I only saw one post here that mentioned the word vanity, although many tiptoed around it. I think, in general, tri-athletes are pretty haughty. However, I don't see a major problem with that because it is almost impossible to avoid. Just like professional bodybuilders, gymnasts, track stars, etc. we train very hard to do what we do and one of the greatest perks is the physique that comes naturally out of our training. So yes, naturally you are going to want to look in the mirror to see your progress, just as you look at your stopwatch after each event. That vanity heightens over to accepting endless compliments from your fellow friends and on lookers. Again, it is all OK just as long as you continue to treat others, as you want to be treated.
Now on the topic of shaving your legs...I believe that the only benefit to doing this would be to heal wounds faster. All other reasons are excuses to massage egos. I have read it only makes you 1 second faster in the swim, good massage therapists use oils so the hair does not hurt when pulled and females opinions are about 50/50 on the topic (some women just don't like a guy who has less body hair than her). You now know where I stand, but what is that I do? Right now I shave my upper arms, the 6 hairs or so on my back and trim up my man parts (for the wife). But, as the season is starting here I will be tearing down (that is what we called it when I was strictly a weightlifter) my legs, arms and chest. And yes, 90% of the reason for doing this is vanity!
Josh - One arrogant S.O.B.
"When in Rome, ...." In my early cycling days, I started to feel like the only hairy ogre out there, so I started shaving my legs. Wow!! I didn't realize how awesome my legs looked when they were covered by a forest of hair. The benefits are numberous, but vanity is in fact the prime one. Soon my bushy arms just seemed out of place, so I took to the razor, and Wow!! they looked just as fabulous as my clean shaven legs. Later while moving on to triathlon, standing on the edge of a pool while training, my back sure felt out of place, so.... I did as the Romans do. In short, when you immerse yourself into a particular culture, you soon began adopting the same behaviors as the group you belong to. From outside looking in, it's very difficult to understand. Ten years ago, entertaining the thought of conversing within a group of highly masculine guys discussing methods of hair removal would've seemed absurd, but that's what happens.
I agree that leg shaving is mostly about vanity and group behaviours. In addtion, it's a wink , a nod of the head or a tip of the hat to other triathletes. It shows that you're serious enough about the sport to do something you've never imagined before. Standing around at transition, or walking into the bike shop, you feel that you fit in.