How we spend our days is how we spend our lives. The decisions and choices we make create the structure on which we build our existence. As I start to pull myself together and try to determine what shape I want my life to take, I have begun to notice how much our decisions are influenced by external forces, particularly as a young woman in today’s society.
A very close friend of mine recently made the decision to grow out her leg hair. When I say recently what I really mean is that all through winter this friend had grown her hair in silence, and it wasn’t until recently that she felt comfortable enough to reveal the result of these months of growth. When the ‘big reveal’ came I was unsurprised. It was definitely not a bare leg I was presented with, but the hair was soft and fine, and it had been so long since I’d seen hair on a woman’s leg that more than anything I felt a surge of pride for my friend. I am very much of the opinion that people should have a right to do whatever they want with their bodies. Want to pierce your nose? Dye your hair green? Tattoo a Simpson’s meme on your arm? Go for it, as long as the end result makes you happy when you look in the mirror. That’s not to say I’m not judgmental, I think all humans inherently are, but when I feel myself judging someone on their appearance I try to take a step back and realise that I have no control over anyone else’s body, and nor am I entitled to an opinion on the way someone else lives their life. I guess attempting to live my life with this mentality has made me forget that not everyone conforms to this belief, and that, like I said, humans are inherently judgmental creatures.
So, when my friend decided to reveal her natural legs to some male friends and was not met with enthusiasm or excitement, rather with hesitation and confusion (and in some cases down-right disgust) I was legitimately taken aback. The reactions ranged from “I just don’t understand why” to “I don’t find it attractive”. At first, I felt saddened by the realisation that in our society we are conditioned to see the world in a certain way. In the world we live in, female body hair is so stigmatised that even in commercials for hair removal, women are shaving already hairless legs. A friend who was, at first, shocked by the hair growth found himself frustrated by his own reaction. Initially remarking his distaste at her leg hair, he listened thoughtfully to our friend’s logical reasoning behind growing it out, and later found himself questioning why it was that the idea of a woman with leg hair bothered him so much to begin with. It’s no wonder that men struggle with the idea of women having body hair when, basically from birth, they are given this false idea of what a woman should be. However, my shock quickly turned to anger. Why is it that our behaviour and our lives are dictated by the opinions of others? Why is it that my friend had to feel ashamed and embarrassed of something that is a natural part of her anatomy?
Here I come full circle to my point. How we spend our days is how we spend our lives, our decisions and choices are everything. Why is it that we insist on wasting our time and refusing to meet our full potential just to conform to some arbitrary standards set for us by society? Where do these standards and ideals even come from, and why is it that we feel so compelled to follow them? By following this set of societal guidelines that we don’t agree with or even understand, we’re putting ourselves into a box and limiting our creative potential. By conforming to these standards we’re essentially creating a world of lemmings, a place where everything thinks, feels and looks the same. To me, one of the most beautiful and intriguing things about humanity is our agency and our divergence. It’s the fact that all of us are unique, we each have the ability to be something new, something different. I’m not saying that every woman should throw out their razors or burn their bras, but merely hoping to inspire those who don’t seem to fit within the structure of the world created for us to break out, to do that thing that makes you feel good, even if it separates you from the crowd.