The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Hair, hair, everywhere
When I was growing up in the 60's and 70's, nothing much was said about a woman's body hair. The only "hairless is better" ads I ever remember seeing on TV were for Neet and Nair, but I never knew anyone who used them, with the exception of my grandmother, who, at the age of 60, found a hygienic way of disposing of her upper lip hair.

No one in my high school regularly shaved their legs. We were too interested in having the perfect Farrah Fawcett hairdo. Many of us girls didn't shave our underarms, except in summer, and no one had even heard of, much less contemplated, a Brazilian or Bikini wax. Guys back then didn't seem bothered by body hair, as long as we didn't have more than they did. Getting rid of body hair was for the Olympic swimmers. In fact, we girls firmly believed that too much shaving was a sure sign that someone was sexually active and, of course, that meant that girl was a slut. You didn't want to be a slut in my predominantly Catholic high school. Gossip could ruin you in those days. Exactly how it would ruin you, was a bit more uncertain, but we felt sure that, if your reputation was tarnished, you'd wind up married to an adulterer and be working the rest of your life in the local IGA as a check-out chick.

As I got older, however, hairy women seemed to go out of fashion, thanks, in great part, to the porn industry of the 1990's, which wanted to make sure that every bit of a woman's anatomy was visible to the camera. Guys who watched porn, expected their girlfriends and wives to look the same as the women on screen. I'll never forget the first comment a guy made to me about my hairy legs: "You need to shave." His subtlety knew no bounds. The hairy woman had plummeted from being an object of wholesomeness, to being a social retard who didn't like men or go out on dates.

I first tried shaving my legs at an early age and wound up skillfully removing a long strip of seven layers of skin on the back of my heel. As the blood poured forth from my wound, I thought there had to be a better way. I used my meager pocket money to buy a cream depilatory. I followed the directions. I softened the hair with warm water, slathered my legs in depilatory, and checked after the required twenty minutes. Forty-five minutes later, my leg hair was still there. Those suckers wouldn't budge. I went back to shaving using a man's triple-bladed razor. I tried to see how long I could go before the stubble got to a point where it stabbed me in a hundred places when I crossed my legs. Once I started shaving, I couldn't stop. I had to shave my legs and "bikini line" at least three times a week. And my underarms? Every single freakin' day.

A few boyfriends later, I was told "You're supposed to shave all the way up," in reference to my upper legs. Of course, the guy who told me "to shave all the way up" turned out to be married, but apparently, my imperfections were the ones worth pointing out.

For the past couple of decades, I have been stuck in a never-ending cycle of shaving, depilatories, and plucking, and I'm sick of it. I must spend a vast fortune every year on disposable razors. I have noticed that other women I chat with, are sick of it, too. Why the hell do we need to look like a porn star? We don't have pneumatic breasts and we don't get paid heaps of money to have sex. My new mantra will become "when you pay me like a porn star, I'll look like a porn star."

Of course, because hairlessness is such the norm these days, there's a backlash coming. Web sites are springing up that sing the praises of hairy, "natural" women. Hairy legs and hairy pubic areas are displayed in full color, like exotic flowers. I wish I could be one of them. I think it's going to be an uphill battle. Today, my husband handed me a razor while I was in the bath. He shaves twice a week. And wears a beard. Life is so unfair.
posted by Melanie O. at 7:48 PM -
  • At 8:57 PM, Blogger SantaFree said…


  • At 7:49 AM, Blogger gardenbug said…

    When I was growing up, hair was an issue, too...only it was different. We wanted wavy, obedient hair down to our shoulders. Pity the black girl with african curls...and the scandinavian girl with straight limp hair. Our price to mimic the movie stars of our era was pin curls. Every night We twisted our hair around our fingers and pinned the hair to our heads with bobbie pins. We pinned our hair all over. Our heads looked like a mine bobby pins all over. Try sleeping on bobby pins. They are metal daggers poking us or pulling our hair. There was a technique to placing one's head on the pillow in whatever position you could find that was relatively comfortable....and not moving all night or risk having your hair pulled or stabbed with a bobbie pin. Later on, rollers became popular, but sleeping on them was also torture. The result in the morning? Depends on what mother nature gave the girl to start with. For me, it was about 4 hours of slowly watching the curl unwind.I ended up with straight hair, just like I started with. The African Americans did even worse. They subjected themselves to harsh chemicals to straighten their hair, lighten the color. The chemicals were so harsh, I am not sure why they didn't go blind. Then there is the issue of changing the color of hair. Thank goodness for the 60s when it was OK to be yourself...curly Afro, straight and limp hair...and unshaven legs. I still like wash and go hair, afros, natural color, even grey...and natural bodies. Throw away the razor.

  • At 6:37 PM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    I'd love to throw away the razor. I just have to convince Dan. :^o

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About Me
Name: Melanie O.
Home: Durham, North Carolina, United States
About Me: Female, American health and beauty-conscious professional who has rekindled a childhood love of dolls.
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