I wanted to write about some of my deep thoughts on make-up and simply don’t have the brain power for it today. It’s all convoluted and involves all kinds of connected topics such as trans*women, the covering up of “blemishes” or scars, and my own experience with a changing face.

Aw, hell, let’s try for it anyway. Okay, here we go.

Basically, I wanted to talk about what’s real and what’s “not real” and ask us all to ponder some questions about that distinction. Let’s talk about me and my rosacea for a moment. A few months back, I realized that when I manage to successfully cover the redness up with make-up, I felt better about going out in public. I felt less ashamed to be seen and more secure. When I got stared at, I thought to myself, “Today they’re looking at me because they think I’m attractive, not because I look like a splotchy-faced clown.”

However, I also found myself dismissing these stares and any compliments on my appearance because I didn’t feel like it was “real”. I found myself thinking things like, “If they only knew how bad my skin really looks under this make-up, they wouldn’t be saying that.” So, that led me to wonder how make-up does or does not play into a trans*woman’s experience of feeling “real”. And what does it mean to women in general if they’re taught to feel most attractive by applying something foreign to the base version of the “real” them? 

BUT those thoughts are a month or so old now and while they still apply, another experience has interceded and changed the flavor of them. In the last month, I’ve decided/realized a few important things:

a) due to her genes, my daughter is likely to have pretty severe acne in her teenage years. Her father had it and, physically, she is his mini-me. I realized that would be hard on her at that vulnerable time in her life, and in a massive, huge, wow-life-changing epiphany, I realized I didn’t want to model for her an obsession with my own skin. I didn’t want her to see me fretting about how it looked, or feeling ashamed of it, or complaining that I felt unattractive. Which, I’m ashamed to admit, she definitely has overheard many times in the past. I wanted to start modeling a behavior for her that makes it known that what her face looks like is so much less important than WHO SHE IS. So, I’ve stopped talking about my face. Ever.

Picture (not me!) from Razor Free Inspiration.

b) I decided on a whim to not shave my legs again until the hair has entirely grown out. I realized that I’ll be forty this year and I’ve never really seen my body as it naturally looks because I’ve spent my entire life, since I was nine years old and started puberty early, shaving and making it out like my body is something that needs fixed.

When my eight year old started asking when she could shave and I found myself struggling to explain why she couldn’t yet and what exactly “you don’t need to” means (because who NEEDS to? we aren’t going to die if we don’t shave) I chose to do this “no more shaving” experiment. I’ll cop to the fact that I am still shaving my armpits because I don’t like how hair feels under there. I let it grow pretty long but it was bugging me, so I shaved it. My leg hair is not bugging me, though, so I’m going to keep letting it grow.

I might shave again when I’m done and I might not. It all depends on how I feel at that time and if it’s something that I want to do. I admit I’ll probably want to shave for bathing suit season. The social issues alone are something I’m not sure I want to deal with, but I’ll need to give that some thought, too. 

c) By choosing to not talk about my face, or allow myself to even act like the rosacea is bothering me, and by choosing to let my body be natural in terms of the hair on my legs, I’ve discovered that I am much more interested in who I AM than in what I look like. And that realization has made me see how many years and how many hours I’ve lost being distracted with concerns about what I look like. I can’t fathom that men lose even a quarter as much time on that same question. The requirements for men are so much less time consuming and don’t boil down to these tiny nuances like the shape of their eyebrows or if their pubes are properly trimmed. When my husband wants to go swimming, he puts on a bathing suit and goes. When I want to go swimming, I have to tame a forest first. It’s exhausting and, frankly, makes me say no to swimming a lot more often than it makes me say yes. 

Since I’ve stopped focusing on my rosacea and stopped shaving, my husband’s sexual interest in me doesn’t seem to have waned and may have even grown. Not because he gets off on hairy legs (which would be fine, but he doesn’t), but because I think I’m a lot less anxious and a lot more willing to just let it all go in the moment, which is, of course, a lot more fun all around. No more, “Sorry, I didn’t shave….” comments. Or turn-off conversations consisting of, “Why is my face so bad? I didn’t eat any corn. It’s so ugly.” Instead, it’s just me being me and me not apologizing for stupid shit like hairy legs.

So, yeah, so far it’s all been a big success and while I can’t say that I feel awesome about how I LOOK, what I can say is that I think about how I look a lot less, and that’s AWESOME.

If I have the inner strength not to shave and wear what I want…I have the strength and mental fortitude to do anything – L Kaur

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6 thoughts on “Growing My Leg Hair Out For Self-Esteem #feminism #shaving #rosacea

  1. Interesting thoughts. I’ve always been very much “what you see is what you get”, as I hardly ever use make-up. Now though, turning 40 this year like you, I feel more pressurised to make myself a bit prettier. Also, due to the ending of a long-term relationship, that makes me want to look nice. Which is kind of ridiculous, I mean, why would I now start really caring what other people think of me as I have not ever done that before. I guess I am not quite good embracing that fact that I am getting older and at the same time I need to cope being on my own again. Anyway, I think what you say is right though, that once you stop focussing so much on your looks, you can just start enjoying of life.

    1. Oh, this getting older thing has been hard. It really has. It’s weird to realize the men my own age are definitely not interested in checking me out at the grocery store. Nope, they’re looking at the women ten years younger than me. The only men who look at me now are old enough to be my father…or, oddly, young enough to be my son. Ha! The 19yos seem to think I’m smokin’ hot given how they stare at my breasts and get all flirty with me. I suspect I’m safe to flirt with for them because they know I’m not going to take them up on any shenanigans. But men of my own age are not at all interested in looking at me. It’s been…a change. Anyway, yeah, not focusing on my looks has been really freeing!

      1. The age difference in the previous relationship was 11 years, he was the younger one! I have to say that I am not comfortable being with someone who is not either my age or younger, although a 19 years old partner would probably been pushing too far. 😉 So based on your experience, what chance I shall ever have? 😀

        It is true though that everything is so based on looks and I cannot compete in the area, so it now feels that I’ve doomed to be on my own for the rest of my life. Dramatic, I know. 😀 but that just is the thing, I should be confident and enjoy of what life throws and not care if cannot fit to the mould of twentysomethings with their perfect skin and hair.

        This was really nice exchange to know one is not alone with these things, I mean I know I’m not, but currently my friends / colleagues are so much younger and don’t have the sudden age crises like I seem to have now. Really did not expect getting all antsy about turning 40. I guess sometimes there times when cannot take everything to the chin and get going like normally. I guess I’m still rattled by after a breakup and in a process of building of myself again. Weird all that.

        Anyway, my bottom line here originally was to say how great it is that you want to be a different kind of role model to your daughter, and I just think how awesome it is that you are starting to feel so comfortable about yourself and your looks. Gives definitely hope for me too. 🙂 Thanks.

  2. I haven’t shaved my legs or armpits during the winter for a long, long time. Just don’t see the point. One of these days I’m going to write a blog post about how women hide behind a mask when wearing makeup. Good post.

  3. I don’t wear makeup. I did for a few months once, in my twenties, but it was a pain, took too much time, and getting eye makeup off was horribly irritating, so I quit. People would occasionally do the, “Well, surely you’ll wear makeup for [insert special occasion coming up]” but I didn’t wear any on my own wedding day, and being able to SAY that I didn’t wear makeup to my wedding pretty much shuts down all the special occasion people. 🙂

    I’ll admit I don’t like going out in shorts with hairy legs, but I don’t like shaving. I wear jeans or sweats most of the time, but I used to shave all summer so I could wear shorts when it was hot. But a few years ago I got some really bad edema in my lower legs — the tops of my feet and everything up to my knees swelled up with fluid build-up, and I had blisters the size of silver dollars all over my legs. I had to keep up with medicating and changing bandages twice a day, major pain. Medication didn’t work. I finally just ended up spending most of my time in a recliner (where I am right now with my laptop). A side effect is that the skin on my lower legs is very fragile. It was worse for a couple of years after the edema faded enough that I no longer get blister, but it’s like a balloon — once you’ve blown it up and then let the air out, the rubber is much thinner and more fragile. I cut myself a LOT when I’m shaving, because the skin isn’t as resilient as it used to be. So I shave even less often. I suppose one of these days I’ll just say “Screw it” and decide I don’t care anymore, and go out in shorts with my hairy legs. I’m not quite there yet, but I can see it coming.

    Angie

  4. I haven’t shaved my legs in yeeeeears. For me, it’s an expression of gender non-normativity, but also… I just don’t want to. Sometimes I get my girlfriend to wax it, but that’s just fun-times.

    This week I did some armpit hair removal because I hadn’t shaved them since September and I couldn’t lower my arms anymore. LOL, kidding, but I am pretty damn hairy, so I couldn’t put on deodorant–it would just stick to he hair. TMI, I know, but I’m growing it back out because I like it better that way.

    Also, if I call my girlfriend cute or pretty or beautiful when she’s NOT wearing make-up, she will not believe me. She’s trans and she seems to think if she’s not plastered with cosmetics I’m going to see a dude. Not even a little bit. I only ever see HER, even when she’s totally naked. So, yeah, she’s just one person but she’s very self-conscious when she doesn’t have make-up on.

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