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Why I'm giving up the razor

I have an almost 12 year old daughter, she is reaching the age where the usual puberty changes are happening, there are boobs and hormonal mood swings and there is the hair… Sprouting from armpits, legs and you know, everywhere.

And so it got me thinking about the relationship between young women and their body hair.  It is such an odd thing when you think that though teens are desperate to grow into adults, they also want to remove the body hair that shows their maturity.

We live in a society where the norm is to remove every inch of hair from our legs, armpits and fannies and though I have no issue with women who choose to do this, it concerns me that the vast majority of images we see are of hairless women.

I watched The Devil Inside recently, a movie about demonic possession, there is a scene in this ‘docu-film’ (you know the whole film shown as a real documentary thing) where a woman has been locked in a basement, chained to a bed, she has dislocated her own shoulders and has the devil living inside her… Yet she seemed to have found the time to have shaved her armpits.  What the fuck?

the devil inside armpits

 

I’m a fan of The Walking Dead and it is noteworthy that all the female characters are totally smooth in the pit department.  They are years into apocalypse, zombies are walking the earth, their days are spent killing monsters yet all the women have the time to make sure they have no body hair that could be deemed unattractive?

And so I come back to my own family, my eldest child is a boy and so the only shaving we have discussed is about the whiskers on his chin but now I come to my daughter and I suddenly feel so protective over her body as she has so much more pressure to deal with as she grows up.  She has started to mention that other girls at school shave their legs and though she hasn’t outright asked yet, we have talked about it a little bit.  I have told her that some women shave, some don’t.  Either way her body hair is natural and she is a beautiful young woman and removing the hair or not won’t change that.

Then I look down at my hairless legs and armpits and think, oh snap… I grew up in a house of women with two sisters both a lot older than me and so I have always shaved.  It was just the norm, it was what women DID.  When I actually thought about WHY I shave I can’t really say why I do it.  I care little either way, I don’t have a strong preference yet it is a habit that I have done for over 20 years!

And so I decided to ditch the razors for a while, my body is au naturel at the minute and it honestly has made no difference to my life.  I am not making a big deal about it, we actually haven’t discussed that I now have hair on my body where it previously wasn’t, and that’s how I want it to be, not a big deal.  I am not encouraging her NOT to shave, more silently showing her that some women don’t and the world doesn’t stop turning.

I think the legs and armpit shaving leads onto a trend that worries me more which is the pubic hair thing… In a study by Indiana University, it showed that two-thirds of women aged 18-24, had totally or partially removed their pubic hair during the past month, and a fifth had been hairless during that entire period.  I talked to male friends and two had NEVER slept with a woman who had pubic hair.

It is all about personal choice, for sure, but more women remove the hair than those who don’t, making a hairy fanny a rare breed these days.  Most of my friends remove the vast majority or all of their pubic hair and it got me wondering why, some say they hate the way they look with hair, others cite cleanliness and fashion as the reason they go smooth down below.

As adults we have the ability to make that choice ourselves, I am seriously not judging those who do shave or wax.  But it does concern me that pre teens and teens see a very hairless society that tells them that hair removal for women is not only the norm, but that women with hair on their body are ugly, dirty or the punchline of a joke.

Some say the trend began in the pornographic industry, the vast majority of pornographic images show no hair at all and I suppose that is what concerns me, that pornographic imagery has seeped into mainstream life so far that our young teen girls are mimicking the looks of porn stars.

Perhaps it is simply a trend, one that is going to change with the times.  Either way I feel really protective over the daughter and her body hair! Maybe that is daft and I need to calm down, but I have this feminist voice screaming in my ear that I need to show my daughter that her body hair isn’t ugly or something to be ashamed of, that many beautiful, smart, wonderful women have body hair and it makes not a jot of difference.  I feel like I need to show her some sort of antidote to the barrage of hairless images and the messages she sees constantly that hair = ugly.

This post is not about stigmatising women who remove their hair, it is about a conversation that we often don’t speak of, if you have ever winced at the sight of a woman with hairy legs, think about WHY? What is it that you think is offensive or ugly.  Women’s bodies are constantly being judged on weight, size, shape, colour and body hair is another way to marginalise women, to make them feel ashamed of the natural state of themselves.

I realise I do sound anti shaving and I am genuinely not.  As with everything, personal choice is key but I like to think now that I am the mother of a young woman that I can do a little something to show her a different image to the ones that she sees everywhere else.

And so I am ditching the razor for the time being.  So far my husband hasn’t mistaken me for an overweight, bearded man,  but thanks Veet…

 

Love Sam x

Why EVERYONE should be a feminist

Ahead of my talk at International Women’s Day on Saturday I got thinking about what the day stands for.  Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate their achievements.  It’s a celebration of women.  A  day when we can all come out and blow our vuvuzellas, join together in strength, feel good, celebrate being women, a day of recognition of women and solidarity.  A day of feminism.

But are we all feminists?

“Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and socialrights for women.  This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women.”

this is what a feminist looks like

Yet feminism is sometimes seen as a dirty word, there comes a sly snigger and talk of hairy armpits and lesbians when conversation turns to feminism.  People fearing to identity themselves with the word lest is taints them, makes them seem aggressive, political or in some way trouble.

Here are some (quite astonishing) quotes from celebrity women regarding feminism.

Geri Halliwell, she of “girl power” said this

“It’s about labelling. For me feminism is bra-burning lesbianism. It’s very unglamorous. I’d like to see it rebranded. We need to see a celebration of our femininity and softness.”

When Bjork was asked if she were a feminist, she replied

“No, because I think it would isolate me. I think it’s important to do positive stuff. It’s more important to be asking than complaining.”

Lady Gaga

“I’m not a feminist – I hail men, I love men. I celebrate American male culture, and beer, and bars and muscle cars….”

Madonna

“I’m not a feminist, I’m a humanist.”

Let’s go back to that definition – “A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women”

So what makes Madonna et al so afraid of being a proud, badge wearing, card carrying feminist? Are the negative connotations so strong that the word stokes fear into the heart of some of the most famous women in the world?

Luckily there are many who will proudly speak out.

kate-nash-quote-feminism

I am a feminist, my husband is a feminist, my three children are feminists.  I would go as far as to say that I really wouldn’t want to talk to anyone who doesn’t identify themselves as feminists.

If you are questioning now whether you are a feminist or not, luckily there is a online quiz for that, take the test and come back to me…

http://www.amiafuckingfeminist.com/

Clear now? Good.

I read this quote from an article by Laurie Penny in the Guardian and it really struck a chord with me.

“The stereotype of the ugly, unfuckable feminist exists for a reason – because it’s still the last, best line of defence against any woman who is a little too loud, a little too political. Just tell her that if she goes on as she is, nobody will love her.”

I am a strong, bold woman.  Im a married mother of three. I am many things and one of them is a feminist.  I have no fear in saying that loud and proud.  What about you?

People who shout down feminists, who mock, berate or fear them need to realise that feminism isn’t about that stereotype, its about your daughter, your sister, your mother, your female friends.  It is about every person in this world having equal opportunities whatever their gender.  If you honestly do not believe that women deserve equal rights to men then you are, well, I can’t even think of the words.  Ill just suggest you go and educate yourself.  Or perhaps go and explain your beliefs to your mother or daughter, that you don’t believe they are worth as much as a man…

If you DO believe in equality for women then identify yourself as a feminist.  Be proud that you are a good and decent person and don’t be afraid to speak out.

We’ll end this sermon with a picture of pretty much my favourite celebrity fella, Patrick Stewart

Patrick-Stewart feminist

Love Sam x

Helen Grant – sports minister and 50s house wife?

Helen Grant, sports minister is in the news today talking about how to get more women into sport.  Her plan seems to be to get them to do ballet or roller blading so they can look “feminine” and “radiant” – or maybe they could just stand on the side lines looking pretty and keep fit by cleaning the boys kit?

“Some girls may well not like doing very traditional hockey, tennis or athletics, others might, so for those who don’t want to, how about considering maybe gym, ballet, cheerleading?” she said.

“You don’t have to feel unfeminine … There are some wonderful sports which you can do and perform to a very high level and I think those participating look absolutely radiant and very feminine such as ballet, gymnastics, cheerleading and even roller-skating.”

Im spitting.  SPITTING with rage.  Shall we encourage our boys into football so they can look masculine?  Or into boxing so they can be manly?  Only boys mind, we definitely shouldn’t let our princesses partake in anything so uncouth!

Speaking of consulting women as to what they want, she said “whether it’s a Zumba class or a game of rounders after they’ve dropped the kids off.”

Because come on mummies, you have nothing better to do.  Go and have a dance class, you can look amazing and do the housework later!  Leave all that horrid ‘work’ stuff to the men, they are better at it.  You should make sure you keep fit  but ensure you shower and put your face back on in time for your husband getting home from work.  And get that dinner on the table at 6pm!

My daughters current hero is Jenny Jones, we are taking her for a snowboarding lesson next week as she has been so inspired by the athlete.  She doesn’t like her because of her make up, or her ‘radiance’ – she likes her because she kicks arse, she is an amazing snowboarder and won a medal at the olympics.

helen grant sport and girls

I feel that Im constantly fighting against poor body image messages that bombard my 11 year old.  Things ARE better and there are some fantastic female role models but its this easy and relaxed sexism is everywhere, from pink toys for girls and blue for boys at an early age, to padded bras for children and music videos that are sexualised and promote an image that women must show their breasts and dance provocatively in order to make it.

Our Sports Minister is suggesting there are girls sports and boys sports.  Surely there are just sports, some kids will like contact sports, some will like boxing, rugby, football, dance, snowboarding, rollerblading or athletics.  Some of these kids will be male and some female, we should be encouraging all of them to participate in whatever sports they enjoy.

I know there is a problem with teenage girls hitting an age where they drop out of sports, but rather than trying to funnel them into ‘feminine’ sports maybe its worth looking at the reasons why they stop?  Perhaps it is to do with a negative body image that has been drummed into them for years? I hated PE at school and the reasons were that I wasn’t particularly good at group/competitive sports.  I found it embarrassing to be in a big group and being the person who couldn’t do it and I also despised the PE kit, no one feels good in PE knickers…

I also find the idea that ballet or roller blading are ‘girly’ sports that are about you looking radiant really offensive.  Ballet dancers are committed, hard working athletes who devote their lives to perfecting their art.

And if you have ever seen a female roller derby you’ll know that these are strong women who are competing hard, I doubt their bruises and injuries are particularly radiant to the minister…

Sport is sport.  I think its really important to encourage youngsters to be healthy, if exercise becomes a habit at a young age it is more likely they will continue into adulthood.  But let’s encourage them to partake in physical activity that they enjoy.  If that is Zumba, then fantastic! Enjoy it, work out, love the benefits of your body being healthier and fitter, don’t do it because you want to look pretty.

Love Sam x