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The Razor’s Edge


There is one aspect of the Women’s Movement that sort of faded away for most women, though there are still a few die hards out there who continue the practice.
No I’m not talking about burning bras. That seemed like a good idea at the time until gravity took over after a few years. Even in the beginning, I don’t recall many 40 DDDs tossing their infrastructure into the flames.
I’m talking about hair removal or, rather, the lack thereof.
I was so counting on the furry look coming into vogue. Even though I hadn’t yet hit puberty in the 1960s, I knew that unless things changed culturally, I was doomed to spend a life where a razor was as important as a toothbrush.
I should have known better. Just like the bra-burning fervor appeared to be incited by the flat and firm, the idea to stop shaving legs and underarms seemed to be spearheaded by light-haired Nords. (These days these are the women who moan, “I hate summer. I have to shave my legs twice a month.”)
However, if you have a single chromosome of Mediterranean blood in you, you know that during the summer your legs will have a five o’clock shadow. Winter for us is heaven because we can get it down to only twice a week before our legs in pantyhose look strangely paisley.
There was a brief glimmer of hope in the late 1970s. That’s when punk star Patti Smith was splashed around the media with armpits untouched by a razor. Brooke Shields’ furry-caterpillar eyebrows were considered beautiful. But Gilda Radner’s hilarious parody of the singer made sure that the au naturale look would never become fashionable and by the 1990s, even Julia Roberts couldn’t save us from the razor. And then Brooke suddenly found time to pluck and we were all doomed.
It’s not just an appearance issue. While the kids were growing up I knew they would not sit in my lap if I wore shorts unless I had shaved by legs that very morning. I couldn’t blame them. I had the same criteria for my own mother. You could get a rash sitting on her lap on a non-shaving day. We Sicilian women have great follicular potential.
And so I am always on fuzz alert. If I get in an accident, not only will I have on the good underwear, be assured I will also have silky smooth legs. Even when I broke my wrist and was unable to grasp the razor, I stuck the handle in the top of the cast and made a day of it (my request that “someone help me shave my legs” was met with look of horror in this all-male-but-me household).
I’m not the only one, though. Once while camping there was a couple at the next site who came by motorcycle, traveling light with a tiny pup tent. But I noticed that whenever the woman’s boyfriend left to either look for kindling or visit the campsite store, she would whip out a razor and a tiny can of shaving cream and shave a small patch on her leg. Then she’d stash the lot and be done by the time he was back. Obviously not married. Does she actually think he believes she was born with no hair on her legs?
Older women have assured me that I won’t have to shave as often after menopause — my legs and armpits, anyway.

Share  Posted by Jeanne Jackson at 12:35 PM | Permalink

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