beards as long as it is not the natural color of their hair. Thus the henna-ed out sheikhs in gman's links.
posted by BinGregory at 8:43 PM on April 13, 2010


More on the orange beard thing, from AskMe.
posted by jessamyn at 9:05 PM on April 13, 2010


sometimes the texture of the hair is a little more difficult to shave
This I can't see. I couldn't imagine it being any more difficult than the hair under the arms, in fact it would probably be less difficult because it probably wouldn't get as long as underarm hair can get.

some black women grow up being told that it is "something white women do and black women don't"
This is bothersome to me. I am definitely not pointing any fingers at you but this seems to be verging on a stereotype. I have a hard time believing that Black women would specifically tell their daughters not to shave their legs, and particularly because it's a racial thing. And I'm having a hard time coming up with a physiological reason why Black women would have been warned against shaving their legs unless they were predisposed to ingrown hairs. Maybe it's more like it just never comes up? There must be more to this...
posted by fuse theorem at 9:48 PM on April 13, 2010


The Googleable phrase you are looking for is Pseudofolliculitis Barbae. Wikipedia says "Men of African, Mediterranean, Jewish descent, and other peoples who have naturally coarse or tightly curling hair will often get 'razor bumps' in their beards." which is, of course, interesting because it ties in nicely with the "hey Jewish girls don't shave" line above. My best guess is that since men in more curly-haired cultures got these nasty bumps so often, the cultures were less "shavey" cultures to begin with. Happens in the genital area too. Doen't happen if you don't shave. And, because of this, the other great fact from Wikipedia: "The 8th circuit court found that, because African Americans suffer from pseudofolliculitis barbae more than whites, Domino's Pizza's no-beard policy violated the 1991 Civil Rights Act"

Pow.
posted by jessamyn at 9:53 PM on April 13, 2010 [10 favorites]


If money and environmental impact are no concern, get the whatever razors you want, get a lot of them, and use a lot of really thick shaving lotion, reapplying constantly. If money is kinda a concern, get a lot of cheap razors.

So ... are we dating now?
posted by krinklyfig at 10:33 PM on April 13, 2010


the whole full-blown philosophy professor look

OH YEAH BABY
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:56 PM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I could never give up shaving my legs; there are few feelings I like more than smooth legs on clean sheets.

(But yeah, can you imagine an article pondering whether men who don't shave are wannabe lumberjacks or just dirty?)
-- sallybrown

If I don't shave my legs I'm a wannabe lumberjack? Now I feel dirty.

More seriously, there are quite a few articles just like this.

I'm getting the impression that a lot of women just don't realize that there is quite a lot of pressure on men to shave their faces. I'd rather not shave my face, but I do because it is expected. I assume that is true for a lot of women with their legs.
posted by eye of newt at 12:25 AM on April 14, 2010


I understand how men would grow to resent having to shave their faces every day. My husband fusses over his mustache, asks me my opinion regularly (like I care), and can get away with khakis and a Hawaiian shirt or polo for office attire. I know plenty of folks who are required to wear a suit, and I realize that generally entails having a clean-shaven face daily and a haircut on a regular basis. That's not the job path my husband and I are following, thankfully.

For women, I feel like it would be one thing if it were only legs OR armpits OR pubic areas. You know, just one or two things, like shaving a beard and getting a haircut on a schedule. Instead, if one gives credence to media opinion, it seems like we're almost required to wax our bodies from eyebrows to toes, have the same required frequency of haircuts/styles (more expensive than the fellas, of course), and even mani/pedis, if we're to be taken seriously. Please don't forget wearing makeup daily and having perfect hair, so more product and time.

My personal beef with this outlook is that it's more time-consuming and expensive for women in the workforce. As a rule, I get paid less than most men doing the same job, so why should I spend more resources to attempt to look like an child-like doll? I stay bathed, well-groomed, and dressed appropriately for my job. I've been doing my job for 7 years now, and I'm very, very good at it. Do I really need to do more than that?

Granted, at my age, I'll be glad to not be growing a mustache myself before long. I'm frankly just tired of worrying about other people's expectations if I wear short socks and the leg of my jeans rides up a bit high if I neglected to shave my legs for however long. Thankfully, I get taken more seriously in my workplace because I wear no makeup, simple hairstyles, jeans, and over-sized shirts. Being more androgynous, sisterly, or aunt-like works for me, and I am so very glad for it. There is no reason for anyone at my job to ever see what condition my armpits are in. By the rules given to me, and the gentlemen I work with, I'm not allowed to wear shorts or sleeveless tops to work. In the summer, I sometimes wear long skirts, but then I tend to shave my legs in the summertime.

To me, shaving body hair, like makeup and special hairdos, is for special occasions. I'm pretty sure the one of the last few times I bothered to shave my legs and pits was for the 10th anniversary meetup of MeFi. I almost bothered for spring break when we were visiting the in-laws, but then it rained and snowed. Long pants, long sleeves, and knee socks for the win. I suppose I'll get around to it in a week or two.
posted by lilywing13 at 2:20 AM on April 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


explosion wrote: "What next, shaving your arms?"

I actually know someone who does that. I think it's ridiculous, she looks fine the way she is, but people have their hangups, I guess.

I don't get the whole "women have to shave" thing. There's something about a woman not shaving her pits that mildly squicks me out (although I fully recognize that's my own problem, not anyone else's), but other than that I couldn't care less. Hair, no, whatever. Just no stubble if you're going to be touching me with it, for the love of everything good and right with the world. Pick one or the other, please!

Anyway, I'd be a hypocrite if I expected anyone else to shave. I have a beard because I'm too lazy to shave enough to not have a beard, even though it grows slowly enough once a week would be sufficient to keep it "not a beard". I'd be more interested in the project if I could find any one of my three electric razors...
posted by wierdo at 4:06 AM on April 14, 2010


Geez, Domino's, how do you manage to stay in business? Beard prohibitions, redlining, antichoice donations, and now that campaign where they talk about how awful their pizza is.
posted by box at 4:51 AM on April 14, 2010


Take a good look at the NBA. Most of those guys shave their pit hair.
posted by srboisvert at 5:07 AM on April 14, 2010


And they put the hair in the pizza? My God, it all makes sense now.
posted by box at 5:46 AM on April 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thank the gods that this thread does not proportionally reflect the views of American women in general.
posted by bingo at 5:58 AM on April 14, 2010


Thank the gods that this thread does not proportionally reflect the views of American women in general.
Yes, what a relief that in the real world all the women are not gorillas like the hags at MeFi.
(Hairy hamburger)
posted by fish tick at 6:18 AM on April 14, 2010


Take a good look at the NBA. Most of those guys shave their pit hair.

In the case of athletes, special conditions apply. It's already been mentioned that a lot of swimmers and cyclists shave. With basketball players, who get sweaty and whose uniforms are sleeveless, I would imagine that the concern about the chafing that would be caused by sweat-dampened hair overrides concerns about encouraging ingrown hairs.
posted by Miko at 7:22 AM on April 14, 2010


Thank the gods that this thread does not proportionally reflect the views of American women in general.

Thank the gods there is a ready supply of men who are willing to let the women in their lives define their own standards of beauty.
posted by Miko at 7:23 AM on April 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thank the gods that this thread does not proportionally reflect the views of American women in general.

Thank heaven women exist in this world who are confident enough in their own femininity and sense of self-worth that they don't feel the overwhelming urge to mold themselves to another's arbitrary, artificial standards.
posted by zarq at 7:28 AM on April 14, 2010


Thank the gods that this thread does not proportionally reflect the views of American women in general.

I love you all very much but I thanks the gods regularly that MetaFilter does not proportionally reflect the views of Americans in general on most topics. Except perhaps pie.
posted by jessamyn at 7:56 AM on April 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


The Googleable phrase you are looking for is Pseudofolliculitis Barbae. Wikipedia says "Men of African, Mediterranean, Jewish descent, and other peoples who have naturally coarse or tightly curling hair will often get 'razor bumps' in their beards."

I have curly hair and have gotten those bumps before, mostly on my neck. I also tend to get ingrown hairs in my beard. I avoid them by shaving using hot water, a good quality, sharp razor blade that I change often, such as Gillette's Fusion (if I used a straight razor, I'd probably accidentally off myself -- can't have that,) and higher qualityshaving creams and lotions. I do have an electric razor which I use to trim edges and stuff, but only very rarely use its heads against my face.

Cheap blades, as I mentioned to IFDS, SN9 earlier, just destroy my skin.
posted by zarq at 8:00 AM on April 14, 2010


I have that condition as well. It took me over a decade of shaving agony until I just decided a beard is the only way to go (ignoring the "you look like a terrorist!" scolding from relatives.) It kind of sucks because when I'm interviewing for jobs, I have to make the decision of whether to keep the beard and risk looking unprofessional, or shave and have unsightly discolorations and scarring. Most people I've met have no idea that this condition is actually fairly common among certain ethnicities. So yeah, I think the "clean-shaven" look is an entirely unfair thing to enforce in the corporate world.
posted by naju at 8:27 AM on April 14, 2010


This is bothersome to me. I am definitely not pointing any fingers at you but this seems to be verging on a stereotype. I have a hard time believing that Black women would specifically tell their daughters not to shave their legs, and particularly because it's a racial thing. And I'm having a hard time coming up with a physiological reason why Black women would have been warned against shaving their legs unless they were predisposed to ingrown hairs. Maybe it's more like it just never comes up? There must be more to this...

You don't have to believe me, you can believe "Danielle C. Belton, creator of blacksnob.com, a blog of politics and culture, said that when she was growing up, her Southern-born parents would not allow her to shave her legs. Their response circa 1992? “That’s something white people do.”

I'm not stereotyping black women as anything, though. I have no qualitative opinion on leg hair or what it does or does not mean about a person. I was just noting that, as also referenced by Mo'nique in the linked article, leg-shaving isn't reinforced as such a mandatory thing if you get a little more racially inclusive in your sample size.

But there are plenty of aesthetic practices that are reinforced within ethnic/racial groups, and not because they necessarily have any sort of really deep political meaning. We just do what our moms teach us as a habit. When I was a little girl, my mom didn't lotion my legs before I left the house to keep them from looking ashy. Now, it happens that I have really dry skin and could've used such a habit, but dry skin isn't as visible on pale skin and thus it's not such a de rigeur part of the "looking presentable at school or church" ritual as it was for my black friends.
posted by desuetude at 8:31 AM on April 14, 2010


There are no gods.
posted by box at 8:38 AM on April 14, 2010


There are no gods.
There are probably no gods. Now stop shaving and enjoy your life.
posted by fish tick at 8:53 AM on April 14, 2010


...Except perhaps pie.

And bacon. We seem to be on the same track with everyone else about bacon.
posted by dog food sugar at 10:31 AM on April 14, 2010


I love you all very much but I thanks the gods regularly that MetaFilter does not proportionally reflect the views of Americans in general on most topics.

That's fine, Jessamyn, but in cases like this, the skewed representation starts to become surreal. There are millions of women who like themselves and their bodies and still shave their legs and armpits regularly. They just don't self-select to end up on Metafilter, or if they do, they don't self-select to end up commenting in threads like this one. So we end up getting a conversation that starts to sound as if there are only a handful of women left on earth who do it, and they are all oppressed, deluded people with no self-esteem.
posted by bingo at 10:32 AM on April 14, 2010


So we end up getting a conversation that starts to sound as if there are only a handful of women left on earth who do it, and they are all oppressed, deluded people with no self-esteem.

I'm not reading that at all. There is nothing, nothing at all, wrong with a thread that has a bunch of people who agree with each other in it. Many people have supported shaving in this thread and many people haven't. What we haven't seen a lot of is HURF DURF I LIKE 'EM BALD and a whole bunch of other "who asked you" types of responses from people who just like to dictate how other people should groom themselves and expect anyone else to care. Got a partner preference? Super. Got a "this is how women who are not even my partner should look" preference? Some people have mentioned how that might be problematic.

I don't think anyone is saying "hey since there is a lot of support for non-shaving here on MeFi, let's all grow our leg hair out and expect to be welcomed with open arms at the local clubs and eateries!" This is not a movement. This is some people saying that the New York Times is sort of silly, that fashion and grooming choices are complicated, and how individual people are deciding to make their choices.

Sure there's a few crabby people who can't believe that other people don't share their grooming tastes but I see very few of them. The fact that MetaFilter does not reflect The Real Word should come as a surprise to no one though it may explain why some people like it here.
posted by jessamyn at 10:59 AM on April 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Did someone mention pie?
posted by sciurus at 11:01 AM on April 14, 2010


bingo: I find the transition from a bunch of people saying "don't call me gross just because I shave my legs" to someone hearing a bunch of people say "women who shave their legs are self hating" kind of odd, myself.
posted by idiopath at 11:02 AM on April 14, 2010


So, you're saying you don't like human bodies the way they are?

Yes. Despite poetic wishing, the human body is not a glorious sculpture. It's pretty nice in some places and awkward in some other places and even really fucked up in other places. And, sad to say (horror shock shock horror), some folks have a desire to modify some of those parts.
posted by grubi at 11:05 AM on April 14, 2010


grubi: "ome folks have a desire to modify some of those parts"

says the guy with a full beard in his profile pic ;)
posted by idiopath at 11:44 AM on April 14, 2010


idiopath: bingo: I find the transition from a bunch of people saying "don't call me gross just because I shave my legs" to someone hearing a bunch of people say "women who shave their legs are self hating" kind of odd, myself.

This comment from zarq is a good example:

Thank heaven women exist in this world who are confident enough in their own femininity and sense of self-worth that they don't feel the overwhelming urge to mold themselves to another's arbitrary, artificial standards.


jessamyn: What we haven't seen a lot of is HURF DURF I LIKE 'EM BALD and a whole bunch of other "who asked you" types of responses from people who just like to dictate how other people should groom themselves and expect anyone else to care.

Yeah, you're right about the hurf durf, but another thing we're not seeing a lot of here is men saying - in any manner whatsoever - that they like women without hairy armpits and legs. And, in my opinion, one reason that's not happening is because of a realistic fear of being heard only as "hurf durf," no matter how carefully or politely such an opinion might be expressed. Similarly, I can think of a number of active female mefites who definitely shave their legs regularly, but who haven't chimed in here, and I'm guessing it's not because they were too busy with work.

There is indeed nothing wrong with a thread full of people agreeing... if I thought there was, I would have posted to metatalk. But I wanted to point out that, in my opinion, the reason this thread is generally so full of agreement is not because the popular opinion is so obviously the right one. It's because people who don't agree with the popular opinion can't be bothered to step into the implicit pile-on that was gearing up from the moment this thread started.
posted by bingo at 11:51 AM on April 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


says the guy with a full beard in his profile pic ;)

Oh absolutely. But I tend not to shave for two reasons: most of the time I think I look just fine with a beard and more importantly I hate shaving. Ugh. But, hey, I do it once in a while. And I don't fault people for not doing the same if they don't give me crap for m shaving habits.

To invoke two things that others have brought up: I also have every color whisker that occurs in nature (including one I found that was a color that doesn't occur in nature: green!), all mixed up to give the whole a reddish-brown cast.

And, being a gentleman of Mediterranean descent, I get ingrown hairs (what looks like acne on my body is, times out of 10, an ingrown hair) and shaving bumps. (Not horribly.)

Also (since I suspect we're collecting opinions) I prefer the look of a woman with shaved legs and pits, I don't hate on those who don't. My wife hates the routine of shaving but prefers the look and feel of the end product.
posted by grubi at 12:01 PM on April 14, 2010


This comment from zarq is a good example:

That comment was a direct and intentionally hyperbolic response to your comment.

I appreciate what you're saying bingo and yet at the same time it seems to me that this is the nature of discussions about non-mainstream issues generally. People who are actively involved in something mainstream don't often feel the need to show up and say "just as a data point, I act like most people" but people do feel the need to be counted when the topic is something more non-mainstream that they participate in. If people are afraid to participate, they can say something or go to MetaTalk. I don't think anyone is fooling themselves that agreement on a topic in a MeFi thread says anything about consensus on the topic even among MeFites.

There's no right opinion to whether people should shave their legs, but it would be better in my opinion if people felt free to make the choice for themselves without other people trying to bring social pressure to bear on their choices in any direction, really. However people who choose to shave can be assured that they are doing the more common thing in American society.

Put another way, any woman who decides to not shave their legs most places in American society will frequently have to defend that choice to other people, friends and even strangers and deal with a certain amount of harassment. People who do shave their legs will rarely have to deal with this. There is no such thing as an "implicit pile-on" and in this thread there also isn't an explicit one.
posted by jessamyn at 12:09 PM on April 14, 2010


Curses, jessamyn. Once again my grumpiness has been neutralized by your even-handedness. We shall meet again.

*Runs screaming into the night.*
posted by bingo at 12:30 PM on April 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


*shaves entire thread*
posted by jonmc at 12:30 PM on April 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, you're right about the hurf durf, but another thing we're not seeing a lot of here is men saying - in any manner whatsoever - that they like women without hairy armpits and legs.

So?

I like women. I like 'em shaved. I like 'em unshaved. Armpits, pubes and legs. Hairy. Not hairy. It's all good. I didn't weigh in with that opinion because really, who gives a damn what my personal preference is? I certainly didn't hold back out of fear that what I like about women wouldn't be accepted, or that I would somehow be shouted down.

This comment from zarq is a good example:

You made a snide comment in this thread that you were thankful that most of the rest of the women in this country conformed to your personal preferences, unlike the women here on Metafilter. Hence, my response to you.
posted by zarq at 12:32 PM on April 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


jonmc: "*shaves entire thread*"

*uses thread to shave with*
posted by idiopath at 12:33 PM on April 14, 2010


So... have any of you ever also had a moment right after you hit "Post Comment" when you suddenly thought to yourself, "Gee, I just WAY overshared with the group?" Yeah.
posted by zarq at 12:49 PM on April 14, 2010


Nah, I just get that moment where I go, "Wow, Zarg way overshared with us again!"
posted by Atreides at 1:22 PM on April 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks!
posted by zarq at 1:23 PM on April 14, 2010


I wish I had spotted this yesterday when I was looking for links for the post.

From the Huffington Post: Jessica Alba Forgets To Shave Her Armpits (PHOTOS)

The piece accumulated four pages of comments before it was closed. Nearly every one supported Ms. Alba and/or attacked the HP for digging themselves an all time low.
posted by zarq at 1:33 PM on April 14, 2010


From the Huffington Post: Jessica Alba Forgets To Shave Her Armpits (PHOTOS)

Wow. I was pretty much done with HuffPo awhile back but that really sealed it for me.

HuffPo, you started out with such high hopes and ideals, but now you're a celebrity gossip rag. When you've become indistinguishable from TMZ, it's time to really sit down and ponder your own relevance.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:38 PM on April 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


That HuffPo article is ... I'm wordless.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 2:02 PM on April 14, 2010


The person who filed the story, Katherine Thomson, is not an intern at HP the way one of the comments suggests. She's their senior features editor.
posted by zarq at 2:05 PM on April 14, 2010


I clicked to HuffPo, expecting something on the order of the Amanda Palmer red carpet armpit display... self-aware, deliberate, completely unshaven. Not attractive, in my opinion, but at least she owned it.

The Huffpo/Alba thing is shameful simply because, even if you don't like armpit hair, it's a non-story. Her armpits actually look pretty shaved. I'm sure if they zoom in close enough, they might pick up some bacteria living in her skin, too.
posted by bingo at 2:16 PM on April 14, 2010


Yeah, you're right about the hurf durf, but another thing we're not seeing a lot of here is men saying - in any manner whatsoever - that they like women without hairy armpits and legs. And, in my opinion, one reason that's not happening is because of a realistic fear of being heard only as "hurf durf," no matter how carefully or politely such an opinion might be expressed.

Without getting into HURF DURF PATRIARCHY OPPRESSION, I thought that having a discussion about leg hair and pit hair that didn't immediately turn into a bunch of men telling women their aesthetic standards was a feature, not a bug. The comments about men's issues with their own body hair have been interesting, but men pontificating about women's beauty/hygiene/etc. issues is standard web fare and I'm not sorry this discussion lacked it.
posted by immlass at 2:21 PM on April 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


From the Huffington Post: Jessica Alba Forgets To Shave Her Armpits (PHOTOS)

four pages of comments


Jesus. Can we please just shave according to our preferences and leave it at that? And deal with any conflicts with others' preferences accordingly?


















Oh, crap. Forgot I was on the Internet. My bad.
posted by grubi at 2:50 PM on April 14, 2010


As far as I can tell, my earlier comment is the only one here that has actually mentioned patriarchy (though I hope it wasn't read uncharitably as "hurf durf oppression"). In case my remarks were among those bingo was referring to in describing the "implicit pile-on" in this thread, I'd like to clarify my points.

Of course there's nothing wrong with somebody shaving or not shaving; of course it's entirely their choice, and it's awesome if people "like themselves and their bodies" (as bingo says) no matter what they look like.

The unfortunate thing is that for many women, this freedom to choose how they present themselves, how they exist in their own bodies, is curtailed not only by workplace rules and peer pressure but also by those dedicated spirits who love to inform everyone else what they should look like, and whether they are meeting some perceived aesthetic standard. Going by the stories in this thread, a woman who doesn't shave her armpits or legs can expect everything from customer or student complaints to an army of dudes telling them they might be passable if only they shaved.

I wrote in my last comment that I admired women who remain unshaven because this demonstrates a kind of resistance to social norms, but maybe I should expand on that. Many girls, often around the time they hit adolescence, suddenly find that their bodies are the subject of ongoing gossip, harassment, abuse, or even just discussion—in other words, they are forced to fight a battle they did not choose, and that they cannot avoid engaging in. As jessamyn says: "any woman who decides to not shave their legs most places in American society will frequently have to defend that choice to other people, friends and even strangers and deal with a certain amount of harassment."

To the extent that being yourself and feeling comfortable in your own skin can mean not shaving, and to the extent that this choice can draw all kinds of ridiculous and usually negative attention, I really do think it's courageous. In no way, of course, do I mean to dismiss those who favor something different for themselves.
posted by cirripede at 3:26 PM on April 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pow.
Coming back late to this thread to say I'm not really sure I understand the slightly snarky tone of that. I'm aware of the condition you cited; I've known people who have had it. I'm not sure the condition happens on legs but even if it does, all the googling I did before I even saw your post never referenced that as being a reason why Black women supposedly don't shave their legs. I don't think your Wiki reference adds any validity to the notion of there being a physiological reason behind this "Black woman = hairy legs" theory.

Based on what I've gathered so far, I'm inclined to think this is something that originated in the South, maybe a slavery-related thing where there it would have been common for actions to be divided along racial lines. Heck, one wonders if slave women would have even had access to razors or whether it would have even occurred to them (or their White women owners) to shave any part of their bodies.

Bottom line, I'm objecting to the stereotypical sound of "Black women don't shave their legs" and I'd hate to think that even one MeFi reader might walk away from this post believing that. Perhaps some Black women, like women of other ethnicities, don't shave their legs. Some certainly do.

You don't have to believe me, you can believe "Danielle C. Belton, creator of blacksnob.com, a blog of politics and culture, said that when she was growing up, her Southern-born parents would not allow her to shave her legs. Their response circa 1992? “That’s something white people do.”

Okay, so there's proof of at least one case of this coming from upbringing. But her having a blog and being quoted in the NYT does not make her an authority on what Black women in general don't do. I'm starting to think now that this isn't a racial thing so much a socialization thing.
posted by fuse theorem at 6:34 PM on April 14, 2010


I'm not really sure I understand the slightly snarky tone of that.

Only had to do with workplace grooming rules and how I think they are annoying and hey in some cases illegal! That was it; I have no opinion on the cultural background of shaving/not shaving, just was interested in the weird stuff in Wikipedia.
posted by jessamyn at 6:57 PM on April 14, 2010


Oh, for pete's sake. I never said that black women don't shave their legs, period. I've couched every statement as "some" women. I quoted a black woman (Ms. Belton) who was quoting her parents saying that black women don't shave their legs. I referenced another black woman (Mo'nique) who referenced her unshaven legs being a black woman thing. Race things ARE largely socialization things.

You "don't like the sound of this" because it sounds too racially stereotypical but jump right back to slavery for an explanation? Even though it wasn't common for white women to shave their legs or underarms at all during that era, as referenced in zarq's Straight Dope link.
posted by desuetude at 7:05 PM on April 14, 2010


Having finally viewed the HuffPo examining Jessica Alba's armpits for the wee stray fuzz, JESUS WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE.
posted by desuetude at 7:46 PM on April 14, 2010


Oh, for pete's sake. I never said that black women don't shave their legs, period
And it wasn't my intent to suggest that you did. I was commenting on the "authority" you cited and this quote from your earlier post: "something white women do and black women don't". To me, that's a pretty plain and stereotypical notion; I'm definitely not saying it's your notion and it doesn't matter to me that Black woman happened to say it.

I didn't read the Straight Dope link and don't know anything about shaving practices during that era. I was merely wondering because a lot of current American Black cultural practices originated during slavery times. My family originates from the South and let's just say that I've experienced many such practices "up close and personal." I'm at least as old as Mo'nique, and I've never before heard about this Black women not shaving legs business.

Race things ARE largely socialization things.
I had second thoughts about using the word "socialization" but I couldn't think of the word I perhaps really meant. I think it may be a "where you were raised, how you were raised, and where/how your parents were raised" kind of thing and not a general "Black women" thing.
posted by fuse theorem at 7:50 PM on April 14, 2010


I think it may be a "where you were raised, how you were raised, and where/how your parents were raised" kind of thing and not a general "Black women" thing.

I agree with this and I also think this is true of all racial issues. There will always be intersections with ethnicity and class/socioeconomic status. A lot of race in America is cultural more than anything and so many of the cultural differences arise from differing standards stemming from America's racist past. I would never want any other black woman to feel like she's "weird" or "acting white" because she does shave and I want to be really clear about that. To me shaving just doesn't mean much of anything at all, whether you do or whether you don't. I think it's a personal, private matter and there is nothing shameful about either choice, to shave or not to shave. But I do think there is something there as far as the racial distinction.

Maybe it's only true for some black women from the South or of low socioeconomic status, I don't know. I'm not sure. I don't even think it's that important, but I contributed my experience because I simply didn't grow up with shaving as part of any beauty regimen or with the idea that a shaved woman is more "feminine" or more "hygienic" or "better-groomed", and I thought that would be an interesting perspective. Then again, the notion that black women are less feminine and dirty and ill-groomed is still rather prevalent, and perhaps the less stringent shaving requirements add to that perception. It's interesting to me that I've known of Mo'Nique for years and followed her career since the days of The Parkers, and I never heard anyone say anything about her unshaven legs until she got on the radar of more "mainstream" America.
posted by Danila at 8:24 PM on April 14, 2010


I should clarify that when I say I didn't grow up with the idea that "women should shave," I refer to my household, friendships, neighborhood, and religious community. Obviously I grew up in America and I have long been aware that shaving is a norm for many women, but the most I thought of it was relief that I didn't have to deal with that. Hmm, in fact now that I think about it, my mother's reaction to the idea of shaving was kind of similar to the blacksnob blogger's. She didn't forbid shaving or anything, but she thought it was unnecessary and unfortunate for a black girl to contemplate. There was never any real pressure not to do it, just the subtle pressure of "and why would you do that again? you don't have to be white, you know".

On the other hand, I have grown up with the idea that you can't leave the house if you aren't covered in at least two layers of lotion, and to expect that doing my hair is going to take a long, painful time. So it's a fair tradeoff I think.
posted by Danila at 8:33 PM on April 14, 2010


I don't shave that often, never got harassed for it, get laid plenty

data point
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:09 PM on April 14, 2010


*applies leghair mascara*
posted by fish tick at 8:00 AM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


zarq: Thank heaven women exist in this world who are confident enough in their own femininity and sense of self-worth that they don't feel the overwhelming urge to mold themselves to another's arbitrary, artificial standards.

I'm so confident withy my own feminity and sense of self-worth that I mold myself to MY arbitrary, arificial standards!
posted by _paegan_ at 12:07 PM on April 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm so confident withy my own feminity and sense of self-worth that I mold myself to MY arbitrary, arificial standards!

:)
posted by zarq at 12:23 PM on April 15, 2010


There are still jobs in the US [at least] that have dress codes where one of the hygiene standards for women is having shaved legs/armpits. I find this problematic. I think the same is true for jobs that require men to be clean-shaven.

In the USA, employers are advised not to make shaving part of a dress code because pseudofolliculitis barbae affects black men more than others and Title VII forbids employment policies with a disparate impact unless the policy is justified by legitimate employment goals

Do women with curlier pit & leg hair suffer ingrown hairs more? If so, it seems like the same argument should apply.
posted by morganw at 5:54 PM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do women with curlier pit & leg hair suffer ingrown hairs more?
Women with curlier hair who shave, that is.
posted by morganw at 5:55 PM on April 15, 2010


Do women with curlier pit & leg hair suffer ingrown hairs more? If so, it seems like the same argument should apply.

I think it does apply - but I think it's already protected somewhat - I think it falls under appearance-based discrimination and if there's not a legitimate job requirement for shaving, it would not be appropriate to demand it of a female employee. But policies addressing leg or armpit hair on women in the workplace are rare these days - I've never seen such a thing in my working life - while policies about men's facial hair are still often put out there. I've always thought they were pretty messed up without even bringing a racial discrimination model into the discussion.
posted by Miko at 6:51 AM on April 16, 2010


Do women with curlier pit & leg hair suffer ingrown hairs more?

I don't know. What I can tell you is that I'm a woman with straight hair and get terrible ingrown hairs and persistent itchiness when I shave my legs with a razor, regardless of what cream or soap or lotion I use or whether I shave regularly. I still have scars from the infections I used to get when I tried to maintain the habit in college. Now I shave only above the waist, so to speak, and occasionally take an electric shaver to my legs if the situation calls for it. [shrug] The situation doesn't call for it very often.
posted by limeonaire at 4:33 PM on April 16, 2010


Superfluous hair on a woman's face is a hideous deformity. Candidly, there is no excuse for a woman's submitting to such a disgusting blemish. ― an 1895 article titled "Secrets Of Beauty" by Diane de Morny, printed in the New Zealand Star but originally from a U.S. paper
posted by XMLicious at 10:15 AM on April 17, 2010


Some women like to shave their bodies and some don't. Why are we still talking about this?

Because I'm still stinging over that goddamned bitch in 6th grade who taunted me "you shave your arms?!" not after you said that, i didn't.

Then a few weeks ago, an internet acquaintance commented on some hair on the back of my hand in a photograph. What the hell.

my boyfriend shaves more than I do, and fortunately, he's very understanding.
posted by rubah at 11:57 PM on April 17, 2010


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