I’m not even sure if we’re doing it to appease the patriarchy anymore.

Words by

Bianca O'Neill

In 2015 Rihanna sat front row at Zac Posen with barely discernable ‘hairy legs’, and it was all the websites could talk about. The hairs were light, did she bleach them? Was she just trying to get attention? Was it a fashion statement?

I like to think that Rihanna, being Rihanna, looked down at her hairy legs that night and was all like, well, fuck it. 

Let’s be honest, we’ve all been there. It’s mid-winter and it's an unseasonably warm night, and you’re excited to be wearing a skirt for the first time in months. Until HORROR strikes, you have hairy legs. You know, like nature intended. But zomg a guy might see them and the illusion that we slipped out of our mother’s vagina hairless will be lost!

I’m not even sure if we’re doing it to appease the patriarchy anymore, anyway. Any guy who has comments on excess body hair is exactly the kind of douchebag who deserves a swift dumping. 

So who ARE we doing it for? Women? Fashion? Certainly not ourselves. ‘Myself’ would like those many wasted hours back to read a few more books on my bucket list and organise my wardrobe by colour and season, thanks.

Body shaming has been a huge discussion in fashion in the last decade (resulting in women of all colours, shapes and sizes strutting down runways to rapturous applause) but did ONE of them have hairy legs? 

So, basically, it’s OK to be yourself, as long as ‘yourself’ has makeup applied, blowdried hair and the slick, hair-free texture of a seal. 

What’s not OK, however, is being proud to go au naturel. Last month, a fitness blogger was splashed across every homepage for letting her hair grow out for a year… everywhere. There were words in bold red letters accompanying the pearl-clutching prose, like “shock!” and “no thanks!” 

She released a video speaking of how she had been body-hair-shamed since she was nine years old, and it struck a chord with me.

It’s ridiculous, but one of my most uncomfortable moments at fashion week was when I realised, as I sat down in my seat, that I’d only shaved to my knees - but my skirt snuck above there, upon sitting. Seriously. In the scheme of things I could be embarrassed about at fashion week, this was the worst. Not secretly shoving chicken into my mouth in a parked car as a well-known photographer walked by staring at me. Not that moment I thought the seating guy was inviting me to sit front row, until I got up to realise it was someone else.  Not that time I was changing in my car-drobe and got caught in underwear by some surprise local residents.

It was the hairy legs moment, you guys. Sah very unfashionable.

Sure, the odd celebrity here and there has bravely spoken out about *occasionally* letting the shaving routine slip, or maybe sporting trimmed pubic hair rather than a full Brazillian. Even Grimes, our body hair hero, has started shaving again BECAUSE the body-hair-tribe got angry when she REMOVED her hair.

And I guess that’s the point – why does anyone care what we do with our body hair, shaved or otherwise? 

Chanel and Dior send sleekly de-haired women down the runway, sporting ‘feminism’ protest signs and T-shirts. We protest the body policing of women to reclaim abortion rights, while marching in shiny, shaven legs. Doesn’t that seem strange to you?

Maybe this MBFWA I’ll dare to wear unshaven legs all week. Or maybe I don’t have the balls. 

Which is ironic because apparently, you need them to skip the razor.

Follow Bianca’s confused feminist fashion journey, wearing mainly pants to cover her unkempt legs, at @_thesecondrow.

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