Don't shave, unless you really want to

June 27, 1990

   A few days ago at my other job, a co-worker of mine showed me the chemical burns she got from using Nair. They weren't serious, but they weren't fun, either. It was the first time she tried taking the hair off her body with chemicals. She was tired, I guess, of using a razor.
   I'd be tired, too. I don't even like to shave my face in the morning. Holding a razor-sharp (razor-sharp ? It is a razor!) blade to my face before I'm even fully awake is not a good idea. But I'm not fully awake until sometime after 2 p.m., and by then people would notice my Fu Manchu stubble, so I'm forced to use an electric razor. It's usually too early in the morning to have something vibrate next to my face, but then, life is full of compromises.
   But shaving your face is one thing, shaving your legs, arms and odds and ends is another. That's one compromise I wouldn't expect anyone to make, unless they really wanted to. But I'm not quite sure many women really want to. Scraping a blade over your body, at any time of the day, doesn't sound like much fun. Call me a fuddy-duddy, it just doesn't. And the other options don't sound too pleasant either. Here are a few of the other options whipped up for the deforestation of women's bodies:
   * Various nasty chemicals are applied to the skin. The chemicals attack the hair follicles, and the hairs come along quietly. The result: baby smooth skin and the occasional rash or chemical burn.
   * Wax is applied to the skin. The wax is yanked away, taking hair with it. Ouch. Not entirely unlike childhood games involving electrician's tape and other unsuspecting children, except this time people pay to have it done to them.
   * Vicious looking devices -- the Epilady, for example -- are applied to the skin. Spinning wire coils grab hairs and yank them out of their roots in a fraction of a second. Ouch and double-ouch. Some women swear by them. But then, some people swear by their mother's graves. Neither sounds too pleasant.
   The ingenuity of human beings amazes me. Nature spends millions of years making creatures grow cell walls, then scales, then fur, then nice, fuzzy skin. Very nice. But not nice enough, apparently, for some men.
   Some boys, more precisely. The sort of creatures, somewhere on the path from scaly to fuzzy, who can't stand to have a pair of fuzzy legs interfere with their leering. Few things annoy them so.
   If people want to de-hair themselves, fine and dandy. Let me stand in the way of no one's bliss. If they want to bite tinfoil, they can do that, too. But women shouldn't feel obligated to scrape themselves bare because some men seem to demand it. To blazes with them. Let them shave themselves. Let them try Nair. Let them wax the areas not covered by their skimpy little Speedos (or better yet, let them wear some decent trunks). Let them give the Epilady a whirl. They will never grunt the same again.
   I'd like to start a campaign. I'd like to replace every cheesecake billboard ad in town with a pair of healthy, happy, unshaven legs and this simple slogan:

      DON'T STARE.

   Thank you for your cooperation.

© 1990 Randel Shard
First published in The Minnesota Daily on June 27, 1990