Monday, February 25, 2013

Plucking Eyebrows and Picking Battles

Right now my job requires me to fly north every Monday and then back home every Friday. I spend four nights each week in a "camp." There are bathroom/shower facilities there that are perfectly serviceable, but still, each Friday when I get home, I immediately close myself up in the bathroom and go through a whole process of shaving and plucking and showering with a variety of different scented products. Then I put on either my sweat pants or my "city clothes," and go about the rest of my weekend.

This is very much a ritualized practice that I've developed to transition between my work and home life. It helps me to relax and also reacquaint myself with home. But why not just take a long shower? In other words, what's up with the shaving?

Well, our culture is super weird about body hair, basically.

I totally get that. Some people will tell you that even if nobody else in the world shaved their legs, they would still do it. I believe that for the most part these people are lying, most of all to themselves. Sure, I might love the feeling of freshly shaved legs on clean sheets, but if I didn't know that feeling and had no reason to ever even think of experiencing it, I wouldn't seek it on my own, and 99.9% of people are almost definitely the same way.

There are people who are trying to combat this whole body hair weirdness. Basically they just let theirs grow, and that's cool. But even though I know that this is a nurture thing rather than a nature thing, I'm not going to stop shaving my legs or plucking my eyebrows anytime soon. I would happily give up makeup* for the rest of my life (another bit of cultural weirdness), but this is one fight I don't want to have with myself or the culture at large.

I know that it's silly to feel like the armpit hair that the vast majority of other adult women also have needs to be shaved off. But the fact is that good body image is hard enough to cultivate without counterculture contortions thrown in. For all kinds of reasons, I feel way more comfortable with no makeup on my face than I do with visibly hairy legs.

I think that we'd all be better off if we could be happy with ourselves without any kind of modification. But I don't think that should be forced.

*My original idea of what to write about for this month's post!

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