I haven’t shaved my legs or my armpits in 121 days (since November 22, 2014.)
I did this deliberately. That day, I said to myself, “I’m going to shave today and then I’m not going to shave, for a long time.” (I also knew I’d remember when it was because it was the Saturday before Thanksgiving.)
I definitely chose an easy enough time to do it. It’s been winter, as in long pants and long sleeves time. So although I’ve know that “OH MY, I HAVE ARMPIT HAIR!!!”, no one else has. Now that it’s spring has sprung, I’m having to do a bit more confronting of why I started this and whether or not I want to continue.
Why did I decide to try this no-shave experiment? I realized that I didn’t know what my natural body looked like. I’ve been shaving pretty much since I hit puberty, say around 12-years-old or so. Other than a summer that I spent in Indian on a missions trip in 1992, I’ve been shaving, particularly my armpits, regularly and consistently. That is, I’ve been shaving for around 26 years. I realized that I just didn’t know what my body really and truly looked like.
I also really didn’t know why I was shaving in the first place. It’s an annoying and time-consuming grooming practice, yet I just kept on doing it. Nik and I have been questioning and in many cases changing so many aspects of the way we live (see my long-dormant and maybe-soon-to-be-revived KIOS series) and I realized that this was one aspect of my personal life I had let live on unchallenged. Although I did keep on shaving, I had complained about it to friends or family members but never did anything about it.
I also realized that Ellie was getting older and more observant and I felt the need to hide evidence of my shaving habit from her because I didn’t want to have to explain/justify what I was doing to myself. I want to be able to look her in the eye and be able to rationally and clearly explain why or why not I feel the need to remove hair from my body. I want to give her the gift of loving her body the way God made her and also being able to make deliberate decisions about the way she treats her body.
I have four parts of a “No Shave” mini-series planned. In classic good preaching fashion, they all start with “R”:
1. The REVEAL (that’s this) – where I overcome my embarrassment at actually discussing my arm pits with the whole wide world.
2. The RANT – where I let out all my frustrations at the different ways that body hair is treated for women vs. men, I tell you why I get so angry about shaving in general, and I expose my true feelings about media and the skin care business. I’ll probably rant about how I wasn’t even brave enough to use a picture of my own legs in this post.
BONUS: The REFLECTION.
3. The RESEARCH – I still have to do this research but here’s what I want to know: Why exactly do women in America shave our legs? When did this become the common social norm? Who benefits from women shaving their legs? Are there any benefits to doing it? What do women in other countries do? What does an unshaven vs. shaved leg communicate in American culture vs. in other cultures?
4. The RESOLUTION – Somewhere in this process, I do have to make a decision. Am I going to turn this from an experiment to a way of life? Do I want to go against popular culture and (perceived or real) scorn from other people as we enter shorts/swimsuit/tank top weather? What exactly will I say to Ellie as she gets older? I honestly don’t know yet what my answer will be. But I do have to decide and I’m hoping that by doing my thinking out loud, in front of you all, I’ll be able to come to a decision that is thoughtful, honest, and life-affirming, clean-shaven or not.