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Be Polite, Don’t Return The Rudeness

Judith Martin United Features Sy

Dear Miss Manners: I am a woman with very hairy legs, and I am very proud of it. My concern is that I get such looks of disgust from other women when they see my legs. I have had this concern for at least 30 years.

I would like to know, why do women shave their legs, and how and where did this silly convention start? Women have hair on other parts of the body (face, arms) that they do not shave. Why don’t they shave these parts?

Recently, I read that electrolysis was “a professional answer to your personal problem” because our self-esteem and self-image are greatly affected by our appearance, and removing unwanted facial and body hair can be an important aspect of feeling well-groomed.

How could something that God places on your body be a personal problem? This is how we were made. Why can’t we be thankful for the way we are? We seem to be always trying to change what God gave us.

Shaving the hair on your legs causes continuous problems because the hair returns only to cause scars and bumps. Some of these shaven, scared, bumping, varicose-vein legs should not be seen in shorts. Wouldn’t you think that if something keeps returning, it should be left alone?

I would also like to say my husband loves the hair on my legs; he considers it very sexy.

But I do not know how to address these women who constantly stare at my hairy legs. I have been ignoring these women for years, and I will continue to ignore them. I am a very professional woman and very well-groomed, and I feel I have just as much right to wear short pants (without shaving) as everyone else.

Gentle Reader: You seem to be telling Miss Manners that you have hairy legs. You seem to be making quite a point of it.

Miss Manners mentions this because making a point of it is what you justly condemn in others. People who stare at you are rude and Miss Manners urges you to continue to do the polite thing, which is to ignore them and not be tempted to be rude back.

As you say, this is a cultural matter - and culture, being a matter of arbitrary custom, is always silly to those who examine it for practicality. But as you are not flouting any major conventions of the society in which you live, this matter is solely your business and, since you care to make it so, that of your husband.

But Miss Manners doesn’t find your attack on the custom of shaving reasonable either. You probably cut your hair and maybe even your nails. You don’t mention condemning any of the numerous other things that might be included under your good grooming and counted as attempting to improve on the appearance God gave you. And in a more serious matter, you might want to deal with a growth that keeps returning if it were malignant.

What Miss Manners finds offensive is your unfortunate remark that those who have various marks on their legs “should not be seen in shorts.” This suggests that you have yourself been staring and criticizing in the very manner of which you complain.

Dear Miss Manners: Hi. I’m 8 years old. I’ve been wondering about this: Sometimes I burp silently. When it happens, I’m not sure if someone has heard me or not. If I say excuse me it might call someone’s attention to the fact that I burped. If I don’t say excuse me, someone might have heard me burp and may think I’m rude.

What should I do when this happens?

Gentle Reader: Have a glass of water.

Actually, Miss Manners would rather take you out for an ice-cream cone because your thoughtfulness shows you to be both polite and interesting.

But you needn’t worry about the silent burping. If you aren’t sure you were heard, nobody else can be either.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Judith Martin United Features Syndicate

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