You may have seen my face on the Yahoo homepage. You may have even seen it next to Donald Trump's face and other photographs accompanying serious news, above the headline "Woman Quit Shaving Legs." My leg hair made the news.
Or, at least, a piece I wrote for Yahoo Beauty on my decision not to shave my legs made the news. In it, I described shaving in my early teens because that was what everyone did, coming to the realization that I didn't have to, and being surprised when nobody objected.
I'm flattered, Yahoo, but I just don't know if "Woman Quit Shaving Legs" is a headline up there with "Details of Donald Trump's Wealth Released."
After the piece went viral, I encountered some odd characters online. I received tweets ranging from "I admire you for being yourself" to "Good luck with the leg hair, Chewbacca."
Some responses to my article were perfectly lovely.
Others took issue with my decision not to shave.
And others — exclusively men — were mad that I shaved at one point, one even pulling a "not all men."
There was also plenty of hate mail.
And fan mail, if "fan" is the right term for someone who emails you three times to inquire about your pubic hair.
Then there was this invitation:
A "fun debate." What could possibly go wrong?
I told SiriusXM's Covino and Rich Show to email me for more information. Over email, a producer explained that it was a "guy talk show," so I had a hunch it wasn't exactly a feminist forum.
I prepared accordingly, rehearsing lines to defend my position. I considered pulling an Amy Schumer and telling them something like "I can catch a dick whenever I want" but pictured my family listening in and decided on "I have no trouble attracting men." I'd tell them off, and I'd have fun with it. I was ready.
But it turned out I wasn't quite prepared for how much mockery I would encounter. The two men sounded similar, so I'm not sure who said what, and I don't have a recording, but this is what happened to the best of my memory.
When I called in to their LA studio from my Brooklyn apartment, one host announced that the woman on the line did not shave her legs.
"Eww!" the other one yelled. "Ugh!" The thought alone was too much for him to bear.
After regaining the ability to form coherent thoughts, one of them asked me what it was like to repulse the opposite sex. I pulled out the line I rehearsed, which they met with skepticism.
One of the main points of my article was that no love interest of mine has ever even brought up my body hair, but I guess that part seemed too impossible for them to even process.
"Do people point and laugh? You don't wear shorts, do you?"
"Of course. Why wouldn't I?" I heard another round of revolted noises. I was seriously concerned someone would vomit right there in the studio.
"Why would you do that? You have some a pretty face. It's such a shame you won't just shave your legs."
See how my legs just overpower all my less revolting features?
It's not as if they'd ever have to date me or even look at me. The mere fact that I was out there was too much for them to handle. They found it offensive that some woman they will probably never meet would dare be anything less than aesthetically pleasing to them.
I couldn't care less that they disapproved of my appearance (and maintain that if one of them saw me in a bar, they'd probably come buy me a drink and not even notice my supposedly hideous legs), but what does bother me is the underlying assumption that it's wrong for a woman not to look the way some men want her to — because ultimately, this assumption stems from the belief that women exist for men's pleasure.
Though most guys aren't picky about leg hair in my experience, my decision to defy what they supposedly want was an affront to patriarchy. A woman who is happy without male approval makes members of our culture deeply uncomfortable.
Not that Covino and Rich were thinking "We must uphold patriarchal values." They were simply putting on a show with a male target audience that only includes women as objects.
Unwilling to be a sexual object, I became an object of ridicule. I was proud to play that role, to oppose these chauvinists rather than be what they thought a woman should be.
So, when the hosts attempted to establish some common ground with me, I refused to make nice.
"If you get away with this, you must just not be very hairy."
"I suppose I'm not."
"Are you afraid that women with more body hair than you might be influenced by the article?" They thought that maybe I had some sense left in me. How wrong they were.
"They could have beards for all I care."
Based on the shrieks I heard in response, I just hope there was a medical professional at the show's headquarters to get their hearts beating again.
It's fun being the laughing stock of Neanderthals. If only they realized the joke was on them.