A post for Fanuary
“The best thing about being single at this time of year is inadvertently celebrating Movember in your knickers”
The above is a tweet of mine I merrily posted a few months ago whilst trying to be funny, honest and brave. A few hours went by and then the dreaded happened….someone brought it up in conversation. I was instantly embarrassed and started to regret sharing such a personal piece of information. I wouldn’t walk into a supermarket and shout ‘I’ve currently got pubic hair!’ at the top of my lungs for every stranger in the vicinity to hear.
I began this blog post days after that initial tweet, I kept it hidden until now out of embarrassment and shame at the fact that I was writing about something that is thought of as private. But then I realised, I need to stop worrying about the opinions of people I don’t aspire to be like, I need to write and share the sort of things that I wish other people would be brave enough to write and share. Whether my honesty on the internet horrifies my parents to read or not. Seeing as it is now Fanuary, a month dedicated to growing ones pubic hair, I decided now is as good a time as any to question the shame game.
My instant regret and embarrassment following the muffy Movember tweet and my hesitancy to publish this post got me thinking. Why ARE we so embarrassed about women having body hair? It’s perfectly natural and yet for decades we’ve been encouraged to shave, wax, pluck or epilate it off in the name of beauty and ironically ‘normality’.
Because unless you’re talking about ways to get rid of it, pubic hair in particular is something that you just don’t talk about. Teenage girls anticipate puberty long before it begins, many look forward to it and pray for it to happen, yet as soon as that first hair starts to appear, they’re desperate for it to go away, trying every painful trick in the book to remove it, desperate to shave it off as if it’s something dirty, something to be ashamed of.
I remember getting in a fight when I was little with a girl at school because she said that not only do men get body hair, but women get body hair too. I was outraged that someone could make such an idiotic statement. That night I burst into the bathroom to confront my Mum. “Do women have body hair?” I asked. “Yes, but they shave it.” She replied. “But …why? Men have it too!” I asked, confused. Does it not strike anyone odd that a 7 year old girl can summarise in one puzzled question of amazement, what we should all have been asking ourselves for years?
A while ago I was talking to some friends about the body hair topic and they seemed somewhat taken aback and rather horrified when I mentioned that I often show a complete disregard for such grooming when no one is going to see it. I confessed that the other half wasn’t particularly bothered about body hair and explained how he couldn’t understand why I’d turn up late for dates as I was too busy trying desperately to ensure everything was silky smooth. One horrified friend said ‘I shave for myself. I’d feel like less of a woman if I had body hair. Do you not want to be more feminine?’ Another said ‘I’d never stop shaving, I think my boyfriend would think I didn’t love him any more if I stopped caring about my appearance.’ Wow.
Recently Twitter was awash with derogatory comments about Geordie Shore’s, Charlotte, who bared all as she was getting out of the jacuzzi with nothing but a t shirt on. My initial thought when watching was “Oooh! She has hair. How quirky and avant garde!” My second thought was “Oh no. I bet Twitter has something to say about this.” I shouldn’t have looked. I know that now. A simple Twitter search of the words ‘Charlotte’s fanny’ (don’t judge me) revealed comments like: “Charlotte cant say fuck all with a fanny like an half eaten sponge cake” and “If we could choose between dating Susan Boyle or charlotte off Geordie shore we wod choose subo cause her fanny isn’t as worn out.” There were many a comment from horrified women too accusing Charlotte’s vagina being totally unworth of the ‘fairy’ nickname she often devotes to it.
Whether you think Charlotte, someone who defended herself from criticism following the flash by saying that she would show a picture of her ‘real’ fanny on Twitter, is worthy of sympathy for the above abuse or not, I can’t help but feel that the pressure from society to make sure that we are perfect at all times is what makes people, such as Charlotte, and the rest of us fret about keeping up appearances. We live in a world where channels such as MTV will broadcast a drunk woman flashing her junk whilst getting out of a jacuzzi purely to boost ratings and earn themselves a controversial hash tag on Twitter, knowing full well that she will be bombarded with abuse. I’m not saying such reality TV stars are entirely innocent in their exploits, they mostly know what they’re letting themselves in for on such programmes, but I really wish society wasn’t so cruel and narrow minded to criticise women for having a bit of fluff on their muff.
The comments concerned me greatly, not only because I initially thought Charlotte’s bits looked exactly what most vaginas looked like, but also because I couldn’t get my head around why any person in their right mind would use the term ‘a half eaten sponge cake’ as some form of insult.
All jokes aside, what I really want to know is, why are these people so concerned about other people’s body hair? What has it got to do with anyone other than she who possesses is? Especially if it’s not seen. You only have to suggest that you have abandoned your typical body hair maintenance regime for a few days and people start looking at you as if you are the filthiest thing they have ever laid eyes on.
I’d love nothing more than having the ability to grow a massive armpit bush overnight (its the stubbly in between stage that I’m not so keen on) but unfortunately that is not possible nor would I want to be stared at by disgusted teenagers on the bus.
So do you know what? I conform. I shave my underarms when I know they’re going to be seen. I shave my legs when I go to the gym. When I see armpit stubble during my morning shower I worry that it had been there the night before when I waved at someone in the pub.
When I tell people about my interest in feminism I am more often than not met with the mandatory ignorant questions such as “Do you wear a bra?” “Do you shave your armpits?” And I end up saying yes to both, just so that I don’t live up to the idiotic stereotype that such narrow minded imbeciles like to latch on to. But is the decision to not shave when you cannot be bothered limited to those who call themselves feminists? I think the fact that there are women out there who feel the need to shave in order to fit in with everyone else and not get stared at whilst on the bus really sad and upsetting. It’s as though we aren’t in control of our own bodies.
When the woman in the image above went on This Morning to celebrate her body hair, the Daily Mail obviously pounced on the story like a cat. Journalist, Amanda Platell wrote: “Yikes, it was horrible. As were her hairy legs to match. Watching her I nearly parted company with my breakfast.” She went on to announce “Hairiness is just unfeminine.” What is unfeminine about something that is supposed to be there?! Here is the rest of the article, you really should read it. You’re in for a sickening treat. While almost everything Platell seems to know about life appears to derive from episodes of Sex and the City, it’s refreshing to see Daily Mail readers calling her out on her body shaming comments.
However, despite my new found love for Daily Mail online readers, an online poll allegedly revealed that 80% of viewers were appalled by what they saw that day. How dare a woman turn her back on the razor? How dare a woman refuse to spend her hard earned cash on a monthly bikini wax?
Life is too short to worry about having a bit of stubble when someone is about to see you naked. As far as I’m concerned there are far better things to spend your time and money on than removing your body hair.
There really is no reason to get grossed out by body hair either, we all have it. After all, while we criticise women for harbouring hair in their knickers, men get the very same stuff on their faces and we don’t bat an eyelid.
If there are any women reading this who question why we are expected to engage in these shadowy rituals so commonly associated with womanhood, this Fanuary could be the month that you stand up and stick two fingers up to a society which tells you that you are unfeminine for being natural – you don’t have to get it out to prove your dedication to the cause. Fair enough, going au natural and kicking the epilator to the curb for a month isn’t for everybody, I won’t criticise those who prefer a hair free body, nor will I snatch and hide any razors from my friends’ bathroom cupboards. So long as they don’t dare dictate to me or any other woman that we are unnatural or unfeminine for simply being ourselves.
Bye bye! x