Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I don't shave my legs

Kate sent me this email the other day. I didn't ask her if I could reprint it; hope she's cool with it!

"It may surprise you to know that one of the most lasting impressions I was ever given by a woman, regarding beauty and sense of self, came from you almost 30 years ago [ED: really it was 26 yrs ago. I'm not sensitive about my age nosirreebob].

Remember our days of singing at the Sunday 5:30 mass?  (Well, duh, how could we forget?)  One Sunday we were practicing in the back room at the Family Center before mass.  It was one of the first really warm days that Spring and you showed up wearing a dress and sandals.  I was standing behind you at practice and happened to look down and noticed you didn't shave your legs.  No biggie in the big scheme of things, but for me, a girl who had been SOOOOOO conventional all her growing up years and was just beginning to chafe against all that, it was eye opening.

Here's what I saw:  A girl 4 years my junior had a whole hell of a lot more sense of self to just be who she was and not worry about convention than I did.  From a political/self realization/grow the hell up point of view, your not shaving spoke volumes.  Sure, you may just not have done it because it's a time consuming pain, but still, it made a statement to me.  And the statement was about way more than just shaving.
Here's what else I saw:  The dress was pretty and feminine.  Your legs were tanned and the hair looked soft and nice.  I remember thinking, "She looks so pretty!"  Even at 20, and with a completely different style than you have now, you were lovely and a trend setter.  I've never forgotten.

I'm sure you make much bigger impressions on people today, due to all your amazing work, than you did at age 20 by flashing some leg hair.  But again, it wasn't just about shaving."

What a super nice message to receive, right? Here's what's funny about it.

I have three older sisters. And when I was 13 or 14, about the age you start thinking about girly stuff, my sisters wouldn't let me start shaving. "Once you start, you can never stop. WAIT." "Your hair will grow back hairier!" "Also, we're kind of hippies and legshaving is a tool of The Man." (I may have inferred that last one, btw). Etc. It's not as if they watched me every minute and I certainly could have snuck in a shave. But when you're the youngest of nine children, it's not like you and your mom share a special visit to the drug store to buy supplies and discuss becoming a woman. You pretty much forage your entire existence from what you can find around the house (clothes, school supplies, information, toiletries, etc.). And since I couldn't get my hands on a razor, let alone know what to do with it (no internet man!), I was pretty much out of luck. Believe you me, I was MORTIFIED that I didn't shave my legs. MORTIFIED. And I thought my sisters were just mean.

But, turns out, it was one of the best things I ever did. AKA, my sisters were right! I *wish* it was bravery or confidence that led to me being 20 years old and still not shaving...but I gotta say I was still a little spooked by the warnings my sisters had spouted. And now at age 46, I've shaved my legs maybe five times in my entire life. I KNOW. I wish I could say that my decision not to shave for all these years was a political statement about the weird obsession with hairlessness out there, but the truth is that I am just not hirsute. I have, like, nine hairs on my legs total. I probably would have made my way to a razor if I was hairier.  

I have no idea if other people notice I don't shave. I have so many other bumps and bruises on my legs that the hair seems insignificant. Who knows. Who cares. La la la.

So, in conclusion, dear readers: 
  • Do what your sisters tell you to do.
  • You never know what kind of impact you'll have.
  • Not shaving legs is good for lazy people.
  • Blurry photographs hide flaws (and hair).
  • Kate is nice.

  • Black cardigan that I wear at least once a week cuz it's so perfect $4
  • Black t-shirt $2
  • White wifebeater under shirt $1
  • Faded Glory red gingham with white eyelet ruffly cowgirly skirt $4
  • Frye boots! $10
  • Keys necklace $3
  • Studded belt $0 (old)
  • Dangly silver earrings $2
Not thrifted: NOTHING

What I would change about this outfit now that I've seen the photo:
  • I love this skirt! Love! Gawd knows I have enough gingham for a lifetime of little house on the prairie marathons, but this one snuck up on me at the thrift store. Kinda cheap and silly, but it's the perfect length for me and just the right kind of feminine - wrinkled but ruffled. Summery. A little over the top, but not quite a costume.
  • I'm happy and comfortable with this outfit, but it's not breaking new ground for me or anything. 

Total outfit cost: $26

P.S. Last year and this year on May 30! Funny, I was quite uncomfortable in last year's May 30 get-up, but now I think it looks just fine. Probably cuz I was a bit lighter last year? Hmmm.

P.P.S. Is my inability to correctly apostrophize things irritating to you? Me too. Sigh. I've forgotten how to use apostrophes. Sorry.


  1. Ah - you should always do what your sisters tell you to do! What excellent advice.
    Love you.

    1. Shaving and sewing! And maybe a few other things here and there, yes?

  2. No matter what you write or wear, you're just cute. You can't help yourself.
    However, I envy your lack of hair *sigh* Why did I, the whitest of the white, get dark hair? Does God hate me? No, he just has to keep the plastic razor people in jobs.
    I usually do what my sister tells me to do 'cause she's smart.

    1. Do you know what? I have always thought you had FAB GAMS. You do! Less hairy tree-trunks (like me) or hairier stems (like yours)? I don't know. We all get a little good, a little not-as-good, yeah?

  3. i think it is great to do what your sisters tell you --no matter how selective you are about it...
    and i love you too

    1. Selective? Me? Pshaw. I have *always* done what you told me to....

  4. Wow. I have appeared on someone else's blog! A GREAT blog!!! Loved your story; I would have been none the wiser had you not 'fessed up. Thanks.

    p.s. You look adorable in all your outfits so you have nothing to worry about.

    p.p.s. How clever/super sweet are you to make my name a hyperlink to my blog?!