*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.
Up until three months ago, I shaved my legs twice a week. On Wednesday and Saturday mornings, after running the business end of a razor blade over some of the most sensitive skin on my body, the bottom of my shower always looked like an abattoir.
It didn't matter what brand of shavers I used or whether companies marketed them to men or women, both, or neither. It didn't matter whether I used shaving cream, shaving foam, coconut oil, shea butter, or soap. The results were the same: legs that were still stubbly, only now also bleeding profusely.
Cuts, scrapes, and the occasional missing chunk of skin led to scabs. Scabs led to scars. Shaving my legs was the bane of my existence. So I tried alternatives.
Waxing wasn't for me. Using wax strips was ineffective. Hot wax melted in the microwave at home was either too painful to remove or burned my skin. Getting waxed at the salon left me with blisters one too many times before I decided never to return.
Chemical depilatories gave me chemical burns. Using an epilator was so painful that I couldn't cover more than a few square inches before quitting, tears streaming down my face.
Laser hair reduction, which I used with great satisfaction on my face years ago, simply wasn't an option financially. I was also afraid of the pain.
Finally, I decided to just give up shaving my legs. Maybe not forever. Then again, maybe so.
My main goal in taking a hiatus from shaving was to allow my skin to heal. To my surprise, not only did the scabs disappear and the scars begin to fade, but the ingrown hairs and even my "chub rub" improved dramatically. It was almost as if my legs didn't want to be shaved.
I admit the hair on my legs went through an awkward phase. The stubble reached a point where the itching became unbearable. It was also distracting. I couldn't sleep bare-legged for two weeks because the growing hairs stuck in the fibers of my sheets, and it felt... weird.
Now, three months later, the hair on my legs has grown out completely. My leg hair is naturally dark, thick, and springy, but it's not as dark, thick, and springy as I remembered it. It's not as dark, thick, and springy as I feared.
My inner thigh acne has cleared up. The dry skin that plagued my shins for decades is also gone. Everything unsightly and problematic about the skin on my legs from ankles to hips is gone. The only thing that remains is smooth, healthy skin and the natural hair that most societal beauty standards would have me believe shouldn't be there.
Well, it's there, and it's spectacular.
I may never go back to shaving again. I certainly don't want to, but summer is coming, and I don't know if I have the guts to show up at the pool sprouting a full carpet of leg hair. I'm still weighing the pros and cons of making my hiatus from shaving a permanent break, but if I do, I'll be letting my armpit hair grow wild, too.
And I'll let you in on a secret: I'm already looking forward to it.