July 18, 2014 at 1:11 PM ET
This is the time of year when razor blades go into overdrive, with many women getting rid of all evidence of body hair as they don shorts and swimsuits for the summer season. So it might surprise you that one of the buzziest blogs right now features women showing off their unshaved limbs.
The Hairy Legs Club invites readers to submit photos of “fuzzy lady legs” and many have responded with enthusiasm, showing off their downy ankles, thighs and knees. (Please note some images on the site are not safe for work.)
“I think it’s important to remember that body hair is natural,” the blog moderator wrote in a recent post. “And the only ones who made it unnatural is the media set to dehumanize women. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look the way you look, if men can walk around with hair everywhere and are still expected to be loved than why can’t you?”
Besides sharing their photos, women on the site also vent about the pressure to shave their legs. One wrote that she was “made to feel like a freak” in school over her abundant body hair. Another said she felt that “nowadays if you have just one hair it is the end of the world.”
Sarah Bregel hasn’t submitted a photo, but she is among women who don’t shave their legs. The 29-year-old Baltimore mom said she stopped about three years ago during the colder pants season and never resumed the habit.
“I just felt like I was at a point in my life where I didn't need to shave my legs to feel any sort of confidence boost,” Bregel told TODAY.com. “There are so many things to be self-conscious about, but not shaving my legs isn't one of them.”
Her partner would be happy one way or the other as he is not the kind of person to worry about a little hair – “you should see his beard,” she quipped. Bregel makes an exception for special occasions – like when she served as maid of honor in a friend's wedding last fall – but she promptly lets her hair grow back afterwards. She calls her decision liberating.
Still, it’s not an easy decision to make.
In April, Veet – a company that specializes in hair removal products – came under fire for a series of ads that showed women transforming into men after not shaving their legs for a day. “Don’t risk dudeness,” the commercials warned. Veet pulled the ads after public backlash and, in a statement on the company’s Facebook page, said its intention was “never, ever, to offend anyone.”
Why so much fuss about leg fuzz?
Personal decisions about hair can get a lot of attention because hair can symbolize deeper issues surrounding gender, power, agency, and disobedience, said Breanne Fahs, associate professor of women and gender studies at Arizona State University. Fahs recently caused a stir when she offered female students extra credit if they stopped shaving their legs and underarms for 10 weeks and kept a journal of people’s reactions.
“Hair should be trivial, but it rarely is,” Fahs said. “When women rebel by growing out their body hair, it can symbolize not only a personal rebellion against social norms, but also, in some circumstances, a collective one.”
For women sharing photos on the Hairy Legs Club, it’s simply a matter of showing off their limbs in their natural state.
“They're so fuzzy & I love 'em,” another woman wrote.