[Trigger Warning for disordered eating and cancer.]
Last week my friend Nadia wrote this excellent post about shaving. During the writing process she asked me (by way of research) whether I shaved my legs, and why or why not.
I told her that I don’t shave my legs, because feeling my skin that smooth reminds me of when I was in treatment for cancer and the chemotherapy made all my hair fall out. Feeling hair on my legs makes me feel healthy, robust, victorious.
. . . Most of the time. Sometimes it’s not that simple! Sometimes I shave my legs because wearing tights or pantyhose with hair on my legs feels really weird, and I want to wear tights or pantyhose. Sometimes I crave the ritual of shaving, because in the moment it makes me feel extra-feminine. I have shaved in the past for romantic partners who preferred my legs smooth, because I figured they’re going to be touching my legs more than I am, so why not?
But every time I shave my legs or don’t shave my legs, it’s my choice. My body is mine, to do with as I please. Feminism isn’t about shaving legs or not shaving them – it’s about every person, of any gender, having full ownership over their own bodies and no ownership over anyone else’s.
But Nadia has already written eloquently and excellently on this topic. Today I want to talk more about the thoughts her question raised for me. About how my appearance was different when I had cancer, and how I related to that difference.