Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Hairless Norm: Is It Normal?

I spent hours reading through post after post, page after page on The Last Triangle.  I was truly captivated by all the different viewpoints presented in the blog posts, comments, videos and hyperlinks.  I found myself constantly making connections and being reminded of things while I read each post.  So many questions were being raised in my mind.   I couldn’t get my mind off of the topic.

In the post “The Courage to Quit”, I noted, just as the author did, that using the word “courageous” to define the act of not shaving seemed kind of ridiculous.  When we think of the words like courage, bravery, and fearlessness, growing pubic hair is probably not what comes to mind.  So why is it that defying this trend is being seen in this way?  Do these “courageous” people stop shaving because they realize they don’t have to?  Because they don’t want to be told what to do with their bodies?  To prove that they don’t have to?

The question of whether or not I wanted to stop shaving has crossed my mind, not because I wanted to defy the norm, but because I just hate shaving.  It’s time consuming.  It’s expensive.  It’s annoying.  I began to think about why I started shaving in the first place.  I did ballet and gymnastics when I was younger so as soon as my armpit hair began to grow, I shaved it without questioning.  When I was in fourth grade, some girls had begun to shave their legs and by sixth grade, everyone was.  Everyone but me.  I had begged my mom to let me shave and after a few months, she finally agreed to it.  I have been shaving regularly for ten years.  Sure there are times where I go two or three weeks without shaving (hello, winter!) but I have never gone more than a month without shaving because I feel dirty and it gets sort of painful.  I know I’m not the only girl that feels like this—I’ve had more than one conversation with my sister, my aunts, my best friends about it—and we all feel the same.  My question is Why?  Why do we feel unclean?  Is it just because I am so used to having smooth legs?

I have a lot more to say just about that, but I think I’ll save that for another time.

On to my next thing: the influence and pressure we are putting on young girls (and boys).  I mentioned a few children’s toys in class and was pretty satisfied when I saw that everyone had the same reactions I did when I found out about the products.

First, the “Bath Time Play Shave Set” marketed towards young children.  I have seen many varieties of these on the end shelves of Target over the past two years.  Spongebob, Superman, Hello Kitty, Barbie, Spiderman.  What kid wouldn’t want a toy that makes them “all grown up”?  I was shocked, though, when I looked these up and found out they ranked among the best children’s toys by Parent’s Magazine.  So now companies aren’t just targeting young girls, but three-year-olds who want to be “just like dad” or “just like mom.”

Next, and what is more horrifying, are Monster High Dolls.  These dolls came out in 2010 few years ago and are targeted towards girls aged 5-10.  A little girl that I babysat over the summer got a bunch of these dolls for her 7th birthday.  I was helping her open the packages and we were reading the character’s profiles.  I was shocked to hear one of them that talked about flirting and shaving.  I remembered this while I was reading The Last Triangle and looked it up again.  Here is the excerpt from the doll’s profile:

“Freaky Flaw:  My hair is worthy of a shampoo commercial and that's just what grows on my legs. Plucking and shaving is definitely a full-time job, but that's a small price to pay for being scarily fabulous.”

In addition, her favorite activities include “shopping and flirting with boys.”  She calls herself “gorgeous and intimidating.”   

Doing further research, I found an interview with a spokesperson from Mattel (who makes the Monster High dolls).  The spokesperson claims that "Monster High characters deliver a positive message of celebrating ones imperfections and embracing those of others."

I can't help but laugh out loud at how preposterous that is.  Why on earth are toys and values like this being targeted towards girls who don’t even know what flirting, shaving, or plucking is?  Now it’s not just an issue of trying to fit in, but girls are being told flat-out that “it’s a small price to pay.”

1 comment:

  1. There is no health benefit to shaving for men or women. Shaving is all about culture being inscribed on the human body.