Hands up who hasn’t shaved in a while? Oh wait no put your hands down – all the way down, and keep them there because someone just saw the state of your wayward underarm-stubble and now they’re choking on their sandwich.
I don’t know about anybody else in the world but when I shave my underarms, or any other part of my long-suffering body for that matter I almost always come out in the most unholy shaving rash. No matter how many aloe-vera magic strips venus load onto their tarted up bic-razors, my delegated shaven area never quite resembles the fine silk finish that is presented in magazines/television/movies/basically everywhere I look, all of the time.
The portrayal of women as hairless, aerodynamic seals (but with significantly less blubber) by mainstream media is undoubtedly a direct trickle-down from pornography. Now I am not of the school of thought that calls for an outright damnation of pornography, I believe that in it’s broadest sense it has a deserved place in society and if executed correctly has the ability to both educate and titillate – but that’s an argument for another time. What I’m talking about here are the effects of the kind of pornography that one might find if they were to type ‘porno’ into Google, minimum effort, bog standard and distinctly un-feminist.
The balding genital’s that initially diverted us from our full-bushed godmothers were made as such in order for the consumer to get a better view, presumably because they didn’t harbor enough imagination to gaze beyond the ‘pubic curtain’. As advertising has become more openly and aggressively sexualised, particularly in its representations of women and the female form, the aesthetical expectations for women have become more and more extreme, costly and both psychologically and physically damaging.
In modern society, complete hairlessness (with the exception finely preened eyebrows and a glossy ponytail) is commonplace, a widely accepted cultural norm. Somewhere along the way, women have lost ownership of this particular area of their bodies and I think now is a perfect time to gain it back.
I am aware that in the depths of online counterculture the revolution is already rumbling away. I don’t have to scroll too far down my Tumblr dashboard to find encouragement that I am not alone in my moderately hairy dimension. My main concern with the fem-blogging revolution is that it is so absorbed into it’s subcultural universe that it (quite justifiably) doesn’t want to represent the norm. I am suggesting that we take aspects of these radical feminist movements and try, subtly but surely to appropriate them into everyday life.
The lack of diversity we are offered by way of female bodies across the media perpetuates the social control that is being exercised over our own bodies. Just imagine how great it would be if some of our more mainstream pop-culture icons weren’t too afraid or ashamed to show a bit of leg fuzz or more than a few hours worth of underarm regrowth.
Personally I don’t find body hair offensive. I even think that a slick of underarm hair is kind of sexy and suggests more of a strong feminine vibe than a body waxed clean and buffed to a high-shine by societal pressure. The thing I would like to see change are peoples attitudes towards body hair, and by people I mean women judging other women. Just because I (or anyone else) sometimes choose not to clean shave my armpits (or any other body part) it doesn’t make me a fierce radical feminist, or unclean, or masculine. It also bears absolutely no correlation to my sexuality. All it means is that I’m not afraid of my body’s natural state and refuse to give into patriarchal cultural boundaries that try to tell me otherwise. The sun only comes out for about three days a year in the UK and I’m not going to waste anytime acquiring more razor-burn when I could be out enjoying it as I am.
So why not try out a no-shave summer? Even if it’s just for a couple of days it will contribute towards the fight to normalize the natural female body and you never know you might just like it.
(GO TEAM JULIA!)