It seems like the number ways in which we can ‘cope’ with unwanted body hair are expanding exponentially but as of yet nobody has come up with a decent way to get rid of the stigma surrounding our fluffiest bits- despite the fact that it feels like we have been talking about it since FOREVER.
The hairy legs Tumblr account, was picked up on recently by the media in the UK four years after its inception. Soon to follow were ‘discoveries’ of similar social media groups. Cue an outcry of disgust about women daring to show off legs not polished to smooth perfection. Twitter was filled with men and women branding the women who have relinquished their razors and wax strips as “gross”. Really? Gross? Most men boast hairy legs and for them it’s just a fact of life. Try to be a little more dramatic.
But the proudly displayed hairy pins garnered a lot of good press too with people applauding the ‘movement’. The account purports to be a safe space for women who feel pressured by unrealistic portrayals of beauty pushed on them relentlessly every day.
Personally I don’t want to live in a world where women must take to an obscure internet-haven in order to feel good about the decisions they make about their body. Hairy legs are just a thing in the world. Like grass or skinny lattes. It saddens me that they need their very own safe place. Will we ever reach a point where women’s bodies are just allowed to go about the business of being bodies without also serving as a hackneyed talking point? Shave? Wax? Laser? Leave? Who honestly cares? Standing up against damaging portrayals of how women should behave and look is important and we undoubtedly have a long way to go but the battle of the hairy bits is a tired frontier.Yet the furore around women’s hairy bits have always been tagged as a feminist issue.
To opt for hair removal has somehow been portrayed as anti-feminist when feminism is really about choice to do as you please for your own reasons without outside influences forcing your hand. What to do with your hair and what that action signifies about you has been debated over and back many times.
I’m not about to weigh in on the discussion because for me there are two choices: keep the hair as it is or remove it. Just do what makes you happy and comfortable and post it online if that’s how you get your kicks. Hair removal is a personal choice that is more often than not dictated by time and laziness rather than any desire to satisfy another person’s idea of how you should look.
I know women who are fanatic about staying smooth but I know many more who view it as something to be done when time and money allows. I also have a friend who will shave her legs if she feels extra tired because she likes how her smooth legs feel against her jammies. Surely the patriarchy never saw that coming?
We can only hope against hope that we are building a society where women and girls don’t feel like they have to get up ten minutes early if they decide they want to wear a skirt that day. In that particular Utopia, pictures of hairy legs won’t need their own account where they are marked as the ‘other’.
When the standards around female beauty are finally smashed, legs will just be legs however they might look. And we will see pictures of them everywhere or nowhere and nobody will bat an eyelid either way.
Follow Laura’s thoughts here: @LauraLarkin_