Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Right to Bare (Hairy) Arms with Kimberly

 Hi there! I'm Kimberly and I live in the Midwest with my husband and our cat and I blog about mail, cocktails, crafting and housewife (mis)adventures at kimberlyah.com. Thanks to Holly for letting me visit!

Back when I worked full-time, I was the director of an after school learning center. Our center was a training facility, which meant that every year, hundreds of potential new directors came to my center to see the students and me in action. It was a little nerve-wracking at times. Those of you who work with kids (or live with kids) know that on a given day, anything can happen, especially when an audience is watching. I had a few students with special needs. Kaled was one of those students. He was on the autism spectrum and was usually pretty quiet, but often distracted. When he got distracted, I would walk by and gently place my finger on the next problem and he would (usually) stop zoning out and start working again.

On this particular day, Kaled was distracted by the trainees, so I stopped by his desk and pointed to the next math problem. He looked down, started to move his pencil and then, his pencil stopped. He placed his hand on my arm. And, in a quiet room filled with students and twenty extra pairs of eyes and ears, Kaled's sweet (but oh so loud) voice asked me, "Why are your ARMS so hairy?" Time passed too quickly for me to come up with a witty, parent-approved reaction, so I just said, "I don't know, Kaled, I guess it was just the way I was made." I smiled at him, chuckled with my audience and moved on—as bright as a maraschino cherry.

It was really only a matter of time before some sweet, curious child noticed my hairy arms...I'd noticed them. And I'd compared them to other women's arms. And I'd compared them to men's arms...I'd even compared them to my cat's arms! Until I was in my late twenties, it didn't occur to me that other hairy women wax, shave, trim or chemically remove their arm hair. I'd always just thought I was the hairiest woman on the planet. So Kaled's comment prompted me to go home and Google five hundred ways to remove arm hair. But then, I couldn't remove the hair right away. My whole staff would think I did it just because of Kaled's comments.

So I left it. For two years. (I'm a bit of a procrastinator.)

Randomly, I saw the Smooth Away at Walgreens. Hopeful, I bought it. It was basically sandpaper stuck to a pink handle that you use to scrub the hair off (all while exfoliating your dead skin cells, it claimed.) After a long while, lots of sanding and a little bit of pain, the hair was gone! My arms were soft and smooth! They looked weirdly bare and very naked!

What had I done?

Of course, once the shock of the bare arm wore off, I was loving my smooth, hair-free arms. I felt more feminine and happy to wear short sleeves without feeling self-conscious. But the hair grew back. And it was stubbly and kind of itchy. And I didn't want to keep using the sandpaper every week.

Hair growth is a losing battle, and I don't have the energy to fight the good fight. I am horrible at upkeep. And, I would rather paint my nails or read a book instead of being stuck in my bathroom sandpapering my arms. So I've given up. And, while I haven't embraced the hairiness, I've accepted it. If Bigfoot ever attacks Chicagoland, maybe he'll see me as a kindred spirit.

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