Feminism

Why I Shave Ritually, Not Religiously

Why I Shave Ritually, Not Religiously

A year ago this week I shaved my legs for the first time in two years.

"’Bout time you shaved them hairy legs, ain't it?"

We were in a Chikfila parking lot, my dad and I. I remember.

He held some sway, for I started shaving that weekend.

I had been wanting to shave my legs. The older girls at church did it, so the idea held a special glow. There are few coming of age markers for girls and I craved one, needing something to announce my place on the cusp of young womanhood.

My mom had held me off a while. Perhaps she wanted to preserve my childhood. Perhaps she wanted a watershed experience for me, too, and maybe did not know how to give it. Perhaps it is difficult to watch your daughter grow up.

Regardless, at his words I got what I wanted. But it was not special. I remember feeling that I had been shunted to the bathtub to do the deed, isolated there with the shaving cream and the blue Venus razor.

I knew even then that I had gotten what I wanted at the cost of something dear.

The awareness still raises the fuzz on the back of my arms. The first rule of patriarchy is this: You can have what you want on our terms.

This time the cost was body-confidence. Evidently there was something wrong with my legs without shaving. Something was wrong with me. My body was wrong.

This is the way of patriarchy. Get what you want, but only if you feel bad about it. Sure, have it, it croons, because otherwise you are deficient and gross.