Not even joking: When I leave my legs unshaven I have dreams about the fact that my legs are unshaven in contexts where it is embarrassing or even horrifying. What the hell is going on in my psyche? Let’s see if we can get to the bottom of it, or at least unpack it a bit. (If you’re still with me after the headline and opening pic, the rest should be cake!)
In real life, if I haven’t shaved and I suddenly need to go somewhere I’ll give myself a quick shave in the bathroom sink, or if the weather’s cool, throw on a pair of black tights. Fixed! In dreamlife I don’t have the luxury of preparing for a situation–I just AM. In my very favorite of these dreams (I’ll let you decide whether this qualifies as a nightmare) I’m sitting in a posh bar in a hotel during the Oscars. It’s like at a convention, where everyone is there for the event, but you hang out in the hotel bar and BS when there’s nothing better to do. In my circles, we call it BarCon, and it’s a treasured part of any convention experience. So, here I am at BarCon surrounded by dark wood and fancy dress, sitting next to Julia Roberts who is speaking earnestly to me about I truly wish I could remember what, and I look down at myself, and I’m sitting there in a tank-top and ratty shorts and my legs are bare and So. Hairy. I mean, not impossibly hairy, but what they look like when I go a good, long time between shaves. And I’m just…mortified.
(The better Oscars dream was the one where I found myself in my hotel room with no idea how I’d come to be there, and called my mom to tell her “I’m at the Oscars!” Then I walked out into the hallway wrapped in my maroon hotel towel and ran into Sarah Jessica Parker who was also wrapped in her towel and we joked that it was embarrassing that we were wearing the same dress. Later I ran into Jennifer Jason Leigh, but she was in character for Dorothy Parker and couldn’t be arsed.)
Anyway, I had another unshaven legs dream not long after I quit my last job. In it, I was at work in a baggy t-shirt, shorts, and unshaven legs. (At this point I’ll note that I work at home and while I often wear pajamas or other loose, comfortable clothing at home, I really don’t wear shorts.) I was talking to one of our VPs and he didn’t seem to notice anything, but I felt so gross.
When I think about my life during the times I had these dreams, there are some similarities. I was without a full-time job, spending a lot of time at home, and not always bothering to get dressed or shave my legs or even shower some days. Was I missing the act of making myself presentable for the world? Did I feel guilty about not keeping myself “well-groomed”? Is this reaction something that is built-in or did media and culture rewire my circuitry?
There was a time as a young woman when I would never go out with bare legs–it was nylons or tights or nothing. I was ashamed of my fat, ugly legs and I wanted to hide them. I never, EVER, wore shorts (like even less often than I do now, which is almost never) because of that shame. When I was a little girl with scabby knees a teenager remarked within my hearing how remarkable it was that our legs were so ugly as children and got “nice” or something when we got older. I was pretty fucking hurt at the time and obviously I never forgot it, but I assumed that when I grew up I’d have pretty legs like the ladies on tv. But mine were fat and dimpled and spotty and just not. At some point I matured enough that it was ok to let people see my legs as long as they were clean-shaven from top to bottom. Nowadays if the weather’s warm I check and if it’s under a quarter inch, I’m good to go. But then, I’m nearly 48 and I’ve come to a point where I accept the hand I’ve been dealt in a way that never seemed possible before. I credit a lot of that to age and wisdom, but a good deal also to the love of a partner who sees *me* when he looks in my direction.
And something else has changed. Very recently, I had an unshaven legs dream, but in it I was still in the house, though dressed up and ready to go out. I remembered that my legs were unshaven and looked down and the hair was long enough to be visible. I was perturbed because I’d have to do something about it. That was it. That was all.
Maybe after nearly 50 years I’m finally growing up. At this point, I won’t fight it. Much.
October 18, 2012 | Categories: Fun, Humor, Life, Personal, Women | Tags: beauty, Dorothy Parker, dreams, feminism, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Julia Roberts, ocscars, Sarah Jessica Parker, Shaving, Social Sciences, women | 15 Comments