Feminism, Thrifty

Retro Razors – on shaving, not shaving and thrifty beauty

14 August, 2012

Let’s talk about hair. Hairy coarse hair on women; on legs, pits and bits. I veer from being COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY AND ANGRILY ANTI shaving – why in the world would we do it? It was an invention by those hoodwinking Madmen who wanted to create a new market for razors!!! To feeling like I would quite like a frivolous smooth finish on my pins once in a while, and not have people stare at my bushy arm pits.

Not shaving

You know, I didn’t even shave for my wedding. And Tim has told me that it doesn’t interrupt his idea of sexiness. When I see other women avec hair, I love them, I respect their courage and their bold gesture towards oppressive ideals of beauty.  I want to be part of this brave mob challenging these norms. I want Ramona to know that beauty isn’t about tweaking and pulling and stripping and squeezing into some tiny grotesque mould a group of strangers built.  So. For years and years I have tried not to shave. I do say try because it is REALLY HARD to do something that literally makes people STARE AT YOU every day. Sometimes I just wish all women could do this in solidarity, so no one got stared at! (For a great insight on what it is like being hairy read this Guardian piece.)

As a result sometimes I don’t want to be hairy. I want to wear a short skirt and look at my legs and think nothing, and not have other people eye-grazing them. (Although the hair does cover up the bruises I have routinely because I am the clumsiest person in the whole world.) Sometimes I do want to attempt the appearance of traditional prettiness. There. I confessed. It is hard to completely overthrow that feeling.  Genuine question- have any of you managed to get totally get rid of that niggling, deep idea that you should look a certain way?

Shaving

So, let’s talk about getting rid of it. Once, some friends waxed my legs. IT KILLED ME! It was honestly about 50 brazillion times more painful than my tatoos! Perhaps it was to do with what I was prepared to cope with in the name of beauty = not much. I don’t even pluck my eye brows.  So, if I am feeling a smooth day coming on, or if I fancy going without deodrant (well, bicarb) for a while and require bare pits to get away with it,  I am totally indebted to my trusty double edged retro razor.

Thrifty beauty

And right there lies a beauty tip that will save you proper dosh and will give you the best shave EVER. An old double edged razor. It looks beautiful, has already last a life time and will last two more, costs around 5 p for a blade that will last for 5 shaves and hacks off ANY amount of hair.  It may seem weird for me to be like “Oh, shaving sucks BUT HERE do it with this!” – it is just I think it is so unlikely that womankind will cast off shaving, it make sense to promote the eco, thrifty option. The one that doesn’t pour money into the pockets of rich corporations.

My friend Dan Fone took this snap of some of my dad’s stuff www.hammerheadrabbits.com

Get started

Because they have become such a collectible they aren’t incredibly easy to come across; you will have to keep your eyes peeled. Antique shops and car boots are the best place. You want to find a Gillete – any era will d0 – chose the style you fancy in good condition. Little rust, no cracks. Then get a packet of blades from Boots and away you go.

My dad first got us into all of this. At first I kind of thought he was a tiny weeny bit mad but he has slowly convinced us all. It is truly the greenest and thriftiest way to get rid of hair, and also really celebrates the beautiful design of the last century’s different eras. My dad has a small collection now, each one sitting perfectly in it’s time, with a story behind it.

Technique

The technique is different, a different angle (a right angle) and use short strokes, washing off the hair inbetween. I use conditioner in replace of shaving foam. Take it real slow the first few times, until you pick it up. Rinse and dry the razor once finished. This site has some bits and bobs on it and quite a bit more info.
So. Are you a feminist shaver? A razor boycotter? A smooth waxer? Let’s hear it! 😀  Think you might get into this retro razor shenanigans?

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19 Comments

  • Reply jennastobbs 14 August, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    Unfortunately I could never be a razor boycotter. I hate the feeling when my legs rub together in bed and they’re all stubbly….yuck!

    I do however, agree that we shouldn’t be made to feel we need to look a certain way. It took me years to realise that magazine models weren’t born with perfectly smooth pins and had to shave and wax like the rest of us. Nowadays I tend to not even look at fashion mags as you never now what’s been air-brushed or not.

    • Reply lulastic 14 August, 2012 at 5:28 pm

      Yeah but after a while they aren’t stubbly but like a warm down covering hahaha
      I hear you though it’s hard. You need one of these. x

  • Reply Janey 14 August, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    I read another blog post about this recently, and I do think it’s a really interesting subject. I do shave, and sadly I think I probably do it for societal reasons as much as anything. Although, as far as underarm hair goes, it’s a hygiene thing too; for me personally, I feel cleaner when I am newly shaved underarm. As far as legs go, I let my hair grow and grow, because I simply can’t be arsed with shaving it! The problem then is that it is such a mission to do it when I decide it does need doing, and this is when the whole social pressure comes in, because if I know my legs are going to be out, I absolutely have to have smooth legs.

    I hate it though; when I go swimming I spend hours removing as much hair from my body as possible, and all the while I am thinking, “Gah! Men don’t have this problem! If they want to go swimming, they simply put on a pair of trunks, and go swimming!”

    • Reply lulastic 14 August, 2012 at 5:31 pm

      Yes! I am SURE men wouldn’t shave their bodies under the same pressure. BAH!
      Honestly these razors cut though the hairiest jungles in the world. My leg hair after three years of no shaving!

      • Reply Janey 14 August, 2012 at 5:39 pm

        Wow – maybe I should consider one, I’m sure it would do a better job than my Tesco men’s disposable jobbie!

  • Reply Lady Demelza 14 August, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    Another fabulous post.
    I started shaving at 15 – and stopped shaving at 15. My body is all natural in that regard – but I just happen to have very fine, light body hair, and I don’t get the kind of attention that others might.
    My friend is raising her 9-y-o daughter among alternative communities with lots of hairy women. I love how she sees it as normal. One time, when we hadn’t seen each other for a while, she suddenly started in shock – oh my god! Demelza, did you shave your legs? I had to show her a close up to prove that I hadn’t shaved – it’s just that my hairs are nearly invisible in the right light. She was much reassured. God love her.
    Even so, I know there are times when one doesn’t feel up to the challenge of personally confronting long-entrenched societal norms. I did get into waxing a bit when I had a job that meant I was around a lot of people who might feel strongly about social norms. This is a great, well-balanced piece of writing on the subject.

    • Reply lulastic 15 August, 2012 at 1:22 pm

      Thanks Lady Dem!
      And you with your fair hair are the envy of ALL of womankind, eh?! (Although it would be hard to count you among the mob of brace and wild women challenging norms, as you do it too subtly!Hehe)
      Your friend’s community sounds incredible! I think we need to find something like that 😀

  • Reply JenFlan 15 August, 2012 at 8:47 am

    I have the same dilemma and yo-yo between hairiness and submission to the hairless ideals of femininity upheld by our culture. Germaine Greer set up that conflict for me about 13 years ago. Nightmare. Being part of a theatre company with a glam image makes it more challenging – but I am the only one who opted for TROUSERS in my costume. Ha! More and more I just forget to shave nowadays, so it’s only half way through a swim I think, oh…. my legs are hairy. Laziness is a huge advantage when you’re trying to live an alternative image of femininity. The thing that is especially mad and weird about it, is that this image of hairlessness is the image of a pre-pubescent child, and how screwed up is that as a sexual ideal??

    • Reply lulastic 15 August, 2012 at 1:26 pm

      Ah yes, laziness- the ally of feminists everywhere! It is probably the dominant factor for why I am able to so often think MEH when it comes to “beauty”

      Yes, yes, yes about about the child like nature of hairlessness. It is completely and UTTERLY screwed up. Pre-hairlessness to compare the bodies of that of a woman and a child would have yielded and incredibly low amount of similarities. Now I fear they are moving closer and closer. It is really, really scary. 🙁

  • Reply Caitrin 15 August, 2012 at 9:02 am

    I epilate. It started off as painful but I can do it now and it barely makes me flinch. I love it because my epilator will last for an age, I got it from a voucher bought for us from our wedding (so none of mmy money spent) and the hair stays away on my pits for two weeks and on my legs for a month. Somewhat eco… I just can’t bring myself to be hairy. I like the look of hairless legs and pits and the feeling of it too. Good on ya Lucy, always pushing the boundaries of “the norm”.

    • Reply lulastic 15 August, 2012 at 1:27 pm

      Ooh yeah eplilating = PAIN!!!!!!!!!!!! However, I think it really does reduce the amount of hair you actually get out of your pores. And there is something wonderfully reusable about it.
      x

  • Reply Liz Burton 16 August, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    Must show you my bits sometimes. You would love me even more. *cough*

    Can you do braiding? ;0)

    • Reply lulastic 16 August, 2012 at 9:28 pm

      Harrrhahaaahaa. You know those wraps, you get them done in markets on the continent, with the stripey threads of cotton??? #intimateHippyBuisnessIdea

      • Reply Liz Burton 16 August, 2012 at 9:36 pm

        I keep telling ya – Go see Lord Sugar. Or Dragon’s Den. I’d pay money to see you pitch that one.

        • Reply lulastic 18 August, 2012 at 9:54 pm

          Hehehehehe, I’ma gawn do it

  • Reply dillytante 16 August, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    V interesting blog. I recently gave up shaving my armpits as I realised I ONLY do to follow social norms. Legs, well, I like the smooth feel, though I am still v haphazard with keeping it up. But my pits? That was just for the world. So I just stopped about 6 months ago.

    Fortunately, our dismal summer has meant my strength of conviction has not been greatly tested. DH thinks it is great, so no worries there. I will admit though to having a wobble when it got really long and it was vest weather. I used my bikini trimmer (I know, I know…) to trim it down. But I’m damned if I’m going to remove it completely. I like it, I find it really tactile. Dh often finds me absent mindedly twirling it between my fingers 🙂

    I’ve not noticed any adverse reaction yet. I did tell my closest friends about my epiphany with a look daring them to comment! No one has. I can’t deny though, that it is hard not to worry what others think. I think I don’t mind so much when people know I’m making a political statement rather than just being a slattern.

    I did almost write a blog post about it two but refrained for two reasons. Firstly, my dad and colleagues read my blog and I didn’t want to be getting too personal. Secondly I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it because the whole point is it shouldn’t be a big deal, it should just be normal. The reality is though, it IS a big deal for me to go against 20 years of conditioning.

    Good on you and this is yet another post to make me love your blog more!

    • Reply lulastic 18 August, 2012 at 9:54 pm

      LOVE THIS COMMENT! YAY! I am the same, I think. I do like the feel of smooth legs, but like the statement of hairy bits hoorah!

  • Reply Libs 7 May, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Whoop! I’ve been looking for someone talking about us ladies using retro DE razors for years. I’ve been struggling with my thick black hair since I was 11! (that makes me so sad because I would never want any of my nieces or daughters to be under that kind of pressure at any age let alone so young but I felt it was normal at the time) 99% of my reasons for shaving are because I’m too embarrassed not to and 1% because I like feeling smooth – but I think even that 1% is because I’ve been socialised to feel that smooth = beautiful. grrrrrrrrrr f**k the patriarchy

    In the last few years I’ve been rocking the zero waste challenge and suddenly razors and aerosol foam cans seemed like a totally selfish and unacceptable thing to be tossing into landfill. Last year my Dad gave me my Grandad’s (or possibly my Great granddad’s) razor which I now use with a second hand brush and posh solid shaving soap. Posh but cheap cheap cheap because it was unpackaged – gotta love it when zero waste and thrift team up!

    Thank you! Great to know I’m not the only hairy lady in South East London who only occasionally attacks the growth with a vintage implement

  • Reply Vicky 12 September, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    I admit I happily shave my legs and armpits but it’s because I want to not because my partner wants it or society insists it’s beautiful but because I just personally prefere it but I do draw the line at shaving or waxing my nether regions why anyone would want to put themselves through the pain is beyond me

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