It’s official. Hair is back.
We’ve experienced a long drought since the heyday of hair in the 70s. Feminism was almost fashionable and so was women’s body hair. Having unshaven armpits was both the norm and a political statement.
Since I’ve been alive and until recently, though, efforts to disguise and destroy all evidence that women *gasp* grow body hair, just like men, seemed only to increase to points of insanity. Suddenly the only acceptable pubic hair was a creepy-looking Hitler moustache, the merely symbolic “landing strip” — absurd in its purposelessness — or literally none at all, because apparently the prepubescent look is hot (read: men are disgusting).
I’ve announced publicly and privately a number of times that shaving or waxing one’s vagina is gross, unsanitary, and a huge waste of time, money and energy. The upkeep is a daily chore and the results of said chore can result in an itchy, painful, red, ugly, infected mess.
Sometimes when I make such statements I’m told I’m shaming women who shave or that it really isn’t so bad. And honestly, do whatever you want with your body hair. I spend time and money on other ridiculous and unnecessary beauty rituals too, so I’m not here to judge you. But I have to admit that, despite the fact that I don’t think that what women do or don’t do with their body hair should be dictated by fashion or the male gaze, the return of hair feels a little bit thrilling.
I also really like the idea of prudish, uptight, conservative, sexist men being grossed out by women’s leg hair. It’s not only an excellent way to out sexist men (Oh, really? Do you also think my period is gross? Cool. Now get away from my oxygen), but grossing out men’s eyes by looking like a human being instead of a porn star is something we should all do more of.
VICE just published a series of photos by Arvida Bystrom of a bunch of women with unshaven armpits, hairy legs, and uncoiffed pubes. Despite the fact that the photos present the natural state of most women’s bodies as kind of trendy and fashiony, I didn’t feel as though the photographer was trying to sexualize the women or their body hair.
It would, of course, be much better if we didn’t have to think or talk about the politics or presentation of our body hair at all, but as of yet, this isn’t the case and I have to admit that it all feels hugely refreshing within a pornified culture that pressures women to be perfect and plastic and flawless at any cost. It’s worth acknowledging that this hair is appearing on the bodies of young, attractive white women, and that this is perhaps a more palatable way of presenting women’s body hair to an audience of hipsters, but I also feel like the hairiness messes with the male gaze in a way that probably makes a lot of male gazers uncomfortable. And I like that.
Feel free to tell me I’m wrong on this — at very least a little overly enthusiastic — but certainly we could use the time and money and energy spent trying to divorce ourselves from our body hair on something more fulfilling and less painful? At very least I’m happy to see women looking like real human beings in public spaces…