Friday, June 7, 2013

Hair

Hair is a funny thing. Women grow it all the time. SURPRISE. But there are countless industries based on the removal of said hair. I don’t really want to get into the feminism side of this, since you’re not here to see my soap box (which is good, because I'm a thru-hiker, so my soap box is empty because I am utterly filthy). But, the whole thing is a bit conflictual for me. Suffice it to say I believe that one can be a hairless feminist. The important part is that you find you hotter with or without hair, whatever your own preference is for making you want to make out with yourself more. Because really, isn’t that what’s important anyway?


Before I left on the trail, I lived in New York City. Everyone who’s NOT from NYC has this idea that you can get away with anything in New York. There is the magical land where everyone is crazier than the last person, so you can act like a total loon ball and people will say “Hey! Well, at least she’s not squatting in the middle of the intersection of 8th and 43rd, reading a newspaper and taking a poop.”
Au Contraire, my lovelies.

New York City is chock full of people who are teeming with PRIDE, and if you are deviant enough, you will be shunned. The people of this city do not want to associate with you, sit near you, nor make eye contact with you if you cross the thin line from being “fashionably eccentric” to “a freak.” In addition, they will openly mock you. Gleefully. Apparently, hairy legs don’t just cross that line, they leap over that line like an Olympic Hurdler, in a blur of fuzzy medal-winning glory.

I do need to qualify what I mean by HAIRY legs. I don’t have cute, soft peach fuzz. None of this: “D’awww, look at that little hippie girl!” Nay. My leg hair is the Kool-Aid Punch Bowl of the follicle world. It smashes through walls with the sheer audacity of its existence, sending children scattering and shrieking into the night like goats fleeing El Chupacabra. If you were Samuel L. Jackson, my leg hair would be the horde of silent, deadly velociraptors, which devour everything but your arm, and then leave said arm resting in such a place that it could be found later by the main heroine, like an April Fool’s joke of pure goddamn terror.

Clever girl.

Some combination of my genes made it such that hair grows on my body like the amazon rainforest, creating a veritable canopy, under which all sorts of fascinating and horrible creatures can thrive. However, due to some cruel cosmic joke, the hair on my head is like thin, wispy candyfloss, and I’m 99% sure that I will become as bald as a monk by the time I'm 35. At that point, I will wear lots of bandanas. Or rainbow clown afro wigs. I haven't decided.

I didn’t leave myself unshorn because of an attempt to make a statement. I wasn’t trying to evoke any sort of emotions or provoke any thought. No. It’s because my hair is made of thick, NASA-grade titanium. Though I have tried every single shaving product that has ever existed, whenever I do shave my legs, I get huge patches of gristly, ingrown hairs and red splotches. Furthermore, it grows faster than acne on an adolescent. I would shave in the morning, and by 3pm, there would be visible hair and my legs would feel like shark skin. It simply wasn’t worth it. And I didn’t mind having hairy legs, so I figured, why would it matter?

As it turns out in New York, it did matter, and I was verbally assaulted and physically threatened on several occasions precisely because of my legs. Also, they were really hot in the summer. So I rid myself of the leg hair by shaving or waxing in the summer, and just let the hair grow in the winter. When I decided I was going to hike the AT, I realized with great delight that I was going to be living in the woods and no one would expect me to have hairless legs. In fact, perhaps my gorilla skin would be revered, perhaps something of which I could be proud.

And proud I was, my friends. The entire 3 months of the trail I have yet to meet anyone, male or female, with hairier legs than mine. Who cares if I felt a little bit like a Greek Satyr, balancing my human body awkwardly on a pair of furry goat legs? So what if people would mistake me for a man? I had sincerely no choice - having access to a potential shower at most once a week makes it impossible to shave, as I would then have to suffer the aforementioned red welts and stubble immediately afterward and for days on end.

But there is something I did not account for:

The heat.

On the first 80-degree day I thought that perhaps it was only a fluke. Maybe there wasn't enough wind. I couldn't account for the fact that I could feel breeze on my slightly-less-densely-hairy thighs, whereas I felt no breeze whatsoever on my lower legs. It wasn't such a bother for the first day of blazing heat. Or the second. But the third day, I began to feel frustrated with this pair of immovable leggings. I was wearing shorts, but it felt like I was wearing Hotdog's fleece-lined spandex pants. After two weeks of the non-stop woolen knee-socks causing me immense discomfort in regard to heat, I knew that something had to happen.

So I got my legs waxed.

The woman who did it was admirably unfazed by my downy coat. She even gave me a five-dollar discount for not being "a screamer." Less than ten minutes after the deed was done, I walked out into the sun and felt breeze on my calves. Something I have not felt for months and months and months. Given that I have to be sweating in 80 to 90 degree days, hiking over mountains for months on end, I feel that I have made the right choice for now. 

I will miss my fur. But it's still there. Waiting to grow back. With my genes, I give it 10 days.



7 comments:

  1. Enjoy the breeze on those legs until ... glad to see you are still heading North.

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    1. Hi there Prayer Walker!
      I'm so glad to hear from you!! I still remember the moment when you told me that the AT was finally feeling like home. You are an inspiration, and I'm so happy that you were able to hike as far on the trail as you did. I hope everything works out well with your foot! You are in my thoughts.
      Cheers,
      Clever Girl

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  2. That is the most amazing, awkward, hairy legged picture I have ever seen. The fact you can scream at a snake and keep your mouth closed during a waxing to that extreme shows pure courage in reverse. Glad your still on the trail Spider feeder. Beth and Bern

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    1. Haha thanks you two! Hilarious awkwardness is what I aim for on a daily basis. It really is completely arbitrary what makes me scream and what I can handle with steely calm. As always, I'm glad to hear from you guys! I hope you're having a lovely spring.

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  3. Wicked funny! I picture God saying to you: "OK, you can have brains, beauty, common sense, and empathy. But you get hairy legs and wispy scalp." "Deal!"

    Love you! Hugs and kisses, Mom and Dad

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    1. Speaking of candy floss, I devoured that maple cotton candy in about 30 seconds. DELICIOUS. Grim and Whistle are also over the moon for having more almond cookies. You guys are the best.

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  4. http://www.abcactionnews.com/dpp/news/local_news/water_cooler/hairy-stockings-aim-to-keep-women-safe-from-would-be-attackers

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