On Beards and Legs

The great endeavour of writing a thesis is often associated with the equally great endeavour of growing a Thesis Beard. A man in full beard is truly a magnificent sight to behold! I would love to take part in this time-honoured tradition while writing my own thesis. Alas, I am female, and cannot grow a beard to save my life.

“Still,” I thought, “there must be a way.” Like our male counterparts, women shave regularly – legs and armpits and whatnot. And so I contemplated a time-saving no-shaving Thesis Leg endeavour.

Trouble is, leg hair on females is not received in quite the same way as facial hair on males. When a man grows out his beard, many people think he’s awesome, and at worst he receives some good-natured teasing. But if a woman doesn’t shave her legs or her pits, the majority of people think it’s gross. I’ve seen this firsthand when brave young women, friends and peers of mine, have worn shorts or skirts with unshaved legs. People stare, faces curled in disgust, muttering to each other, “Ewww, did you see her legs? I can’t believe she doesn’t shave!”

Sometimes I think “Fuck it, I’m writing a thesis, I don’t have time for this shit!” And I go for my walk to the beach in my short shorts with my hairy legs on display.

But then the hair grows a bit longer, and I think “Fuck it, I’m writing at thesis, I don’t need the extra emotional battle that comes from knowing how I’ll be judged.” And so I shave.

At the end of the day my thesis is nearing completion so it’s too late for me to start a Thesis Leg trend. But I’m left wondering: What gives, society? Why such a stigma around female body hair?

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4 thoughts on “On Beards and Legs

  1. I am actually a cyclist so, in general my legs are shaved for at least 6 months a year. One rather unexpected benefit (at least for my girlfriend) is that it doesn’t freak me out or seem weird when a woman has hair on her legs (or doesn’t shave for a week). Going through the leg shaving process myself, I realize how much time goes in and how often. I don’t see the social norms changing any time soon though. Too much pressure in advertising, which is a shame.

    • It’s great to hear that your own experience with shaving has made you more accepting of women who don’t. Of course you’re right that the situation isn’t likely to change soon. Advertising is a big part of it, but it’s also just the fact that we’re so used to seeing women with hair-free legs that anything else can look wrong in comparison.

  2. As a girl who likes camping and jungle expeditions I have thought about this a lot. After a few days of not being able to shower, the things I am always craving an opportunity to do are; shave my legs and cut my finger nails. I honestly don’t care about the actual showering part. I kinda like having an excuse not to shower. But hairy legs drive me nuts (as do dirty fingernails- I just always forget to chop them before I go, in normal life I can’t stand fingernails which don’t protect the tops of the fingers). This really bothers me because I know it shouldn’t. It’s just hair. I even get jealous of my male colleges who have almost scratch free legs due to their protective layer of hair, while mine look like I’ve been exploring a forest of knives, not twigs (I tried gaters for a while but they make you too hot! and they’re annoying to put on). But for some reason which I have no logical explanation for I just really want to shave my stupid legs.

    I may not have a thesis beard but I definitely have a thesis mane. My hair has never been anywhere close to how long it is at the moment!

    • I know what you mean, I hate seeing my own hairy legs.

      My hair is also the longest it’s ever been (though I don’t think my hair could ever be described as a mane)! I’m really looking forward to a nice haircut when I’m done.

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