The first time a girl shaves her legs is a monumental moment, marking a key transition from child to adult. It is one of those childhood moments I’ll never forget—like finding out Santa isn’t real, or when Michael Jackson died.
I was loitering on the steps during recess one day in 5th grade with a few girls from my class when one of them stopped, mid-conversation, and remarked, “Wow, Sam, you really should shave your legs.” Naturally, I cried all the way home on the bus that day and begged my mom to teach me how to shave my legs.
Of course, this was all a product of being caught up in that weird preteen girl adrenaline-fueled competition of who was first to wear a bra, apply makeup, and, of course, start to shave. But it also marked a deeper evolution from androgynous child to the socially-constructed concept of womanhood.
But shaving is time consuming, expensive, and even painful. Putting in the time, effort, and products required to shave your legs only to have the hair grow back after a day or two is futile and stupid, in my opinion. So I am considering stopping. The hair isn’t prickly–maybe for a bit when you’re growing it out–but it’s actually quite soft.
We’ve all internalized the fact that leg hair = masculine. But when men and women have naturally hairy legs, how can that be true? It’s a social construct. If you turn a critical eye to the business that is shaving legs, you’ll quickly notice.
This commercial, for example, manages the trifecta of homophobia, transphobia, and sexism in less than a minute. It implies that unshaved legs make you unwomanly as well as implying that men who date hairy girls are gay, amongst various other subtexts.
This Venus ad also has some troubling messages, such as implying that beauty is objective in the form of shaved legs, and saying that “beauty begins with your skin.” Of course, only shaved skin. The seductive voiceover also implies that women who don’t shave their legs cannot even begin to be beautiful. Featuring a montage of men caressing these women’s legs, the ad gives another message that beauty is only important to appeal to men, and even acknowledging that women should not shave for themselves, but for the patriarchy.
It’s not just one ad—it’s a lifetime of these ads, exposure to the shaving industry, and experiences such as seeing everyone else shave that reinforce your need to shave.
The price of everything needed to shave, measured in both money and time, is absurdly high, and could be put toward much better things. To get the best results, you’re expected to invest in a nice razor that needs periodic blade replacements, as well as shaving creams and moisturizers. Granted, some people skimp out on the cream and moisturizers, but that leads to razor burn, cuts, etc. This is what society is telling us to use, with countless ads.
Let’s rebel against societal beauty standards. Decide upon your own beauty. It’s taking agency of the female body.
Of course, this is for the people out there who want to stop shaving their legs but haven’t quite made the leap yet. Or, maybe this article will even make you realize that you actually don’t want to shave. I will feel accomplished if that’s so. But if shaving your legs truly makes you feel beautiful and confident, that’s more important. Create your own beauty because you like it, not because it’s what you’re supposed to do.