February 25, 2010

In Vermont we’re exposed pretty regularly to alternative lifestyles and alternative life choices and have friends that are varying degrees of hippy, dippy, and hippy dippy.  Up here many eat local foods, compost, wash out and reuse ziplock  bags and I even know one woman using vegetable consumption as birth control.  Which is not to say this is the alternative capital of our great nation, but when living here, you get exposed to certain things one might not see in other areas.  And for the most part, I’m unfazed and even appreciative of the different strokes.

But for some reason, today when I went to yoga and the woman next to me unleashed her flowing locks of leg hair, it got to me.  It totally grossed me out.  I couldn’t stop looking at it.  Wondering about it.  I had an hour to kill with the leg hairs oh so close and stirring in the breeze offered up by the fan, and I was supposed to be thinking about a loved one or contentment, but these are my thoughts:

Why?  Why do I find it so gross?  And why would someone grow it out?

Sure, I’m used to the tanned, shaved legs we see in Nair ads, Victoria’s Secret ads, etc.  And yes, I discovered today that I consider that sexy as opposed to the alternative.  But it goes beyond what I’m exposed to from a marketing standpoint.  I like the feeling, I like the sensation.  Sleek is sexy, but I understand that’s a personal choice.

Men’s leg hair isn’t as shocking or considered offensive because we’re used to it, sure, but also because it’s thicker, grows closer together and darker, and therefore seems more native on the leg.  Women’s hair is spaced out, lighter in color even when dark, and when grown out looks like Yellowstone when recovering from the devastating fire that crippled it’s tree life.  It’s just sad looking.  And when it’s sparse and sickly looking like it is on a woman’s legs when long, you can see all the kinks, which adds to the depressing nature of long leg hair.

Also, leg hair hurts in the winter.  If you ski, it gets caught in your ski boots and pulled out as a result.  Hair by hair.  Then, not only are you looking like your legs are balding, but the growth pattern is all helter skelter.  Long hair also gets caught in jeans.  Something about the fabric.  It is not pleasant.  Sure, you’re making a point about your feminism, or maybe you’re just lazy, or maybe you’re shower is tiny and therefore shaving is difficult since you either have to be flexible enough to raise your leg above your head or wily enough to wedge yourself down to keep both feet on the ground, but long leg hair is still uncomfortable.  I’ve flirted with it out of laziness and single-ness, I know.

Since this is an active choice being made, let’s set some ground rules.  Let’s agree to constrain it somehow.  If you’re going to grow out your armpit hair, let’s instill a braiding rule, like horse manes.  Tame the beast.  If you’re going to leave the bush wild, wear shorts.  I don’t want to see anyone, male or female, in a bikini bottom with stray friends hanging out.  And most importantly, if you’re going to grow out your leg hair and be throwing your legs around in a yoga class, wear pants.