We live in a society full of unspoken rules and conventions - there's no getting away from that fact. All around us are invisible boundaries and if one of us decides to cross them, we risk (at best) being judged and (at worst) losing our job(s) or even our lives. There are lots of things that society tells us we should and shouldn't do with regards to our aesthetics, our lifestyles, our relationships and more. There are many subjects that are seen as 'taboo' and many more that have only just begun to be talked about. Why do we persist in allowing society to define us? What is the huge problem with being different? In this article, I'm going to be talking about a choice I made to help me improve my confidence and to help me break free from some of the expectations that society has of me.
As you've already seen the title of this article, you already know what I've done. Well, it's more what I've stopped doing, really: I don't shave my legs. I know that you're probably thinking that it's weird. You're right, of course; in most cultures, women are expected to be hairless. In fact, removal of women's body hair goes back to the Roman times - ladies would remove their body hair as a sign of wealth and status. From that point onwards, it's been an expectation that once a girl starts growing leg and underarm hair, she must get rid of it. Like pretty much every girl, I shaved. Why? Because I was embarrassed about it. Why? Because society tells us that our body hair is disgusting.
I decided several weeks ago to start growing out my leg hair. At first, I wasn't too sure about the whole thing - I was likely to be teased by classmates - but then I started doing some DEEP thinking. Like Marianas Trench deep. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I really cared too much about what other people thought of me. I am happy with the hair on my legs, so why should I have to remove it just to fit other people's narrow idea of beauty? People have told me that boys won't find it attractive - I don't care! I don't want to live my life actively seeking to please everybody but myself. I'm a straight female teenager, but that doesn't mean that everything I do will be for a guy's benefit.
Growing my leg hair wasn't a problem - at school, I wear tights under my skirt and, since it's Winter, I don't walk around with bare legs when I'm out of school, either. But I took a big step today; I had P.E. and, instead of wearing joggers, I decided to wear shorts. I felt very nervous when I walked into the hall, and I had to remind myself several times that I didn't care what people thought - part of the reason I ditched shaving was to prove to myself that exact thing. However, once we started the lesson, it was easy to forget about my legs and get absorbed in the game. Nobody said anything. I noticed a few people doing a double-take, but who could blame them - after all, it's not something you see every day!
I really feel that deciding to stop shaving has been a huge step forward in improving my self-confidence. I feel freer and I am more comfortable with myself than ever before. I do want to make something clear, though - I am not telling you that the right thing for you to do is to ditch the razor; everyone is different. For me, I was comfortable with my leg hair - I just shaved because I thought I had to in order to fit in. I urge you to think about the choices and decisions that you make in your daily life - why do you make the choices that you do? Whatever you're doing, whether it's wearing makeup, buying new clothes or choosing a meal at a restaurant, make sure you're doing it to make you happy, not just to fit a standard that society's given you. Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone - it's scary at first, but the more you do things that you wouldn't normally do, the more you'll build up who you are as a person. Don't let societal norms define who you are.
I also thought I'd delight you to a picture of my legs. Here you go: