Experiment 3: Growing a Natural Fur Coat

OK life secret into the female mind (ready?!)

Most women fantasize about not shaving/waxing/epilating/dumping chemicals that melt the hair on their legs. It's such an enormously time consuming and usually painful process, and it stopped feeling good after the first shave when I was 12... Now add to the equation having legs so long that stores don't carry pants long enough, an Italian heritage (monkeys have little on me), and a girl who is already cutting her sleep down to 5 hours a night to get her work done. This experiment was always destined to occur.

Dreaming of a Razorless World
I had put it off because previously I was not brave enough to walk around with gorilla legs or was in a relationship (in case you didn't know, American society says you should shave things out of respect). I would go 2 or 3 weeks, pushing limits and getting weird looks after, you know, 5 days (Italian!). Boyfriends usually tolerated it in the "if it makes you happy, it makes me happy" sense, but we're all trained to think it's gross, so they'd crack eventually ('mmm it's prickly Lo!")

So here it is, a secret I've been (to the best of my ability) hiding from the world for a while..

Experiment: What happens when you do not shave your legs for 5 months? 

The answer: not good things. At first, it was really freeing. I felt like some liberated granola hippie embracing my natural and vegetarian self who slept on couches and refused to shave (You go, granola LoLo!). People started to give me weird looks when I would wear shorts after a week of not shaving, but I was already used to that and mentally ready. I think after a month or so, those interacting with me had larger concerns for my mental health than the hairy legs aspect. But I loved it at first - every time I showered I had these moments of euphoria where I just savored all the time I was saving by not shaving! Hours went into paper writing and/or sleeping that had previously gone into this societal double standard. Hurray to my independence!

There's a lot to be said for convincing yourself that nothing is wrong will keep people's judgement diverted. However, it bothered me a lot after a month. [Gross description coming, prepare your stomachs!] My hair was over 1cm long and was thick. My legs did look like a monkey's, and it started to horrify me. I felt dirty and itchy all the time (OK sleeping on the floor didn't help with this), and my hair was constantly stabbing me in the leg every time I wore tights or pants. It stopped being something I was excited about and instead became a (really gross) emblem of my noble commitment to this female independence cause I felt I was championing. Yuck.
I am so grossed out by myself! AGH!

I think the breaking point for me came when I was wearing tights one day and someone commented that it looked like I had little needles coming out of my tights. My tights no longer hid this abominable leg hair! AGHHHH! And it was bad enough that someone said something. I went through this mini-existential crisis: I am supposed to be OK with the leg hair but I can't hide it anymore and that terrifies me, which totally defeats the purpose of this experience!! I'm supposed to be strong and above societal mores, but I'm just faking it. Failure.

At this point, it was December and I decided enough was enough. The week before a conference in California, I decided to bite the bullet and remove the verboten hair. But now the question was... how? Razors literally could not handle this forest. Waxing would be a form a torture that would probably mentally ruin me. To be honest, scissors would have probably been the best idea (?!?!?!). I decided to go with epiliating, which is basically a process of using an electric tool to rip out your hair one by one, but at your own pace. Deep breaths.

It took 5 hours. I watched episodes of Sex and the City for motivation and inane distraction. Warning... the following images would gross me out if I was reading this blog. Proceed with caution.

Pre and Post... 

This was from like 4 square inches of Leg.

Clean again!!! Finally!!!
I just felt so clean and... free again after ripping out all my leg hair. Isn't that ironic, I felt free in both not shaving and in cleaning up my legs again? It's all about perspective, and I will ashamedly admit, I am not above societal American female conventions. I felt immediately better about myself after freeing my legs of hair; I felt prettier, I felt lighter, and I felt attractive for days afterward. Smooth legs are so ingrained in my perception of beauty that I am trapped.

Our female societal standards aren't really a pick and choose buffet either. Maybe if I had Rey's outfits from The Force Awakens not shaving would bother me less. However, I still wore tight pants and stockings, which either made it painful for me not to shave or it did little to hide my deviation from the norm. Also, epilating revealed that I had a massive number of ingrown hairs on my legs from wearing tight pants and not shaving, something that had never been a problem before this experiment. If you are going to try not shaving, realize that you have to sacrifice other traditional expectations too. I was not brave enough to go full turkey on this, and to be honest, nor did I want to. I like my dresses and skirts, and tights are essential for staying warm in Michigan in winter if you wear them. 

She knows me so well...
I'll end this on a happy note - my cousin did try to salvage my granola pride by sending me links and suggestions about how I could reuse my former hair into something constructive. At this point though, I just wanted the hair out of my life, not a reminder of this pretty gross thing I did for months. 

Verdict: Literally never again. I must say though, this experience did teach me to appreciate shaving/epilating more. Now I look forward to it, something akin to "YAY! I'll be clean!! Woo!". Would I recommend it to a friend? Likely no... just for the ingrown hair issue alone. Shave your legs young women, unless you're ready to burn your tight clothes and are prepared to deal with people staring at your legs when you wear shorts (honey, it's not out of appreciation for your muscles...). 

Cheers to a (clean!) New Year everyone :) 

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