Hairy Leg Superiority

Sometimes I talk to women about why they shave their legs or their pits. They say things to me like, “I tried not shaving, and after two weeks it was driving me crazy. I shave now because -I- like it.”

Which is complete and utter bullshit.

Here’s how I know:

It took me ten years to like my hairy legs.

Ten. Years.

I started out not shaving in the winter because pants, but I still shaved in the summer. Then I stayed hairy in the summer, but still shaved on days I went swimming. Then I stayed hairy all summer, but I shaved for dates and parties. Then I stayed hairy full time, but I disliked the hair the whole time. And then sometime after THAT I finally got used to my hairy legs. Each of these stages took 2-3 years.

Your two weeks are a joke.

How long does it take to unwind the damage the kyriarchy has done to your self-image? How long does it take to throw off the mind control of capitalism?

A lifetime.
Never.
Good luck.

It doesn’t take a sociology mastermind to see that in our culture the women+body hair topic is fucked up beyond belief.

So don’t explain to me that your two week walk on the wild side revealed all the facets of your motivations for shaving. When your “preference” magically aligns with the dominant ideology, it’s fair to be a little suspicious.

In I’m a Terrible Female Consumer I said that I wasn’t a better person for not buying into commercialized beauty crap. I mostly believe that. Everyone has limited energy and has to choose their battles. Oppressive beauty standards might not be your priority. If it’s not your thing, it’s not your thing.

So let’s make a deal. You don’t pretend that a choice about shaving is simple, casual, or freely made by women in our culture. And I’ll try not to act like I’m a better person for having all my body hair. What do you say?

Simplicity Wins

I hate paying bills.

For a long time I hated paying bills because I never had the money to pay them on time. But even after I could afford it I hated it. Bill paying is a certain kind of abstract process that doesn’t sit right in my brain. It’s bureaucratic and the downsides are conceptually disconnected from the upsides.

So one year I just stopped paying my bills. I lived in a regular house, but I did not have electricity or natural gas. I had running water, but it was not hot water.

I used oil lamps for light, a camp stove for cooking, a hand operated washing machine for clothes, a propane heater to heat one single room in the winter, a propane water heater to take quick showers. Buying a can of propane, and then using it, and then buying another has a flow that I can wrap my head around. (Those are affiliate links to the exact products I used – I recommend them all!)

I value simplicity, even if it makes things a little more expensive or a little more inconvenient.

This same balance of values came up for me recently around what to go camping in. I bought a nice, big, comfortable camper and did some really fancy camping in it. It was awesome to be out in the woods while sleeping on a real bed and having a microwave!

But then the camper turned out to have a leak. Complicated-ness came crashing down on me. Fixing the leak would have involved pulling out, replacing, repairing, and whatnot. Preventing future leaks from happening would require yearly maintenance of parts and systems that I don’t really understand. And honestly… the whole camper was a great big ball of stuff I didn’t understand.

So simplicity is winning for me once again. I sold the camper and got a canvas tent instead. (Affiliate link for a similar tent, but not the exact same one.) Yes, it’s more trouble to put up than parking a camper and plugging it in. Yes, it’s not quite as comfortable. But… it’s a big piece of canvas and one pole. I can repair small things that go wrong with it. And even big things that might go wrong won’t be as expensive to fix as a small thing on the camper.

This post was a lot of words to say, “Electricity is magic, and I don’t like it,” but that does kind of sum it up. I have a strong preference for systems that are simple and obvious. My first big camping trip of 2016 is one week out, and I’m about to find out if my new tent is just the right kind of simplicity for me.Canvas Bell Tent

I Don’t Care What You Think About Me

I Don't Care What You Think About Me

The first time I heard this quote from Coco Chanel, it took my breath away. “I don’t care what you think about me. I don’t think about you at all.”

Some people might find this idea cold, heartless, or uncaring. But to a person sometimes crippled by anxiety about what others thought of me, this quote was a breath of fresh air. Reading it made it easier to breathe. Thinking that it was possible to achieve this level of detachment was a ray of hope.

I don't care what you think of me. (1)

“What you think of me is none of my business,” is the title of an old book (aff link) that I know nothing about. The phrase rings true for me because of my decade of internal emotional work with Nonviolent Communication (aff link).

Nonviolent Communciation (NVC) encouraged me take responsibility for my own thoughts and actions and not those of other people. In addition, NVC gave me the tools for actually making that happen. When I start to get caught up in trying to control other people, I have the skills and techniques for getting myself out of that terrible mind trap.

I have come to understand that other people’s feelings belong to them. They are free to have them. It’s not my job to worry about other people’s thoughts and try to manage and mitigate them. Other people’s thoughts and feelings are none of my business.

Somehow over the years and with hard work I’ve managed to… change. Accidentally. I almost didn’t notice.

I was recently involved in a conflict amidst a large friend group. The main conflict didn’t have anything to do with me at all. But if you’ve been in a large social group you know how problems tend to spread. Some things got awkward with some people, and some people cut me off entirely.

The old me would have been freaking out. And I mean losing my little mind! People not speaking to me? People that I don’t know whether they like me or not? The horror! I would have been unable to concentrate during the day, unable to sleep at night. Just a mess.

But… that didn’t happen. I was able to care about the situation and think hard about solutions without being an anxiety ball over what everyone was thinking of me.

What. A. Relief.

I feel so powerful! I used to be very insecure. But between NVC and fat acceptance, I’m just… not. Not anymore. I recommend it!

 

I don't care what you think of me

Missing the Transient Life

For the 2000 census I was living in a hotel. I was seen as homeless and was considered part of an invisible and at-risk population. From my perspective I was living the dream!

My monthly “rent” was not much more than what I could find an apartment for in my area. Yes, the room was smaller than an apartment. But for the same money I got “free” utilities, once a week house cleaning, and no one ran a credit check on me.

And I was always ready to go, able to pick up and leave at a moment’s notice. When I went to a festival I would move out – everything I owned fit in my car – and on Monday I’d move back in, saving myself 3 days rent.

Later in my life, after years of living in “real” houses, I lived in a van for a while. I bought an old passenger van, sold nearly everything I owned and slept stealth parked in apartment complex parking lots. I absolutely loved the inside of that van. I had exactly the stuff I needed and no more.

Even in the years when I wasn’t hotel- or van-living I was a renter, and I tended to move almost every year. It was a nimble lifestyle.

I live in a house that I own now. I’ve been here for almost 7 years. I feel like a freaking hoarder, and I haven’t even begun to fill this place up. It doesn’t have very many closets, which does help!

Dylan and I stayed in a hotel over this weekend during a quick trip down to Atlanta. Every time I stay in a hotel I feel the pull of the transient life. I have two changes of clothes with me, and I start to forget why I would ever own more than that. I look at my one bag, and I can’t figure out what I need a whole house for.

I feel a little constrained sometimes. Weighed down. Obliged. I dream of throwing everything away and going somewhere else in a heartbeat. And somewhere else the heartbeat after that.

But this complaint doesn’t have any depth. I experience incredible benefits because of living at The Wallow. I’ve built a rooted life – gardens, and pets, and hobbies that require a lot of equipment. It’s harder to “just go”, but there’s always this immense comfort to come back to when I do.

But, you know. I’m still going to feel a little wistful when I get that hint of freedom.

My Surface Pro 4 Review

I’ve had my new Surface Pro 4 a couple of weeks now. My old laptop was going on 5 years old, and I was itching for a new one anyway. My top priority was buying something I would love, which is why I picked the Surface. Other than Macs, which I didn’t want to get into, the Surface is the only laptop I hear people swooning about. My other big goal this time around was something portable enough to take with  me basically everywhere.

Not my Surface

Not my Surface

The portability is definitely working out! I have gotten lots of productive writing done while out-and-about with Dylan during the day. I’m working on a new blog – Journaling Out Loud – so being able to work during the day is important. I’m keeping a list of which local parks have nice pavilions for me to hang out in while he plays!

I got the 4G of memory. I was planning to get 8 but at the last minute talked myself out of it. For one thing, my last laptop only had 3, so clearly I don’t need a lot of memory. 4G is going to work just fine for me, especially because of things I don’t understand like “swapping to SSD”.

The size is perfect! It has the portability of a netbook while being full-ish size. I have no trouble with the smaller keyboard, and the screen is big enough for the graphic design that I do. (Nothing fancy!)

I can’t really figure out what to do with the Surface pen. Any ideas?

I use Google Drive and Evernote for all my note-taking, photo archiving, file-saving needs. Should I switch to OneDrive? It’s a free freaking terabyte. What do you think?

I don’t think I’m fully utilizing the tablet aspect. It’s a little big for a tablet, honestly. Any ideas there? The only time I’ve gone to tablet mode is when I’m watching a movie. It’s nice to not have the keyboard in the way for getting a good movie-watching angle. Although, after watching movies on my phone for so long, I don’t know if I love using a 12 incher for that.

Windows 10 is not that weird. I’m coming from 7. People grumbled about new Windows so much I thought it was going to be a real pain to switch to. It’s not. It’s all about the same except for the start menu, which is in improvement.

All in all, it’s going good! Fancy laptop upgrade FTW!

My Pop Music Privilege

I love Top 40 music. If it’s on the radio, I love it. Pop, country, hip hop, classic rock, alternative, adult contemporary, “the 80s, 90s, and now!” Love it all.

I know that this is supposedly dorky and uncool. Saying you like radio music is like saying you like shopping at Walmart, which I also do and which is also uncool in my social groups. What can I say? I’ve got simple tastes.

Here’s a little secret: I am incredibly lucky to like radio music. I consider it a blessing and a privilege. Everywhere I go, the world is playing my music. In my truck, my favorite songs come effortlessly out of the dashboard with no library management from me. Every restaurant is playing my favorite songs. Every time I grocery shop, my personal soundtrack is playing. When I fill up at a gas station with outdoor speakers, the songs are handpicked for me. Any business ever that has the radio going is playing something I like.

I’ve been a Top 40 girl my whole life, starting with music from my parents’ era. The last 55 years of popular music – I know and love it all!

I went to a local fireworks festival last summer and the show was set to current pop hits. I and the entire crowd sang in unison along with the music. There’s nothing dorky or uncool about that! It was incredible! It was fun, and unifying, and electrifying.

Enough babbling. Of the Top 10 songs right now, here are my favorites!

Stressed Out from Twenty One Pilots – It’s got a lighthearted sound, but I love the angsty as fuck lyrics. A sample:

We used to play pretend, give each other different names,
We would build a rocket ship and then we’d fly it far away,
Used to dream of outer space but now they’re laughing at our face,
Saying, “wake up, you need to make money.”

Or try out Roses from The Chainsmokers – I love their name, and this is a cool sound.

And one more – Ex’s and Oh’s from Elle King. I would never want to know this woman in real life, but I love some of the turns of phrase in this song about lovin’ em and leavin’ em.

What do you think? What are you listening to right now?

I’m a Terrible Female Consumer – YAY!

profit1 “Stealing your self-esteem and then selling it back you you.”

I can’t track down the origin of this phrase, but hot damn does it accurately describe a particular evil of our consumer culture!!

Not hating my body is pretty awesome.

For one thing, I’m bad for the economy. (Thank goodness!) I’m specifically a terrible female consumer!

I don’t buy razors, face creams, lotions, makeup, shampoo, antiperspirant, or hair spray. I don’t shave, pluck, straighten, curl, or shape anything. I don’t smooth, conceal, even out, condition, exfoliate, or blend anything.

I buy hardly any menstrual products because I use a reusable cup.

I don’t buy jewelry, dress shoes (or more than one pair of shoes at a time), or dress clothes.

I don’t buy a single weight loss product.

profit3My little anti-capitalist hearts jumps for joy at the sheer amount of dollars I have not spent on this crap.

And it’s definitely crap. My own self-esteem stolen by night and sold back to me advertisement by advertisement. Time, energy, and money, stolen right out from under us.

Once they steal it, you can never get your self-esteem back, even if you pay top dollar for it. The beauty industry and the kyriarchy and civilization whisper to you “your hairy legs are ugly and they make you unloveable”. They steal your confidence and your sense of ownership over yourself. But shaving your legs doesn’t give that back to you. Shaving your legs doesn’t make you confident. It doesn’t prove that you’re the boss of you. You can never buy yourself back to a state where no one ever whispered away your self-esteem in the first place.

profit2Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some better person because I don’t buy all those products. Frankly, it was as much laziness as it was political ideology that got me started chucking that part of our culture in the trash bin.

And I don’t get my confidence back, either. I still get all the messages, and I’m not even trying to succeed at the game. So I’m aware of being a certain kind of failure in our culture, and I can never, ever become unaware of these ways in which I’m failing.

BUT!

I am at least not spending that money!

Glancing around for some quick stats, I came up with women spending an average of $300 a year on makeup alone, and as much as $2000 a year for all general health-and-beauty stuff related to being female and performing femininity.

The bottom line is that we spend A LOT.

We spend the cash.

We spend the time it takes to do all this shaving, slathering, and pruning.

We spend the mental energy monitoring how well we’re living up to expectations.

I started rejecting mainstream culture around age 19. I’m now 39, and I estimate that I spend about $150 a year on appearance maintenance. That means I’ve “saved” as much as $37,000. Wowowow! I win!