This post was the real start of my “Butch?…” post, but I knew it would be a while before I could get around to collecting my thoughts on it, and wanted to get that earlier one up, lest I have confused anybody.
(Of course, it seems I just confused people more. Sorry about that…)
Hair is a tricky thing. I never thought it would be, but I’ve been surprised. I speak, of course, not of the hair on my head. But in other places – namely pits and legs.
Now, I won’t go saying that I was religious about shaving before; I’m lazy as the next person, letting my legs go during warmer winter months, and going as long as I comfortably could between pit shaves, year-round. But that level of comfort really wasn’t that high.
(Not to mention, I really love the feel of freshly shorn legs. Seriously – smooth skin is so soft and fantastic. Or perhaps those are just my sensory issues showing through.)
Point being, though I certainly never waxed, and perhaps didn’t shave as often as the next gal, keeping clean was important to me.
The question that came to me last fall, when I started thinking harder about all of this, was whether that was an issue with comfort and the length of hair, or whether it had to do with something else. The answer, as I suspected, was b. Like so much else I’ve considered during this time, my preference has less to do with comfort levels, and more to do with how I”m perceived. And, once again, it comes down to not wishing to be viewed as something I don’t consider myself.
(and a wee little bit to do with aesthetics. but just a wee bit.)
As appropriate or inappropriate as the generalizations may be, when I think of females with unshaven legs and pits, I think of lesbians. I think of hippies. I think of hippy lesbians.
And, you know, there’s nothing wrong with that. Everybody has the right to express themselves in the ways they feel fit them.
But that just… doesn’t fit me. I’m definitely not a hippy. And I’m certainly not that type of crunchy granola lesbian that comes to mind when one things of such things. And yet here was another thing that, if I had given in to my inclination or laziness, would put me in that category. And I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
So, as a sort of… I hesitate to say challenge, but as a way to figure out what my real feelings were about body hair, I stopped shaving altogether. Perhaps only a few weeks earlier than I would’ve stopped on my legs; it was somewhere in October, while I normally don’t stop until I’m done with shorts altogether for the season. But I usually shave my pits year-round, so that was more of a change. It was definitely an education, and an occasionally itchy one at that. But I learned something important: it’s not the hair that bothers me. At least not in the pits. (The leg hair hasn’t bothered me either, per se, but I do miss that smooth feel of leg against leg.) But I have to confess, it’s really been as it’s gotten warmer that the true realizations have been coming out. The ones mentioned above about the difference in how I’m viewed – or, at the very least, in how I view myself.
Whether it’s an aesthetic issue, whether it’s because it’s been ingrained in me by society, or whether it’s because of my own preconceived notions about stereotypes and what I do/don’t or should/shouldn’t look like to fit into them, I don’t like girly me with hair.
Me, hanging around the house in a manly tank-top, with hairy pits, absolutely. Me, going out in public in a manly tank-top with hairy pits – okay, that’s harder to say, between the breasts that never end, and the Italian in me that’s seen far too many swarthy men in tanks to feel comfortable with that. But the idea being that, if I looked less womanly, I’d be fine with it.
But as soon as I start to go through my wardrobe and pull out my girlier items of clothing, and more specifically, those girlier items that show leg or have little/no sleeve, I get uncomfortable. In part because I’m less comfortable in them (though, I suspect, more comfortable in them than many others, given my years of coming to terms), but also in very very large part due to self-consciousness about my body hair and what will show.
Ironically, I found myself considering tights much more often this past winter than in many years past, because of not wanting to show the hair on my legs. And I can’t much see that – or the shirt issue – changing. I could be wrong. Only time will tell.
The deeper question here being, as always, can I get to a place where I look more manly – or at least, less womanly – without Drastic Measures? I don’t think so. But I honestly don’t know. In the meantime, I’m having trouble experimenting with what I feel like the me-I’m-meant-to-be would look like, because it’s not something that can be controlled with binders and clothes, with shaving and packers.
And as much as I really love some of the roads I’ve been travelling down the last several months, it’s sometimes really hard to see what I look like, say, in jeans and a dressy polo, in my minds’ eye, and then to look in the mirror, and see the girly, busty, figure looking back at me. Looking cute, perhaps, in that polo. But not looking how I’d like to look.
Whether it’s all in my head, or actually how society views it, I’m not sure how to get past this road block of not wanting to present as a butch, crunchy lesbian, when I’m not butch, crunchy, or lesbian.