I’m not a big fan of the movie theater experience, though I’ve recently found myself in those sticky dark rooms twice in as many weeks. Just on Sunday I was seeing Mad Max: Fury Road (just as awesome as everyone says it is). The other was Pitch Perfect 2 (which was as mediocre and dependent on stereotypes as everyone says it is– and I really liked the first one).
But for me the most offensive part of Pitch Perfect 2 wasn’t the unnecessary joke about “lady-boys,” the fact that Beca was the only character defined by more than her stereotype, or that useless original song. It was the Shick commercial that played in the previews.
Like, seriously. What the fuck?
I’m of the “do what you want, beauty is choice” school of thought- so if someone feels the need to remove all their body hair, good for them. I do think we need to critically examine why we feel this need, especially when it ends up being completely one-sided, but whatever- go to town, do whatever. But still, what the unholy fuck is this commercial? First, it seems dedicated to shaming the girls who don’t have perfectly smooth legs. Second “leg hair like a porcupine?” Maybe everyone is different but when you straight up don’t shave your legs you know what’s not a problem? Prickles!
At the time of writing this I haven’t shaved my legs since March. I’m not 100% against it- sometimes I get really bored and it’s a great way to kill time. But you know what I discovered over years of actually trying to shave my legs? A) I don’t do a very good job at it. B) I can’t shave my knees unless I want to bleed everywhere. C) It really dries out my skin and D) Why the fuck am I putting effort into something I don’t care about and is no one’s business?
“But Manbeast!” You ask, “Doesn’t he like, care?”
We’ve been together for five years and I was pretty honest from the get go- I’m not about deforesting my body, and I’m a lazy slob. Does he like me better with shaved legs and longer hair? Yes. Does he understand and respect the fact that he doesn’t have to live in this body so I get the ultimate say in what goes on with it? Yes. Is his attraction to me further reaching than “leg hair?” Hell yes.
And if you’re in a relationship and your answer to any of these questions is “No,” DTMF because you’ve got bigger problems than whether or not you care about shaving.
And you know, it goes both ways. I prefer him with a clean-shaven face and really wish he’d think about getting rid of his leg and armpit hair. I also wouldn’t complain if he dabbled in eyeliner. He has absolute no interest in indulging these requests in any way. We both have physical deal-breakers, we’re allowed to. But body autonomy trumps relationship. I’m not trying to make a politicized feminist statement (though don’t get me wrong, I am a feminist), I just want to be comfortable in the only body I have to live in.
I don’t really like having leg hair, if someone were to offer to laser it all off for me for free I’d consider taking them up on it. But the thing is, I have hair that bothers me a lot more, that compromises my quality of life and makes me outrageously uncomfortable. But that hair is on my head. And when I express a desire to shave my head I can get the exact same reactions as to why I don’t shave my legs- “Why would you ever want to do that?” usually followed with “Well I would never” (cool for you, I don’t have to live in your body, I don’t care what you do with it.) I’ve had to argue with hairdressers to give me a pixie cut before because “that’s like, really short. Don’t you want longer hair?”
And that commercial would be fucking obnoxious to begin with. I don’t need remixed pop songs and choreographed dancing about shave gel and razors any day or time. But if they were just singing about how nice and smooth their legs were, I’d let it slide. It’s the shaming, how the unshaven women are the butt of the joke until they’re rescued, and the idea that your legs aren’t fit to be seen until they’re hairless that bothers me. My legs aren’t fit to be seen because they are pasty, scarred up messes, but they have far less hair than your average man in shorts. So if it bothers me that I’m a woman, and I have leg hair, but it doesn’t bother you when you have to see some Sasquatch man barelegged, you need to re-evaluate your priorities and gender expectations.
And you know what? I bet Furiosa doesn’t fuck around shaving her legs, and she’s way cooler than any of the Bellas (even though I love me some Anna Kendrick).