Shall we talk about freedom ? No, truly, if everyone is talking about it, congratulating each other, letting off fireworks, let’s talk about it – about the state of being that wise books describe as the ability to be free, to be free to act, speak and think without any externally imposed limitations.
But this time, about freedom and independence not from someone, but about the choice to be free and independent in one’s own opinions and choices. To love, to kiss, to experience, to care for oneself – exactly how you wish, and in no other way.
More than 68% of people (an equal proportion of man and women) believe that an unshaved woman’s armpit or leg is revolting. And it is not important if you are gay or heterosexual, a rural or urban dweller. Male hairy armpits do not elicit such a reaction, and even a faint hint of surprise can be discerned if the hairy clumps are nowhere to be seen. But you try getting into a tram wearing a beautiful summery dress, with red lipstick, gold earrings and unshaven, no, re-grown, armpit hair. Don’t sit down, but lift up your arm and hold onto the handrail. A 10 minute trip will seem like an eternity, the air thick enough with differing opinions to be cut with many knives. A few unabashed hairs and everything else, the flowers in the hair and the pearls in the hands, have absolutely no meaning whatsoever.
A mere 100 years and in the eyes of society, women have no hair in their armpits. In France, getting rid of excess hair (interesting, who was it that decided what is useful and what is excess hair?) is the most popular cosmetic treatment. Any hint of the presence of EXCESS hair is obscene and indecent and can only be afforded by a) those that don’t care (like really don’t care!), b) those who wear clothes from under which not a single strand of hair can escape or c) the especially beautiful, brave and fond of provocation like Frida Kahlo, Elizabeth Jagger, Amy Winehouse or Penelope Cruz.
Research into the culture of hair and hairiness is relatively recent, especially the history of women’s’ hairiness. Anthropologists say that the ancient Egyptians shaved beards and heads in order to make it more difficult to chop them off. The ancient Greeks and romans also didn’t shave, however, for the same purely practical reasons, Alexander the Great made shaving obligatory to save the heads of his soldiers from „kirdik”. Shaving thus became symbolic of civilization, the interpretation of which changed through the times and appeared in different forms throughout the world. Nevertheless, the civilized shave and barbarians smell. The liquidation of female hairiness has always been a matter of status from Cleopatra’s beeswax epilation to modern day. Shaving with blades (or sharpened animal teeth) has always ben dangerous, which leads me to say – those who shaved were the ones for whom showing status was essential and important.
So, since ancient times, the ones who shaved were the ones who had time, and most importantly, money – with which to purchase the fine wax and the slaves that were needed to extricate fine hairs from the body’s nooks and crannies. In modern times, since the twenties of the 20th century, hairs were eradicated by those who could afford to buy the, oh my!, short and sleeveless dresses advertised in fashion magazines. Gillete’s ability to envision a whole new market – women, and its adverting success in magazines like Harper’s Bazar USA played a huge role in the way we think and act today.
The desire to get rid of anything that attests to a woman’s wild nature, or that she is a little witch, deep and uncivilized is very strong among women themselves.
Of course, Playboy’s Photoshop and the men that it has zombified, are keen to support this desire, although as all studies clearly show, women themselves have been the greatest activists in this movement. To not be that what I am, for a contemporary woman is clearly very, very important. And it shows itself not through obvious manifestations, but in oh so many hidden, deeply hidden ways.
Regardless of what we are told by the fashion and cosmetics industries, humanity has taken up shaving for many reasons – driven by safety during war time, by beliefs about hygiene, by fashion, to show belonging to a certain strata of society or to adhere to some kind of cultural ritual. You must do what society, the media, the tribal elder and your own concept of beauty, tells you to do.
So, let me then ask you, perhaps for the first time in your life,
Why do you shave, wax, epilate and torture your leg, armpit and the most delicate skin of your genitals ? Because society makes you, the stares of those that surround you ? Your loving man ? Or because you feel beautiful yourself – what a lovely curve, what a glowing skin ? Perhaps you want to weed out all your authenticity and wildness and keep up the mantra that you have been fed – good girls are virgins, good girls are smooth ? Are there any serious issues of hygiene that make you feel better like this ? Are you free, freer, like this ?
Your answer is not that important, besides, it’s nobody’s business but yours. There is no right or wrong version; it’s based on your internal feeling. The most important thing is to ask yourself the question – why ? Does this make me flower ? Does it make me bloom ? Does it allow me to experience love, orgasms, light ? Fragrance ? Or do I do it because, well, I don’t really know why.
Then why do it ?