Every day I come home from work to an inbox overflowing with e mails, most of which are comments about the most recent post. But sprinkled in between, I get comments from classic posts — stuff I’ve written a while ago and totally forgotten about. Just last week I got a comment about Excuse Me Mo, an irreverent open letter to Monique that I wrote in 2006. I figure my post ranks high up in a Google search for Monique or hairy legs or something — either way, wow did that prove to be a divisive topic! What a difference two years has made. Now I completely see where it’s apparently hypocritical of me to be so pro-natural hair growing out of my head, and so anti-hair growing out of the rest of my body.
We’ve become an overplucked society, obsessed with manscaping and accepting of hair removal on children who are too young to even grow pubes. I don’t mean to add to the insistent hair removal drumbeats that grow louder every summer. Apologies to those of you I may have offended, that certainly wasn’t my intent. I’ve always loved the look of endlessly smooth, sexy legs a la Tina Turner, but I respect your right to remain hirsute.
I’ve been mulling over my reasons for being a proud afrobella and simultaneously an avowed body hair remover — both things definitely go back to my childhood. I remember a family friend who unabashedly sported a wild tangle of armpit hair. She was definitely an object of ridicule, and that negative connotation lingered with me. It was reinforced tenfold in high school. Back in the day I had a teacher who had extremely hairy legs and a penchant for knee-length skirts. Add to the fact that her last name contained the word “ram” — it didn’t take long for high school comediennes to dub her “ram goat,” “goat legs,” and assorted nicknames to that effect.
We wore knee-length skirts as part of our school uniform, so I got into shaving my legs from back then. I came to realize that waxing was preferable to bleaching when it came to dealing with facial hair. That came after a classmate was informed bluntly that her growing-out bleached mustache made her “look like a bumblebee.” Ouch! We had some sharp tongues back then!
It was from that point that I started paying closer attention to my own body hair situation, and I’ve never looked back. It’s a beauty regimen I don’t particularly relish — I don’t know any woman who actually is like, “yay, shaving!” I do sometimes get lazy and let things lapse for a week or sometimes more. The upkeep can be a PITA. But IMO, it’s worth it. Here’s why. Keeping my eyebrows neat and upper lip waxed definitely makes my face look cleaner and brighter, and my features more defined. It really does make a notable difference to my overall look. Waxing my armpits helps to keep my skin uni-toned — years of shaving left my armpits discolored, and waxing helps to alleviate that. And I choose to shave my legs for three simple reasons.
1. Personal preference — I think a smooth, stubble-free leg is beautiful. Give me a gam-revealing skirt, a pair of kitten heels, and freshly shaven legs, and I feel oh-so-ladylike. And sexy.
2. Shaving makes my legs feel touchable and smooth. I absolutely adore how soft my legs feel post-shave.
Which brings me to 3 — So does my husband. Bonus.
If you’re not down with shaving, waxing, or other forms of hair removal, that’s cool. You do you, I’ma do me. For me, that means stepping out into summertime with a big, crazy fro on the top of my head, paired with smooth, hairless legs. Call me crazy. Either way, there are some newish products on the market that are helping me keep my situation as smooth as possible.
The Schick Quattro for women was inspired by the design of men’s razors — the head pivots to give better access to those curvy, hard to reach spots that I always miss when shaving. No more random back-of-the-leg stubble for this bella! With four blades and two conditioning strips, it’s hard to screw up. I shave in the shower, and always slather on some Skin Milk Shaving Milk anyway, just to be on the safe side. (Any creative or entrepreneurial bellas should check out the Roxy and Schick Quattro Follow Your Heart Tour — if you “use your head, follow your heart, and love every minute of life,” you apparently can win $10,000. But I have no idea what the rules are or what you do to enter).
When I first heard about the Venus Embrace, I seriously laughed out loud — this was too uncannily like one of one of my favorite articles from The Onion. “From now on, we’re the ones who have the edge in the multi-blade game. Are they the best a man can get? F%*& no. Gillette is the best a man can get!” So yes, the Venus Embrace is the newfangled Venus, and it has five — count em’ FIVE blades — making for the smoothest, closest shave evah. And it’s cute, too, with it’s aqua and green accents. But was there a hugely noticeable difference between four blades and five? Not so much, I gotta admit.
Here’s the rub with razors — the refills are so insanely overpriced. A 8 pack refill cartridge package of Schick Quattro blades costs $18.49. Gillette Venus refills will set you back $24.99 — a pretty penny for such smoothness. Which is why sometimes I’m like farewell, razors — I’m trying to keep my leg hair at bay in an affordable way. When the time allows it and I’m not being rushed to leave for the beach ASAP, I prefer to use Veet. The creamy hair remover that comes with a bladeless thingy to scrape off the hair works excellently for some, and not so much for others. It’s always best to do a patch test to determine your skin’s sensitivity, and this stuff does stink like a bad perm. But for a 3 to 5 minute treatment that leaves your legs oh so soft, it’s worth it for me. If you hate depilatories and don’t tend to get results from this hair removal method, you should still steer clear — Veet doesn’t reinvent the wheel in that department. Stick to shaving if you’ve had Nair or Veet issues in the past.
When I shave my legs, I like them to be slick but not shiny. If you’re searching for the perfect apres-shower moisturizer, I’ll tell ya about the one I like the most lately — Mama Mio Omega Body Oil, which costs $35 a bottle. Pricey, but it’s certainly light and super absorbent. It’s the kind of stuff that my skin feels like it needs. Mama Mio skincare for supermamas is an amazing brand I’ve been meaning to tell y’all about for a minute now — I gave their BBB kit (for boobs, bellies, and bottoms natch) to my super pregnant amiga Jessica for a shower gift, and she adores the stuff. Especially the boob tube, which I believe she described as “crucial.”
Of late I’ve been doing a whole lot of bikini waxing — my reviews for Pretty in the City have led to some great, and notably, some terrible wax experiences. Lately, I’ve been steering clear of wax and leaning back towards less painful forms of hair removal, especially after what I learned from Erica at Wax On, Wax Off — salicylic acid + black skin + wax = a big no no. For now I’m giving my bikini area a break and checking out alternatives — I am particularly intrigued by Hair Care Down There, a three part system that involves shaving, soothing, and smoothing. That sounds do-able — moreso than the $99 Ultimate Shaving Kit that comes with stencils and body jewels and all sorts of crap I won’t need. I like the fact that this kit is simple and helps to calm and hydrate the skin after use. Have any of you bellas tried it? Let me know if it worked for you.
So what’s your philosophy — to shave, or not to shave? It’s your prerogative either way, and I would love to hear from you on that. I just hope my two cents and product recommendations help to keep your summer as smooth and fun as you want it to be!