Saturday, July 07, 2012

Don't Change a Hair for Me: Wear a lap lap

Did you see the reaction, about a week ago, to this picture of Irish writer Emer O'Toole, exposing her pit hair on a UK breakfast show?

This is from her article in The Guardian, explaining herself, in question and answer form:

Don't small children run when they see you, fearing you will lure them to your gingerbread house?

A scene from my life:
Small child: Why do you have hair under your arms?
Me: Because when girls and boys grow up into women and men they grow hair under their arms.
Small child: My mum doesn't have hair under her arms.
Me: She shaves it off.
Small child: She doesn't.
Me: She does. Ask her.
Small child: Mum, do you?
Mother of small child: Yes.
Small child: Why?
Exactly, small child. Exactly.

And this:

Intriguing. I am considering ditching my Gillette Multi-Blade Princess Goddess Sexy Miracle Razor. What do you say to me?

Remember that you are doing the necessary and important work of challenging stupid, arbitrary, gendered bullshit. And when you get to feminist heaven, Judith Butler and Simone de Beauvoir will be waiting with bubbly wine, a corn-fed organic roast chicken, Bikini Kill and the entire cast of Monty Python. Do you want to miss that party?

Hey, that's a party I'm already on my way to joining!

If she'd revealed her tattoos or facial piercings, no-one would turn a hair (if they had the hairs to turn). We don't say 'yuk'. We may not want tattoos and facial piercings for ourselves, but we accept them. I find it refreshing to see an image of a woman who has hairy pits. She looks like a lovely, clean, intelligent woman, showing us that you have a choice about these things. It has been a long time since there was public comment on Deb Conway showing her hairy pits.  

Sometimes I tell people that one piece of advice I would give to young women is to never shave their bodies. People assume I'm encouraging waxing or lasering as means of hair removal. But no. I mean, just don't remove your body hair. Radical, I know. But I say it because I really wish I'd never started. I don't shave much. I shave my legs to the knee and have never gone higher. I've rarely been waxed. I shave my pits when I feel I need to - not for swimming but for the gym. Shaving the pits is becoming a bit tricky - when I'm in the shower and think to do it I really need to wear my glasses, which would steam up - so mostly I just don't bother. My mother never removed her body hair and her hair was soft and fine. The more you shave and wax the bigger the area that needs attention, and the coarser and darker the hair. This is a point my partner argues about, but I'm sticking to my truth here. The same may not apply to other women of different colouring, but for me, a fair woman with dark hair, I really need never to have started. Blonde women probably need never to start. I apply The Beauty Myth logic. Removing your body hair as an regular obligation is expensive and time consuming. Adding the Caitlin Moran argument: no man worth having has ever knocked back a shag with a women on the basis of her having body hair. I don't argue that you should keep it because it is natural. (Mould is natural.So are disasters.) I just believe it isn't worth doing, because once you start you set up the expectation that you will keep doing it, every week or so, for the rest of your life. And that's a long time, with a lot of other better things you could be doing.

My other reason is for diversity. We need to see many more different representations of women. I'm happy to be the women in the change room at the pool who has hair. If girl children don't see it on other people, how do they know not to be ashamed when their own body hair grows. They don't get to see body hair on women anywhere else. I understand there is a growing trend for adolescent girls to be waxed as soon as any hair grows. What kind of message is that? Girls growing up not knowing what their bodies are really like without the intervention of unnecessary grooming.

When I was younger I had a fascination for the Romany people. I read that when Romany women flashed their pit hair at a man it was considered to be erotic, because of the suggestion of hair elsewhere. We've lost that. We could bring it back.

About twenty years ago I bought a second hand swimsuit which was a blue, halterneck swimming dress. I loved it. My friend and I wrote a song. Here are the lyrics. Imagine it sung in the style of the Singing Nun. (And yes, I acknowledge the nod to Dorothy Parker.) (And, yes, she performed this in public!)

The Lap Lap Song

Lets all sing in praise of the humble lap lap
Don't change the shape of your sweet Tassie map map
Your body wants hair not those rashy bald gap gaps
Lets all go to the beach wearing Tarzan like flap flaps

A girl without hair, what a ute-load of clap trap
No prizes in guessing it started with a chap chap
He'd never felt electrolysis zap zap
It's time we all stopped this self-mutilating trap trap

Oh waxing stings
Shaving cuts
Tweezers hurt
Depilatory sucks

And what about those ads - they deserve a big slap slap
You have the choice - don't be a sap sap
You'll have more time - take a well-earned nap nap
Put your hands in the air, show your hair and all clap clap

Oh waxing stings
Shaving cuts
Tweezers hurt
Depilatory sucks

Lets all sing in praise of the humble lap lap
Don't change the shape of your sweet Tassie map map
Your body wants hair not those rashy bald gap gaps
Who cares if your hair's hanging down from your flap flaps

Abandon your care
Keep your hair
Wear a lap lap


Sastry.M said...

A reawakening into womanhood and retracing into human form of Divine Grace and Natural Creation
Thanks for standing up against hate filled,self serving big business manipulations who stop at nothing to gain greedy personal wealth at the cost of natural human form which Love has created with respect and equanimity.

sister outlaws said...

Think I'll learn that song. You know when we were teenagers we didn't shave under our arms because we wanted to seem French and sophisticated. We were influenced by French cinema - "Betty Blue" came out around then. I continued to let my under arms be natural and I remember an eight year old friend of my daughters ridiculing me and asking, while pointing at my underarms, "Haven't you forgotten something?"