My Vision Of Feminism, or, Why I Don’t Shave My Legs But Do Wear Mascara

I wear make-up almost everyday.  And not just the bare bones basics of sunscreen and zit-coverer (but I do wear sunscreen everyday, and so should you!)

I mean I choose between a dozen of eyeshadow colors (all shiny, warm neutrals if you’re interested) and apply two or three colors.  I choose an eyeliner, either a brown pencil or a copper crayon and decide how to apply it that day (thin line, smudgy, thick, or continuing beyond the lid).  Then I put on mascara – lots of it.  I really do put on as much mascara as my poor eyelashes will hold without bothering my contacts.  I brush on some rosy pink blush and I’m done!

I’ve always skipped any lipstick/gloss for a variety of reasons, even though I’ve always loved the bold, retro, fifties look that my grandma continues to rock.  When I’ve worn lipstick I’ve never liked the shock of color right in the middle of my face (and why wear it unless you’re going to wear a bright color?).  I also constantly mussed it up and needed to reapply it.  I’d keep doing silly things like eating, or drinking, or fidgeting with my mouth or just generally failing to be a perfectly still plastic doll.  I’m also totally grossed out by the idea of how many tubes of lipstick and pots of lipgloss that the average American lipstick-wearer EATS in their lifetime (which is apparently not six pounds, but any more than practically none is gross anyway).  Bonnie Bell is tasty, but it is not lunch. I am strongly in the camp of using nice-quality (with sunscreen!) lip balm when you actually need lip balm and just leaving your poor lips alone the rest of the time. Because you love them for god’s sake.

I often accompany this thoughtful look (chosen to compliment my green eyes and to not clash with my blue under eye-bags) with the decided hippy-dippy look of unshaven legs. Which really, should just be called, “legs.”  But when you say it like that it sounds so much less, well, exciting and indicative of my strong take on feminist matters.  I gave shaving up for good this past spring when when I began lamenting the end of our six-month long winter because it meant addressing this annoying chore.  And that’s just outright madness.  Nothing should stop spring from being a pure joy around here.  So I figured I could either continue to suffer under this ridiculous (to me) cultural restraint or not.  So baby, my leg hairs are free and long.  And you know what?  They actually became a lot less noticeable once they hit the eight-month mark.  When the hairs are as long as they are going to get they lay flat and smooth and just sort of softly disappear.  My legs don’t feel baby-bottom smooth, but they’re not prickly, they don’t look gorilla’s legs, and they’re no grosser than arms with hair.

So why do you care about my morning beauty routine and the hirsuteness of my limbs?  Because many of the same cultural forces that tell women to wear make-up tell them to shave their legs (and to do it at least every 48 hours or be a gross monster).  Conversely, some people who honestly want wonderful freeing things for women tell them to never ever wear make-up or ever dare to remove a hair from their body and to start loving herself exactly the way she is.  Both of these instructions are flawed!  Why do women need to be told how to be women properly?  By simply existing women are successful at being women!  I wear make-up because I like it and I don’t shave my legs because I don’t like it.  Though these are just silly, external, and cosmetic decisions I get to make them all on my own, without half of society chiming into offer their own misogynistic opinion.  Wouldn’t it be great if that same principle were applied to the other decisions women make in their live?  If women could make desicions about reproductive health, sexual preference, career paths, motherhood, or even how they dressed in the morning without everybody and their mother having an opinion about it and feeling the need to voice it?

There isn’t one path to equality.  Some women will choose to wear make-up, some will choose to not wear make-up.  There isn’t a woman who fulfills some feminist ideal.  Some women will choose to be stay at home moms for a few years, some for many years, some for just a few weeks.  Some women will choose to never become moms.  There is no form of the feminist.  Some women find a sharp blazer fits them best, some women a bikini, and some a flowy Earth Mother dress.  If feminism ever does it’s job, if we ever get to a place where we don’t need it anymore, then the world will be filled with women who are free to make all life’s choices and to face the consequences like men.  Men (at least white, heteronormative men) are judged by the motivations that led to their actions and the consequences that flowed from them rather than how hot they looked performing said action.

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One Response to My Vision Of Feminism, or, Why I Don’t Shave My Legs But Do Wear Mascara

  1. April K says:

    Ha, ha! I’m the exact opposite: I almost never wear makeup of any kind, but I *always* shave my legs–almost daily, in fact. I just love how it feels. Good for you for being your own person and not making trivial decisions based on what other people might prefer. I’ve always wondered why guys claim to be grossed out by hairy legs. I’m like, “Well, you have hairy legs, and I still have sex with you! Why can’t that work in reverse?” LOL!

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