October 20, 2010

To Shave or Not to Shave.

Photo courtesy Justin Rogers

J.Crew Hairy Leg Tights-gate.

Last week, a pair of tights on J.Crew appeared to make a model’s legs look hairy, unshaven. The internet went nuts.

Click above for news coverage. Click below image to go to J.Crew‘s tights. Following this silly but predictable outcry, I asked Krystal, our resident writer passionate about feminist issues, to respond to our strange—and increasing—obsession with encouraging grown women to look like “pre-pubescent girls.” ~ ed.

This is not a feminist question—as some may have come to believe.

What’s up with our social obsession with hair? It obviously plays a big part in defining who we are—whether we even want it or not.

For example, in undergrad I called a friend back home and started telling her about my first feminist theories class.

The one question she asked:

“So, are you not shaving your armpits now?”

Not shaving is associated with hippies and feminists.

But, if I may just make a generalizing statement (my one and only), we feminists have more pressing concerns than whether or not to shave…such as, you know, ending oppression and tearing down the patriarchy.

So when J.Crew comes out with hairy leg tights, as a feminist, I’m mainly concerned as to why anyone would spend $22 on them since they serve absolutely no purpose.

Are there actually people who sit around and think, “wouldn’t it be nice if on some days I could have hairy legs and on others I could have smooth shaven ones…we should make detachable hairy legs…I know—tights!”


But in all sincerity, to keep your hair or to shave it is an interesting choice amongst humans. Shaving off hair actually prevents pheromones from sticking around as much, thus limiting one’s chance to find a mate. Yet at the same time the cultural standard for women is to be hairless everywhere but your head, so releasing sexy pheromones will do women no good if the hairiness makes others retreat in fear (fear of a woman rebelling against the norms—oh my!).

Do men really like their ladies to look like pre-pubescent girls? Or is that what they’re taught to believe by, let’s face it, the porn industry who purposely has everyone hairless for better camera shots and a “cleaner”  less animalistic aesthetic.

And what about the growing popularity of men shaving their pubic areas? Of course it doesn’t look as pre-pubescent on men because of the whole penis thing but it’s still a little weird.

Mainly the weirdness stems from the fact that it takes quite a bit of effort and time to remove a part of one’s self that comes naturally. Perhaps shaving is symbolic of the fact that we, as humans, are trying to pretend we’re not animals, that we’re above animals, above our mammalian qualities.

But we shouldn’t hide our animalistic natures or we risk becoming puritanical and boring. We risk becoming too clean, even sterile. Do we really want our bodies to be like hospital rooms, overly sanitized, neat and proper?

Maybe we all can learn a thing or two from the hippies and the feminists.

Personally, I think there can be a balance between a smooth field and an amazonian jungle’s worth of hair, it’s called trimming. But I really don’t care one way or the other. I shave when I feel like it. Which actually isn’t that often…and guess what, no one notices. My theory is, if you’re hanging around people who care about the amount of hair on your body, then you’re hanging around the wrong kind of people—feminist, hippie or otherwise.

And if you’re buying hairy leg tights, well, I suggest finding something better to do with your money (as someone who is currently jobless, I can give you some suggestions).

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