Continuing my travel girl’s guide to hair removal series, I wanted to give you the opposite side of the story. While I was researching my upcoming hair removal guide, I spoke to a bunch of travellers about their hair removal habits. I also spoke to several girls who don’t bother with hair removal at all. It intrigued me, and so I decided to ask them a few more questions.
These are the things I’ve always wondered about not shaving your legs! For me, having always been taught to crave hair-free legs, it seems pretty alien not to want to. But, having spent the past fifteen years of my life in a never-ending battle against my fast-growing body hair, it’s also pretty intriguing. Not shaving your legs would definitely make travel a lot easier. But would it make me feel less sexy, or repulse potential partners? I asked three girls all my awkward and burning questions to get a little insight.
Three Travel Girls Who Stopped Shaving Their Legs
Lia – Practical Wanderlust
“I stopped in high school, after only shaving for a few years. When I first started shaving my legs I would end up with nicks and cuts on my legs, I would lose my balance in the shower trying to shave my legs, and it was so frustrating that after only a day they would turn from smooth to stubbly and itchy. I was wasting so much time and effort shaving and I just didn’t see the point!
“Once I stopped shaving and realised they would be smooth all the time, I never looked back. There’s no hygienic reason to shave one’s legs – it’s an arbitrary, relatively recent expectation of women (since the 80s, I believe) that’s based on pretty much nothing. You have to do it every day to keep up, and it’s a huge hassle. My legs feel smooth after shaving, and I don’t have to deal with the hassle or pander to the expectation to look a certain way.”
“I stopped sometime near the end of my undergrad. I was just so busy, in a long term relationship, exhausted all the time, and that stuff was just not something I was thinking about.
“Honestly, I do remove it (shave, generally) when it gets really awful and uncomfortable to wear tights or skinnies, though, but that’s just for me, and only when I am in a place where it’s cold enough to warrant those things.”
Amy – The Wanderlust Adventures
“I started my first long term travel adventure back in January 2015 and after 3 weeks of trying to keep up with growth in Thailand I just sort of gave up. Trying to shave in hostel showers isn’t the most pleasant or comfortable experience!”
What’s It Like Not Shaving Legs? Question Time
How light/noticeable is your leg hair?
(Side question – if it was darker would you be more inclined to shave?)
Lia – My leg hair is pretty noticeable on my shins, but the backs of my legs and my thighs are mostly much free of hair. It’s not very dark, or thick – no one, aside from a woman giving me a pedicure in South America who asked about it, has ever noticed that my legs are hairy until I’ve pointed it out to them.
It’s convenient that it’s light and not very noticeable, but I still don’t think I would be tempted to shave if it was darker. My legs are just SO smooth with hair, and so itchy and stubbly after a day when I shave!
Sheevs – Oh it’s definitely noticeable. I’m half Malaysian of Indian origin, so my hair is black. It’s not that thick and there’s not that much of it, but if you really looked at my legs, you would notice. A cursory glance might not, though.
Amy – I’m quite lucky. I have dark hair but it’s very patchy (unsure why!). I think if it was fuller I’d be more worried about getting rid!
What’s your partner’s honest opinion?
Amy -I don’t have a partner. But if they mentioned for me to shave my legs I’d tell then to shave their face!
Lia – My husband’s honest opinion: “I don’t care! I wouldn’t want to shave every day either, it sounds like a chore. Besides, it’s your body.”
I’ve had many partners over the years, and none of them cared about my hairy legs. Some of them thought it was cool that I was making a feminist statement by rejecting the patriarchal expectations of women’s appearances. Some of them didn’t particularly like it, but didn’t mind it, either. Most don’t notice until I point it out or ask them about it. I’ve found my leg hair to be a helpful filter in weeding out douchebags: if a guy has a strong opinion about what I do with my looks or my body, we wouldn’t be a good match, because that’s not something I’m comfortable with.
Sheevs – I don’t currently have a partner but I’ve been in several committed relationships, as well as had several casual flings. No one has ever cared, and most people don’t even seem to notice. I’ve discussed this at length with several men that I’ve known romantically or platonically, and almost all have said it’s not really something they think about in the heat of the moment (or any moment, really). As one person put it: “I get to have sex with you. No offence, but there are more interesting parts of your body than your calves and how hairy they may or may not be”.
Really puts things into perspective: I started shaving or waxing my legs when I was 15 because I was so scared guys in my class would notice and tease me about it!
Do you ever feel uncomfortable getting your legs out when they’re hairy?
Sheevs – I mean, sure. If I’m getting all dressed up for a party, I might think about it. And then promptly forget again! And of course, I have been known to shave my legs before a big date. But that’s not a common occurrence and honestly I feel like it’s too much hassle. Same with hair pretty much everywhere on my body though- and again, no one has ever complained. Really, never. I’ve been asked if I would remove it, and I guess I would if a long term partner had a strong preference, but so far none have.
Amy – If I’m around friends I wouldn’t think twice. I’ve never cared if they have hairy legs or not! And I have never gone around to check so I doubt they ever would!
Lia – They’ve been hairy for over ten years now, and I can honestly say, no. If anything, it makes me feel more confident, because I enjoy being a little bit rebellious. It’s fun to go out looking sexy as hell, made up, hair on point, fly as hell, and then reject the patriarchy with my legs all at the same time, as if to say: I look hot for myself, not you.
Does it make you feel less sexy?
Amy – A little. But then I don’t need to feel sexy all the time. If I want to feel sexy, like for a special event or night out, then I’d definitely make sure the hair is gone!
Sheevs – Honestly, given that I don’t even give it any thought, no. I’m sexy for reasons far removed from the amount of leg hair I happen to be rocking that day.
Lia – Not even remotely. It makes me feel more sexy to be myself. I don’t really even think about it or notice them at this point – and neither does anyone else – but they’re always there, as a reminder that I don’t owe anyone anything, that I can make my own choices and decisions, and nobody gets to tell me what to do with my body or my appearance.
Top Tips for Not Shaving Legs
If you’ve been shaving your legs for a while, it can be pretty daunting to let it all grow. Here are a couple of helpful tips if you’re thinking of quitting shaving your legs.
“Just go with the flow! If you are self conscious to begin with, wearing loose fitting pants is always an option! But in the end, no one really cares.” Amy
Remember, your leg hair is way more noticeable to you than to anyone else. I was really paranoid about my four day old leg hair the other day, but when I mentioned it to two friends they were baffled. They couldn’t notice it! As Lia says:
“Literally no one will notice that you’ve stopped shaving your legs except for you and possibly any romantic partners who find their faces very close to them. This can be disappointing at first as you expect to fend off a storm of accusatory sexists or brag to all of your friends about your new badass who-cares-it’s-my-body attitude. You’ll have to try to find a way to work it into casual conversation.”
Be confident. It’s your body, and your decision to shave or not shave. Own your decision and be confident with it!
Wear loose, long trousers or skirts for the first couple of weeks. As your hair grows out it’ll be stubbly at first, so it might help you stick to your guns if you keep it covered until the hair gets a little longer.
Lia’s Top Tips
The first two weeks are rough, because it will feel scratchy and stubbly. But after that, things will start to be smooth again. Once you can truly ignore the status of your newly natural legs, you’ll never notice them at all (unless you suddenly come face to face with your legs and then it’s like “oh yeah, I’m a badass who doesn’t give AF about societal expectations of me, I almost forgot”).
If it ever gets to you – if the look or feeling of your unshaven legs bothers you in any way, or you find yourself yearning for the days of your smooth, daily-shaven past, just shave your legs again. There’s no good or bad way to make choices about your body and do whatever you want with it. And again – I cannot stress this enough – absolutely no one but you will notice or care about the hair or lack thereof on your body. (It goes without saying that anyone who is preoccupying themselves with your personal body hair decisions can f*** right off, of course).
My Take on Not Shaving My Legs
First off, I just want to say a huge thank you to the three girls for putting up with my impertinent questions, and for sharing as much as they have.
Rocking hairy leg chic seems like a bold feminist statement, as well as the kind of laziness towards beauty that I love. But I’m still not sure I can do it. When my legs feel smooth, I feel sexy – and I think a lot of that is down to personal preference. I prefer the feeling of smooth legs and hate having them hairy. Whether that’s a hang-up based on societal pressures or simply an individual preference, I’m personally not ready to start growing-out.
I did an experiment before coming to Mexico, and grew my leg hair out for almost six weeks. It was winter in England and I was wearing jeans everyday, so no one saw. But I couldn’t really get used to the feeling, and as soon as I knew I was heading to hotter weather, I got my razor out.
However, I have got a lot more confident towards not shaving. I used to shave every other day (at least) and would never go out in shorts if I had even the slightest bit of stubble. Maybe I’m just getting older and lazier, but I’ve found that I care a lot less now. While I’ve been in mexico, I’ve been happily shaving about once every 4/5 days. Turns out, no one but me can notice my leg hair unless they actually touch my legs! It’s pretty refreshing to be so much less worried about it, but I definitely couldn’t quit shaving permanently.
Your Take on Girls Not Shaving
Final thought from Lia – “Everyone’s different! There’s nothing wrong with preferring smooth legs. The important thing is that we all not shame those with different preferences than ours.”
So what do you think? Could you give up shaving your legs? Have you already stopped? Or are you like me and prefer to keep them smooth?
Do you think not shaving is “gross”? Or do you wish you could quit shaving, but don’t feel confident enough? Join the poll below and scroll down to leave a comment. I’d especially love to hear from more girls who don’t shave, and find out how you feel about it!
If you’re a grower, a shaver, or a waxer – I want to hear your thoughts! Please scroll down and leave us a comment!