It seems the latest disaster to strike the world is not the trampling of a Wal Mart employee on Black Friday, nor the country’s economic crisis, nor any of a number of truly horrifying things I could dwell on this fine day.
Because you see, Beyonce dared to show the world her stubbly pits. She is now this nation’s shame. It’s a fashion faux pas. She http://rnbdirt.com/beyonce-armpit-hair-spoils-cadillac-records-premiere/14146/ the Cadillac Records premiere. She’s nasty. I actually heard this on the radio news this morning. We haven’t had a scare like this since Julia Roberts showed her hairy pits and the world stopped spinning on it’s axis…. oh, wait – the world kept turning.
Sarcasm aside, I have no quarrel with women and girls who rid themselves of underarm and leg hair. To each her own. I, however, don’t shave. I don’t see the point: it’s uncomfortable, I find it to be both a waste of time and money and seriously? Good grooming has nothing to do with whether or not one shaves her armpit and leg hair. Again, I’m not on a crusade to tell women not to do it. But could we hairy women get some of the same respect?
And maybe it would be helpful for us to remember (or learn the first time) that the reason shaving pits became a cultural norm associated with cleanliness, good grooming and femininity has nothing to do with any of that (because I maintain that I am clean, well groomed and have my own brand of femininity) but has everything to do with commerce – selling razors and depilatories to women, and along with that selling a particular view of beauty and real womanhood.
…..Pete Cook of Chicago has sent me a 1982 article from the Journal of American Culture by Christine Hope bearing the grand title “Caucasian Female Body Hair and American Culture.”
The gist of the article is that U.S. women were browbeaten into shaving underarm hair by a sustained marketing assault that began in 1915. (Leg hair came later.) The aim of what Hope calls the Great Underarm Campaign was to inform American womanhood of a problem that till then it didn’t know it had, namely unsightly underarm hair.
To be sure, women had been concerned about the appearance of their hair since time immemorial, but (sensibly) only the stuff you could see. Prior to World War I this meant scalp and, for an unlucky few, facial hair. Around 1915, however, sleeveless dresses became popular, opening up a whole new field of female vulnerability for marketers to exploit.
Read more here.
Ay yi yi. Are there not more important things to get worked up over? Or is it really that culturally important to police women’s bodies? Yeah, I know. OK.