This post is for Mom. Please make sure that she sees it!
Hey Mom, remember when you decided not to shave your armpits for like two months and I was totally repulsed? I’m sorry.
What can I say except that I was buying into what the media and our culture was telling me about female beauty, instead of just appreciating women’s bodies for what they are? Since that fateful hairy pits trial run in high school, I’ve read a lot of feminist critique on the media, advertising, magazines, movies, etc. Again and again we’re told that women are beautiful if they are free from unsightly body hair. The only permissible hair for women is long and flowing on their head. We’re sold razors and trimmers, wax and Nair, epilators that literally rip the body hair out at the root. This commercial compares ungroomed pubic hair to untrimmed ornamental shrubbery. But who says a plant growing as it would in the wild is ugly?
And body hair is just the tip of the iceberg. We’re also shamed for our weight, the size of our breasts, butt and thighs, the blemishes that occur naturally on our skin, our height, skin color, etc. As women we’re told to live up to a very narrow beauty standard that is unattainable for most women.
Fortunately, feminists have done more than simply critiquing this beauty culture; they’ve provided a solution: body positivity. The idea is simple: love your body, no matter what shape and size it comes in. Blogs like Stop Hating Your Body (heads up, there’s some people in underwear) facilitate discussions of how to love your own body, and encourage everyone to send in pictures celebrating their unique bodies “no matter what you look like, what color, what gender, what size or however many “flaws”, healthy, not healthy, working on it.” Bloggers like P.S. It’s Fashion and GABIFRESH use fashion as a way to express themselves and embrace their bodies despite not looking like ladies on the catwalk. And then there’s the awesome woman who entered American Apparel’s patronizing plus-size model search contest as a joke, and won.
And me? Well, Mom, I haven’t shaved my armpits in 14 months. And I think I look awesome.