Sunday, February 1, 2015

Adjusting to An Alternative Body Hair Norm

It can seem strange, at first, to spend more than a passing moment thinking about how body hair affects us. On the one hand, it feels trivial to speak of something as mundane of body hair affecting personal lives and the life of our society. On the other hand, given that the removal or treatment of body hair is a multi-million dollar global industry, and that most people spend five, ten, or twenty minutes a day dealing with their body hair, the question becomes worthwhile.

Even before we started discussing the issue of body hair in class, I had to consider the topic anew because of my summer plans. From late May to early July this year, I'll be working my way across the country by WWOOFing (exchanging work on small organic farms for room and board) in North Carolina, New Mexico, California and Montana. It's a fact of life for WWOOFers that your bed may be anything from an RV to a tree house to a tent, that toilets usually take the form of a secluded outhouse and a bucket of sawdust, and that water for showers is cold and scarce.

With such minimalist bathroom facilities, shaving regularly would be impossible. That circumstance, combined with the flower-power vibe of the WWOOFing community, make it not unusual to meet women who unabashedly bare their leg and armpit hair. However, in spite of this alternative body hair norm, I've spent a considerable amount of time wondering how I'll deal with my own body hair this summer. Should I try to shave every few days when staying at farms where the shower facilities allow for it? Should I take advantage of my days on the road to shave in motels, or would that be an exercise in futility?

In spite of the fact that I know I'll be spending my summer kneeling in vegetable fields, not barhopping in the city, and in spite of the expected presence of other female non-shavers, I still hesitate at the thought of not shaving regularly-- which probably says as much about society as it does about me.

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating. I cannot help but observe that no man working his way across the USA WWOOFing will be concerned about shaving his face. By itself this is food for thought.