Sunday, 6 October 2013

Hair Again by Lynda Waterhouse

My previous post was about the effect a hair cut can have. This month I'm writing about hair again. This time its body hair.

 In the U.K around £25 million pounds a year is spent on hair removal products.  This ‘problem’ affects most women at some point in their lives. It can cause anxiety, depression and extreme self consciousness. And do we talk or write about it? Do we ‘eckers like! 
In the 1990’s I created a character called Lindsay Brown. She was the best friend of Bonnie Fitch and she was the girl with the moustache at school. She became Bonnie’s best friend. At first Bonnie says
‘I suppose I should be thankful that I don’t have a moustache to add to my problems like Lindsay Brown. Poor girl. She wanders around the school with her hand over her mouth, looking like she’s about to throw up. We sometimes bump into each other as we crawl along the edges of the corridors, apologising for ourselves.’
Bonnie and Lindsay become best friends and neither of them changes their physical appearance..
When I was a little girl my Mum would explain to me that my hairy legs were a good thing because it meant that I was an ‘outdoors person.’ As I loved animals and the countryside I happily accepted this explanation.
 As a teenager Patti Smith and Frida Kahlo became my role models. Deep down I was afraid that no boy could ever love a girl like me.  And so began the hair removal process that continues to this day. Even when I was going through my most radical feminist phase in the 1980’s I could not stop waxing or tweezing.
Dr Karin Lesnik-Oberstein is the editor of ‘The Last Taboo: Women and Body Hair’ is the first academic book to look at this subject. It took her a long time to find a publisher as the subject was considered too trivial or revolting.   
Kate Brook writing in the Royal Holloway student magazine sums up my feelings exactly when she says.
However illogical our obsession with hairlessness, it is so deeply embedded in the collective psyche that it goes unnoticed, unquestioned and unchallenged. But whether or not it will always be so remains to be seen, because what is perceived as beautiful or ugly has always been subject to change – perhaps shaving or waxing will seem as bizarre a practice to future generations as whitening the face or wearing corsets seem to us today. Before we can stop feeling ashamed of our body hair, however, we must first stop pretending it does not exist.’ 


Anonymous said...

Great post - I often feel self-conscious. Also, ironic as went to the Royal Holloway open day yesterday!

Penny Dolan said...

You're right, Lynda. It is a subject that's "silent" in Y/A books, I think, despite all the subjects that it's okay to include. Unless briefly mentioned as part of beauty prep for an event.

Catherine Butler said...

I wish it really was the last taboo! But it's certainly one that deserves exploding (or whatever one does with taboos to render them harmless). Great post.