Wednesday, January 20, 2010

On Hair. TMI ALERT!

I want to talk about hair. The hair on my head, the hair under my arms, the hair on my legs and the hair "down there" (read that phrase in a Vogue magazine one time and liked it. Dunno why).

I'm recently learning to love the hair on my head. As you can tell from my profile pic, I'm a brunette. What may not be quite as obvious, is that it's also curly. Not kinky curly, not wavy, but an odd mixture of curls and waves that have a mind of their own. Now, the color of my hair has never bothered me. I'm not one to get highlights or colors put in my hair. I've done it before and liked it, but it seems impractical given my budget and time constraints. But as I said, recently I've learned how to take care of my hair and what products keep it in some semblance of order (or artful disorder, as the case may be). So it's longer than it's been in years, and I'm generally satisfied with how it looks.

I'm really not sure what the hair under my arms looks like. I started shaving it when I was about 14 (I was a late bloomer. I'm sure it's earlier for a lot of women). So all I know about it is that it's dark and gets stubbly after a couple of days without meeting my razor. However, since becoming familiar with Amanda "Fucking" Palmer and her brazen ways, I'm considering changing that. It's not that I mind shaving. Many, many men shave their faces or at least parts of their faces everyday. This isn't necessarily an issue I'm spending a lot of feminist energy on. But I'm tired of shaving under my arms. I'm not entirely certain whether I will or not, but watching a woman like AFP be successful and confident and beautiful all the while having hairy pits... Well, why not? It'd save me that much more time in the mornings (I am not a morning person. I get up in *just* enough time to shower and get my ass out the door).

Now for the hair on my legs. Honestly? I like my legs to be bald. I like the way they feel when I rub them up against each other and they're all smooth. And I like how even cotton sheets feel like satin after I've shaved. So chances are, I'm gonna keep shaving them. I didn't start shaving them til I was in my mid teens. I simply didn't want to mess with it. But if I recall correctly, my leg hair, while dark, is rather fine. So I think I could probably go without shaving them. But I'm not gonna. 'Cause I like it :)

While I like my legs to be bald, I do not like bald pussy. These words by Eve Ensler (in the first chapter of her Vagina Monologues) were incredibly comforting to me, "You have to love hair in order to love the vagina. You can't pick the parts you want." And yet, most underclothing and bathing suit styles nowadays insist that women should be completely bald, except for their heads. Well, sorry. I ain't buyin' it. I mean, I do buy bathing suits and panties. But I don't buy the idea that I should have to be bald. Not down there. However, as I said earlier, I haven't been expending a lot of feminist energy on this. I'll be quite frank, I do some maintenance down there. I mean, folks trim and shave the hair on their heads and faces (or legs and armpits). So I don't see it as being far fetched to do the same to pubic hair. But I refuse to shave it or wax it into non-existence.

Ultimately what I'm saying is that from here on out, my hair will be about me. About what I'm comfortable with, enjoy etc. I'm tired of it being about a larger cultural beauty standard. AFP tweeted this today, "hopefully ... we'll change the cultural beauty & shaving standard this year." And that's what I hope for as well. I have enough things to worry about. I'm tired of this being one of them.


How about my few readers (bless your enduring, "omg, here Lessie goes again, and we're reading anyway" hearts)? How do you all feel about your hair? All of it? Do you like your hair long? Short? Do you like smooth legs or a more natural look? Are you a wild and bushy type down there? Or do you like a hairless look (cause seriously, I really don't care either way)? Do any of these things bother you? Worry you? I wanna hear.

18 comments:

angryyoungwoman said...

I went about 4-6 months once without shaving *anything*. And with my Italian/Jewish roots, I was a lovely, hirsute sight to behold. I enjoyed it. It felt very natural to me. Plus, I got this strange pleasure from playing with my armpit hair. I know, I'm so gross!

I'm generally very lax about shaving/body hair. I'll go without for weeks or months. Hairy legs used to bother me, but now I find a sort of perverse joy in being as hairy as I can be. And forget about the bush. Grooming that is just TOO MUCH BOTHER. I'll just wear a t-shirt over my swimsuit, thanks.

G said...

ah, this makes me want to shave my head again! (it's at a rather difficult length at the moment)

I'm kinda like ayw, I may go for weeks without shaving my legs/armpits. mostly just out of laziness (and then when i DO get around to shaving, I almost clog the damn drain). (though, I am not cool enough yet to go swimming without grooming/maintenance of the swimsuit areas)

Like you, I LOVE the feel of just shaved legs (so smooth!)... but my arm pits? hmmm Ya know, I could let them grow and be okay with it! Perhaps I'll start now, in preparation for a summer of tank tops, see if I can get some good length going :)

Chandelle said...

I have some strong opinions about hair, from a feminist standpoint. But I used to be rather fanatical about my hair (dyeing it, styling it) and shaving every part of my body (including my arms and yes, 100% of my pubic hair).

I gave up dying my hair because of the chemicals. Pregnancy made my hair quite a bit darker than it used to be, and I like the color now. (I just wish that my eyebrows had darkened accordingly.) As for styling it, fuck that. I just don't want it in my face. I do struggle with length. Sometimes I fantasize about having long, beautiful, uber-feminine hair. But when it's short, ultra-short, I feel much sexier, and Jeremy can actually run his fingers through it, and grip it during sex, which, to be TMI myself, I love. :) So I have a hard time deciding. Right now I'm trying to grow it out again. Most likely, I will get sick of it and shave it again. I was happiest with a shaved head, but the least comfortable as far as social interaction. Sometimes I think that I'll award myself with a permanently shaved head when I reach my goal weight - maybe I won't mind people staring at me so much.

It was a big step for me to quit shaving. As you probably know, Jeremy is the one who encouraged me to stop. He kept accusing me of pandering to the misogynistic industrial-beauty complex. :) I thought body hair was just about the grossest thing ever. But I decided to try it, since I did have some feminist cog-dis about it. I haven't looked back. I do shave under my arms once or twice in the summer, but otherwise, nada. After a while, hairy legs feel just as smooth as shaved legs. I love the feeling of clean, cool sheets against my legs just as I did when I shaved, but I never get that stubbly feeling, which is very nice.

As for public hair...well. I never expose myself enough to worry what anyone else thinks about it. It's not a big ol' bush anyway. Actually, I love big ol' bushes on women and wish I had one like that. I do trim a bit, mostly to feel clean. Otherwise I don't touch it, definitely don't use a razor or wax, don't bother with my bikini line.

In general, I am anti-discomfort and definitely anti-pain when it comes to beauty rituals. I let my eyebrows and bikini line grow where they may. I will never let hot wax anywhere near my body unless that happens to be my lover's particular kink.

All that being said...I don't feel ready to expose myself as a (relatively) hairy person. I wouldn't consider wearing a tank top. This is probably just because I'm so intensely uncomfortable with physical scrutiny - same with the shaved head. I'm in awe of women who just let their freak flag fly like that.

G said...

"I love big ol' bushes on women"
you would love me then, I can GROW it!!
hahaahah.
/ahem.

hot wax~ i must admit my own little addiction to it. I used to regularly wax my bikini line (including, once, totally bare), but it was rather counter-productive (all the ingrown hairs, and needing to grow it out before waxing it again)so now I just trim and clip and occasionally shave (in the summer months, or before a Tri)
but I DO use hot wax for my eyebrows and the other "unsightly" and "unfeminine" facial hair I am so blessed with.

Lessie said...

"Freak flag" I love it! :D

You guys brought up one thing I forgot: Eyebrows. I admit to plucking mine. I've never given a lot of thought to it. I like the way eyebrows look when they're shaped. Again, this is just personal preference.

Chandelle, I know what you mean about feminist issues with hair. And those issues are certainly what lead me to start contemplating all this. But as I said in my post, I've come to a point in my feminism where I feel there are bigger battles that need to be fought. So while I may not shave my pits, I'm not going to spend time converting the masses toward following me on this one (I will spend time trying to convert them to the ideas of gender parity, equal pay, etc.).

Chandelle said...

"I've come to a point in my feminism where I feel there are bigger battles that need to be fought. So while I may not shave my pits, I'm not going to spend time converting the masses toward following me on this one (I will spend time trying to convert them to the ideas of gender parity, equal pay, etc.)."

Oh, I totally agree that there are bigger battles to be fought. I'm not particularly evangelical about beauty rituals, though I will expound ad nauseum if they're mentioned (as you now know :). I DO think it's tremendously important to release women, especially teenage girls, from the shackles of rigid beauty standards and from the entire idea that women are a product to be sold to men, their value determined by how well they conform to those standards. That bothers the ever-loving hell out of me. I do believe that beauty standards are a major way that women are oppressed in our society. But rather than wishing to entirely eliminate beauty rituals like shaving, dying, plucking, waxing, liposucking, implanting, and so forth, I'd rather that we relaxed our standards to allow a range of expression of beauty for women - and men.

angryyoungwoman said...

Oh, yeah, my eyebrows. I'll wax them about once a month. Otherwise they take up about a third of my face. I can be a little bit uncomfortable with public scrutiny of my appearance.

Katie said...

I've read your blog a few times, coming over from links on Chandelle's blog.

I have a lot of cognitive dissonance about me being repulsed by my body hair. I've tried to accept it, but so far I'm not there.

I have curly head hair and have come to LOVE IT. Sometimes it annoys the crap out of me, but I still love it. As a teenager, my goal was to have it straight as often as possible. Now, I might straighten it once a year or so to have fun with it.

My eyebrows are nearly invisible so I've never done anything with them. I had them waxed once before my sister's wedding but forgot to keep up with it.

I have always shaved armpits/legs if I'm going to wear anything that would show the hair. I convince myself that nylons hide my hair quite well, so I'd wear them with hairy legs. I started trimming the pubic hair a few years ago (after 4-5 years of marriage). Prior to that, I had no idea that anyone actually really did it. Of course I knew that magazines talked about it, but I didn't know that translated into real people doing that. Seriously, I was that clueless.

I eventually decided to forego shaving armpits/legs until I had made peace with all my hair. I made it 4 months and was still grossed out with my leg hair, so I finally shaved it again. I've shaved it once every 2-3 weeks since then. I am currently going through a divorce and not having sex. If I had a partner who liked shaved legs, I would shave them more often. It's not an issue where I would insist that the man loves my hair, since I can't even love it myself. But if I had a guy who felt like Chandelle's partner, that would be awesome.

Anonymous said...

I have read your blog a few times and I have to say that it is always interesting. But for me on this matter, I hate hair except on my head. I love the bald pussy, they silk smooth legs against silk sheets, and the armpits have to be completely hairless. I actually do shave all of the above EVERYDAY. The hair on my head I do admit I get it cut, dyed, and styled at least once a month. I feel that I am a woman and I should feel good about all my body. I will not go out of the house without my hair done, eyebrows plucked, and all of the above shaven.I like to feel that I am well taken care of and that I was not thrown here to take up space but to take care of myself!!! I love looking the best I can!!!

Lessie said...

"I'd rather that we relaxed our standards to allow a range of expression of beauty for women - and men."

AMEN! That's ultimately what I hope for as well. That we feel either sex *needs* to be bald is really saddening to me. If someone wants to have shaven or unshaven bits, whether they be male or female, legs, pits, chests etc., that's their prerogative. But if they feel they have to simply to feel attractive, I think that's very limiting and sad. Thank you for articulating one of the points I was hoping to get across.

Lessie said...

Katie! Welcome :) I totally know what you mean about feeling grossed out by my hair. I've certainly been there before. Indeed, since I started this little project, I've been a little spooked now and again when I look in the mirror with my arms raised (still early in the process). But I'm persevering. Heh. I didn't even ask my current partner what he thought. I guess he'll say something if he's bothered ;-P

Meanwhile, you do what makes you feel good. That's ultimately what this post is about.

And also, divorce SUCKS! I'm just now starting to heal from my own divorce a little over a year ago. My heart goes out to you. I've been considering some more posts on divorce. Maybe I should actually write them. Have you blogged much about your own experience?

Lessie said...

Anonymous, welcome to you as well :)

I like to look the best I can most of the time as well. I don't feel that that means I have to be covered in makeup and bald except for my head. I don't take issue with the fact that you do all these things.

You say, "I feel that I am a woman and I should feel good about all my body."

Well, I agree. And for me, that means feeling okay with the fact that I'm an adult woman, and I have hair.

Again, I really don't care if women shave or don't. But I also think it's unfair of the shaven or the unshaven to say that either side "lets herself go" or "gives in to the patriarchy" just because she adheres to one beauty standard or another.

So be bald and if it's what you like, embrace it. But don't imply that just because my pits and pussy are hairy, I don't care about my body or my appearance.

Katie said...

I've had my blog for 5 years and have pretty much avoided saying anything remotely personal that whole time :-P However, I have written some personal divorce related posts starting in September 2009.

xJane said...

I'm late to the party here, but I love this conversation! So…top down:

I like long hair during the winter (it keeps my neck warm) but chop it real short at the first sign of warmth (I hate living in a hot area). I like long hair that I can braid or do up in a bun or short hair I don't have to worry about. I hate the in-between.

I've been asked a number of times, by people who wax/thread their eyebrows if I do mine ("because they're so perfectly shaped!!"). When I say I do not, they tell me I should, which is baffling to me. A second ago, you wanted to know who did my brows so you could go there, too!!

Armpits must be hairless!! I don't know what it is, but [my own] armpit hair disturbs me. Couldn't care less about other people's. I think it's contagious, too, because DH has started using his beard trimmer to keep his armpit hair short (hasn't shaved it completely, though).

My pubic triangle I like shortish and waxed (because the grow-back is less painless than shaving) into a landing strip (or similar). But the hair between my legs (like, on my lips) has to go! Most of the time I'm too lazy/cheap to do it, though. DH and I both use the beard trimmer to keep pubic hair shortish.

Ah, legs. I love a good winter coat. My waxer was horrified that I would go unwaxed or shaven between November and March. I think this year I'll take pity on her and use the beard trimmer on my legs before going in.

DH has never volunteered a preference (I have asked on a few occasions) but when I do shave/wax my legs/pubic area, he tries to positively reinforce that action with appreciative "oooh, your legs are so smooth!" and he has allows as how (since I currently am not working) getting waxed is a good use of his money. :-p

It's nice to (a) be able to share all this and (b) hear the divergent viewpoints. I think all hair should be approached like head hair is: there are many styles and many opinions about those styles. Some people like bald, some like mullets, some like long, some like short. There's no accounting for taste, but that's okay.

Lessie said...

Once again, someone else has articulated much more concisely what I was trying to say. I love this xJane:

"I think all hair should be approached like head hair is: there are many styles and many opinions about those styles... There's no accounting for taste, but that's okay."

tranquility said...

i don't touch my eyebrows, do play with my head hair, do shave everywhere else on a regular basis (get lax on my legs tbh but love the feel of them smooth)

in islam both men and women are encouraged to shave pits and 'down there' - when i first did it i felt weird (new experience. new look. lol)but now i find hairy uncomfortable and irritating.

haven't dropped by for ages Lessie. you're still exploring as curiously as ever (love it!) .D

love
shukr
xxx

Lessie said...

Shukr! It's so good to see you :) I was thinking about you just the other day and wondering how your littlest ones are doing. Is your little girl doing all right? I know there were some questions about her vision.

I had never heard that about Islam encouraging shaving. Is there an explanation given? These are the kinds of things I find fascinating, and again, one reason I hesitate to make any prescriptive statements about what women "should" do.

I'd love to hear more.

Eve said...

I had my head shaved (used a #1 guide on the buzzer) for about a year & a half in 07-08 and absolutely loved it most of the time. I've been missing it lately. My head hair is straight and managable, but looks limp if it gets much past my chin.

In high school and the first several years after, the custom of grooming our head hair grossed me out. It's just dead cells stringed together growing out of our scalps, and yet we put so much value on the appearance and style of it! It still perplexes me a bit, but I can get past it now for the most part!

As for shaving body hair, I'm pretty hit & miss on all of it, and grateful that, unlike men in an office environment, I can choose a wardrobe to accomodate not shaving for a few days and get away with that at work!