This weekend I did a scary-brave thing, for me. I woke up, fended off the excited ministrations of Gracie, threw on a skirt over my bike shorts, slipped into my flip-flops, and went outside. Together Gracie and I went to the dog run, walked all the way to the 9th street bike shop to buy a bike pump (G is so used to any oblong object purchased in a store in which she is allowed belonging to her, she kept trying to carry it home), and then we walked home.
What’s so scary about that? I haven’t shaved my legs since… since… since…. Honestly? I have no idea. Probably since my first day of work at my current job, which the last time I wore a skirt without tights or leggings. Which was in October. So. It was kind of a big deal for me to step outside, where all the sunlight is, and walk down the street like I didn’t care what anybody thought of me.
This task is made more difficult by a specific piece of misinformation. Essentially, that I believe my unshaven legs look like this:
In reality, they look like this:
QUELLE HORREU—…. wait. Granted, you’re seeing them in the washed out glow of a ceiling light and a laptop flash, but there is nothing in these bodacious gams that would make someone run away screaming, amirite? It took me three tries to come up with something to say besides “not that bad.” These are my LEGS. This is how they are SUPPOSED TO BE. They get me where I’m going and quickly. They are awesome.
I’m not as badass as Monique yet – you won’t see me hiking up my skirt on the red carpet (for um, several reasons) – but I made it. Not without my share of doubts though.
At first all I noticed was the cool, fresh breeze, and the glow of sunlight, and that unique spring feeling of being alive amid thousands of other living things, not least of which was the bouncing puppy at my heel (who also has hairy legs and cares about as much as Helena Bonham Carter does about anyone who tries to give her fashion advice).
Then we stopped at a light and a guy looked down as he walked by us. Was he smiling at Gracie? Was he staring at my legs? Was he resentful that I’d seduced his eye below my hem and then betrayed him by not delivering a hairless offering of flesh for his gaze? Was he recoiling? If I turned around would I see him twitching on the sidewalk like a dying roach?!
I didn’t look back. I kept my head up and kept walking, suddenly feeling delighted at the idea that I was willfully defying societal expectations of what a woman does to “prepare” for a skirt-clad day. I mean, we all know women are “supposed” to shave but… says who? Besides Gillette? And the bitchy girl who looked at my underarms and suggested it was “time to start shaving those pits” in 6th grade?
There is no supposed to.
Gracie and I went to the dog run and she played and goofed around. I joked with the other dog owners, I joked with the bike shop proprietor who sold me the tire pump Gracie tried to eat on the way home, I joked with a guy sitting outside church with his incontinent bulldog who watched Gracie practically get her head stuck in the railing in her enthusiasm to say hello.
I could wind this story up with the guy who said “Hello, hello, oh very nice! Very sweet” to Gracie and “Oh and you too” to me, as he walked away but this is not a story about how a Feminist Went Outside With Unshaven Legs In a Skirt and Still Got Male Attention. Male attention rarely has anything to do with me when I get it, and everything to do with the fantasy version of me that some dude just created and decided to react to aloud and publicly
This is a story about how I went outside and had a lovely afternoon, just as I was. I didn’t pluck, shave, blow-dry, conceal or curl. I’m going to do it again soon.