Friday, 18 July 2014

On being a mammal

Some ladies are growing their leg hair long. This is News, because it is in the Daily Mail, which must be the very first time that female leg hair has appeared in the Daily Mail outside of a big red circle, and un-poked by arrows saying things like 'LOOK at the filthy ape-woman with her shameless hussy hair' and 'ew, ew, ew.'
"I’ve been a member of the club for four years, and my legs are so much happier for it! I’ve tried so many different ways of covering them up: maxi skirts, tights, footless tights, knee socks… but this summer I’m trying to be bold and show them off!"
Image via

The 'Hairy Legs' tumblr has popped up on my radar in a few different places. 'Behold! Their glistening shins // hairs waving gently in the wind!' say the stories. Well, not in so many words, but you can tell that it's what they mean. 'Good for them,' I thought to myself. 'Hairy legs must surely provide an effective barrier against insect bites'.*

I assumed that this vague, if muted, sense of approval, would be universal. After all, leg hair doesn't hurt anyone. It's hardly going to leap off people's legs and start strangling passers-by. If it makes the ladies in question happier with themselves then hooray! Who can argue with that? I could have gone back to my life contented in these warm, fuzzy assumptions. But instead I made a grave error. I read the comments.

The comments were not generally in favour of hairy ladies. They definitely wanted you to know that. There were those who pointed out that the hair-lady-legs looked like hairy-lad-legs. Well, this could be true. Would that not say something about the arbitrary nature of dividing those who get pink razors and hair-dissolving gunk from those who just get... hairy?

Then there were those that said that they just didn't care. There were more important things in the world. Now, this is a viewpoint I can get on board with (although shouting about not caring always seems a little counter-productive). There are lots of bad and scary things happening in the world, and I for one would much rather we were pouring collective brain power into a pool to deal with these problems, rather than  worrying about hair-removal. 

Unfortunately, the 'nobody cares' people were wrong. LOTS of people did care. Many, many people. These women were 'disgusting', they were 'gross' and 'lazy'. Several men informed whoever was listening that they definitely would not be sleeping with these women. Many people complained that they would not be able to scrub the image of a woman's leg hair from their head. But the consensus was definitely 'disgusting'. 

I'm not quite sure why there was so much anger. You may not enjoy looking at a woman's hairy legs. That's fine. But hair is a natural thing, not inherently dirty unless you don't wash. Go out into the world and you will see many things that don't appeal to your sense of aesthetics. I have, on more than one occasion seen a seagull dismember and eat the carcass of a pigeon. It's not pretty, but I'm not going to step in and deprive the bird of a meal. And lady-leg-hair is much, much more beautiful than that meal-time, no matter how you feel about it. If you really still can't stomach it, I suggest you avoid looking at lady's legs. And articles about lady's legs on the internet. 

So, your day-to-day life is not affected by the lady-legs but perhaps your night-to-night life is? We all have different priorities when it comes to what 'The Sun' calls 'romping'. Perhaps a bald** leg is one of your priorities? 

That's fine. Although I suspect that when you get right down to it and you're in a position to inspect the furriness of a prospective partner's pins, it doesn't really matter anyway. If it does, that's still fine! Romping is not compulsory.

And anyway, most people don't have sex with most people they meet. Think about it. Even the most hardened lotharios claim, what?  A couple of thousand people over a lifetime? That leaves literally billions of people that they haven't had sex with. And these are people that make seduction  basically a full time job! Just think about the number of people the rest of us aren't having sex with! All these people who your year-round hairy leggings will not affect one jot. 

Women - people - are worth more than their sexual value. You will do a million and one things with your life apart from having sex. You might make friends, or brighten people's day or save lives. You might climb mountains, or swim rivers, or jump off cliffs. You might write poetry, or songs, or complex mathematical equations, or an app that lets people pop virtual bubble wrap on their phones. You might bake cakes, or schemes, or dreams. You might raise a family***, or chickens, or hopes. 

And in all of these things, it won't matter how hairy your legs are. Except when you're swimming, when you might want to shave for aerodynamic purposes.

It's ok to take the hair away too. Sometimes I have hairy legs, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I shave my legs because I like the polished feel I get, like I'm walking around on fancy table legs made out of some exotic pale wood. But women are not furniture, except for perhaps Henrietta the Hoover, and she is very debatable. So remove as much hair as you would like to. Shave stripes into your legs and paint yourself up like the American Flag, or go au naturelle. Just remember that you are not disgusting, you are a mammal. Wear your taxonomic group with pride!

*this may or may not be true. I think, on reflection, the latter is more likely.
** I refuse to say 'silky' because that implies leg hair is not silky. Leg hair can be silky. Perhaps with the right conditioner.
*** yes, I know that the romping comes first but I've been reliably informed that quite a lot of stuff comes after too.

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