Frequently Asked Questions: Shaving

While “foreigners” make up about 1% of the population in Shanghai — which is a huge concentration by China standards — we are still extremely rare in most of China. This leads to a great amount of curiosity about our lives. Since there are very few foreigners in my neighborhood, and even fewer foreigners who can speak Chinese fluently, I have begun to encounter what I call “frequently asked questions.” These are questions I have been asked within five minutes of meeting new people in my neighborhood. Enjoy.

Today’s FAQ is “why do you shave your legs?”

Every time I get a massage, this is one of the first questions that comes up. Chinese women tend to have much less leg hair than us Western gals, and they don’t tend to shave it. So when the massage girls start in on my legs, they usually let out a yelp of surprise, run their hands repeatedly up and down my leg, and then they ask what happened to all my leg hair.

I’m not going to get into feminist politics right now, and I don’t usually get into it with them either. All I can say is, it just looks better to us. They usually think I’m sort of strange. Isn’t cultural exchange fun?