A female reader writes:
This thread has been fascinating to read. My perspective: When I was in Basic Training, I didn’t have time to shave. I was 18 when I went in, and I got to spend nine weeks growing out the hair on my legs. BDUs are pants, of course, but our Physical Training (PT) uniforms were shorts for the first few weeks while it was still warm outside. While the men had to shave their faces every day, less suffer the consequences (having to dry-shave with a pink disposable razor in front of the battalion), women didn’t have that requirement and none of us had the time.
The day before graduation, we were released to spend with our families. I went back to the hotel room of my best friends, who had come to see me graduate, and immediately stole a friend’s razor to shave my legs.
There’s photographic evidence of this, which I will decline to share, but it’s humorous. For me, shaving that day was something I could do for myself, that military could not regulate (the only regulation on women’s hair in this regard at the time was that we could not have visible facial hair) and that I could take my time to do. I wasn’t hurried, there weren’t 59 other women trying to use the shower … I sat in the tub and shaved my legs. It was glorious.
I have never liked the feel of my legs rubbing together when they are unshaven. I spent a month in the field on a training exercise in Korea and could not shave. In the field it didn’t matter; we lived in pants and I never could feel it. But the moment we returned to the barracks, I shaved. I couldn’t sleep until I did because it was bothering me so much. I just don’t like the feel of my legs when they’re hairy. (Funny side note: during field training in areas where there are a lot of ticks or other bugs in high grass, soldiers of both genders were encouraged to shave to reduce the chance of bites, infection, and bringing something home with you.)
Also, your reader who commented on the practical reasons for shaving, including all of our messy femaleness, is dead on. Hairy areas gather sweat and other fluids. It smells, things get matted … unpleasant all around.