To Shave Or Not to Shave

To Shave Or Not to Shave

So, OK, I was a walking contradiction, a feminist fatale, with my hairy legs and my fixed-up nose and an occasional, ironic swipe of fuchsia lipstick. And that’s how it went, for years. Until last Saturday. There was a family wedding, a fancy affair at an Atlantic City casino hotel. I planned to wear a strapless dress — tight velvet bodice, a rustling taffeta skirt ­— and I planned to dance.

Here were my options: Wear a different dress. Wear the velvet-and-taffeta number, leave the armpits alone and risk mortifying two generations (parents and teenaged daughter) in one hairy swoop. Or shave.

It required a very long shower, two razors and half a bar of soap. “I need a lawnmower in here,” I yelled to my partner after the first five minutes. “No, forget that; I need an herbicide. We’re talking major defoliation!” When I was halfway done, I eased the shower door open and looked in the mirror over the sink. My right pit: naked as a babe’s. In my left, it looked as though a small Syrian hamster had curled up for a nap.

With every stroke, I remembered why — aside from feminist critique — I’d quit shaving. Armpits curve. Razors don’t. Also, the skin is sensitive, not keen on being scraped repeatedly with beveled metal. After 25 excruciating minutes, my underarms were indeed hair-free … and stinging red.

At the wedding, I cried, ate sushi and danced with my partner to Katy Perry’s “Roar,” hands thrust overhead, swaying to the beat. My underarms felt itchy and cold, a little bereft without their usual cushion of hair. My mother smiled approval: “You have nice armpits. I never get to see them.”

If I’ve learned anything in middle age, it’s this: I care so much less what people think of me, but I care a lot more about how my actions make them feel. My cousin Jonathan was marrying his beloved Rebecca. I didn’t want my armpits to steal the show. There’s a time (nearly all the time) to challenge stupid, sexist codes of beauty. There’s a time to pick up the disposable razor and get to work.

But, Mom? If you were thinking this shaving thing might just be a phase, you’re right. The hair — I learned this a long time ago — always grows back.

Originally published on Purple Clover

Related Posts

Comments

In order to comment on BlogHer.com, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.