I really did intend to do a 2-month post but my photographer has been super booked (and by that I mean my girlfriend is now not only working full-time but also going to school full-time so we don’t see a lot of each other during prime photo-taking daylight hours). Instead I give you an almost-3-month post (the photos below were taken 10 days shy of a full 3 months of no shaving).
I still have yet to hear any negative remarks concerning my hairy legs, though I have caught some folks staring awkwardly. Far from the prickly landscape I had imagined, I rather like the way my legs feel now. They’re actually quite soft! And though it isn’t an everyday occurrence, I love seeing the juxtaposition of my fuzzy legs framed by the hem of a dress and a pair of heels.
Slowly but surely, I’m retraining my brain, imprinting in it a new understanding of femininity and what femme means for me. I’m learning new ways to be okay in my body, to express my inner self through my physical self. I’m a hard femme, a little rough on the edges. I discard traditional ideas of femininity and form my own. I’m creating a home for myself within myself and learning to love that place.
It would be an understatement to say that my relationship with my body has been a rocky one, the reasons for which could (and maybe will) be fodder for numerous separate blog posts. Over the years I’ve vacillated between proudly embracing my physical being and waging a neverending war on it. The latter tends to be my default setting, and I’ve been stuck there (although on a slightly kinder scale than usual) for a while now.
I talk a lot about body positivity and self-acceptance but it’s something that I have yet to fully own for myself. I’ve spent so many years being on the verge of loving myself. ‘I like myself but I wish my skin would just clear up already’ or ‘I’m okay with my size but my clothes would fit better if I just lost 10 pounds or so.’ The waiting is exhausting. And I’m not going to do it anymore.
Today is the day I stop wishing for a better me and start loving the one who is here now. I’m fat. I’m 5’1″ and I’m a size 14. I’m not saying that I’m fat to put myself down. I’m not fishing for compliments or hoping you will disagree with me. I’m merely stating a fact. I’m fat, just like I’m an Aries and I’m right-handed. I’m still just as fierce as I was when I was a size 8 (only now I’m healthy and not downing diet pills and Slim Fast daily).
I am tired of the idea that one cannot be fat and beautiful. And I’m really sick of the assumption that fat is inherently unhealthy. It isn’t. According to my former fat-shaming nurse practitioner, I am obese based on my BMI and should lose at least 20 pounds. Nevermind that my heart sounds great, my cholesterol levels are fantastic and my blood pressure is picture-perfect, despite having a pretty dismal family history in all three areas. Nothing about my general health gives any indication that my weight is causing me any physical ailments. Yet my health care provider insisted on spending a good portion of my last visit focused on my weight (while completely ignoring other actual health concerns that I had that day).
I refuse to continue listening to that nonsense and letting it eat away at me. I’m vowing here and now to commit to the work of unlearning years of self-hate heaped upon me by the media, doctors, family, advertising. As of today, I will stop pining for clothes that no longer fit and trying to squeeze myself into things two sizes too small. You know that scene in Pretty in Pink where Andie is convinced Blane isn’t going to show up for their date but she keeps hopefully reapplying makeup anyway and Iona tells her she’s “wishful makeupping”? Well I’m wishful wardrobing. And I need to cut it out. I deserve to be comfortable and look fabulous too, dammit! Now, not later. I will not waste any more time waiting for a better me because the truth is, I am a better me. I’ve worked really hard to get here and I’m not going to let this hold me back any longer from being the truest version of me I can be.
I’m letting go of the idea that I need to punish myself in order to feel “physically fit.” I’m getting rid of the workout DVDs that I hate so much but used to force myself to do. No more wasting money on gym memberships or home equipment I will never use either. I’m going to focus only on things that make me feel good, regardless of how many calories I may or may not be burning.
I’m going to start truly loving myself and treating my body with respect. A simple idea but I know it won’t be as easy as it might sound. I’ve spent over half my life treating my body as my enemy. Peace negotiations are going to take time.
Never fear, dear readers, I have not given up on the Fuzzy Femme Project. It’s been a little over a month since I ceased depilating and I’m back with an update.
It wasn’t nearly as irritating as I had expected going through the stubble phase. And I’m pleasantly surprised at how most of the time I forget that my legs are hairy now. For the most part, I forget about my underarms too, until I’m in the shower. Then I still do a double-take most days as I raise my arms to rinse my hair and see a dark mound of curls under my arms. Oh yeah, I remember, that’s me now. It’s still a bit of a novelty.
I went out in a dress and heels for the first time with visibly hairy legs. I will admit to a mild internal panic before leaving the house. (What can I say, it takes time to undo years worth of patriarchal conditioning.) I haven’t yet received any negative attention because of my body hair, but we’re still fairly early on in the project.
It feels nice not to constantly have ingrown hairs on my legs. You can tell by the scars on my leg that those were a frequent occurrence (and that I was/am a picker…but that’s another post entirely). It’s also very freeing to just let my body be my body. I’m still adjusting to its physical appearance but this is true on many levels, not just regarding my newly hairy legs and pits. This project isn’t just about examining mine and society’s relationship with women and body hair or redefining femme for myself. It’s another way for me to embrace my physical being. Loving my body for what it is has been a lifelong battle and my newest rendering of me is just another step toward victory.