There’s been a lot of hubbub about Mo’Nique lately. People are blown away by her gritty performance as the abusive, pretty-much-evil mother in Precious. Then people were aghast because she wasn’t interested in trolling the press junkets and awards show circuit, pandering for praise. Sunday night Mo’Nique won the Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe for her work in Precious, and she started a new controversy. Are you ready for this? Mo’Nique doesn’t shave her legs.
In an interview with Barbara Walters in 2006, Mo’Nique said, “I must show America what a real leg looks like . . . because it’s too much in the morning, every morning, to shave, to cut, you got Band-aids baby,” she said. “I really think hair on a woman’s legs is a black woman’s thing.”
Still, after she showed off her gams on the red carpet, people were aghast. Why is it that hairy legs are some sort of symbol of women’s hygiene? Why are we so attached to the smooth skin we had before puberty?
My personal experience with shaving my legs is bumpy. (Sorry.) I don’t have a lot of leg hair, it grows slowly, and it’s patchy. There are huge stretches on my legs where no hair grows at all. Some of the hair is white blonde, some of it is light brown, and inexplicably, some is inky black. My leg hair is as diverse as any UN committee, and probably accomplishes just as much. Still, I feel pretty gross when I go too long without shaving. Maybe if it were consistent in color or texture it wouldn’t feel so odd. Or maybe if I hadn’t grown up with the refrain of “who wears short shorts?” (ahem, certainly not moi) ringing in my ears, I wouldn’t feel it necessary to keep my legs shorn even though very few people ever see them.
So what is it about shaving our legs? Why do we do it? And to the women reading this, do you wince when you see a woman with hairy legs? Do you think she’s dirty or unkept or a radical feminist? Is it a political statement or a sign of laziness? Men, do you just prefer a smooth leg because it’s different from your own? Are we keeping a multi-million dollar industry in business due to some misplaced belief that we’re not attractive unless our legs are bare? Just curious.