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So I don’t know about the rest of you, but I missed last night’s Much Music Video Awards. Fortunately, ye ol’ Internet did not. That’s how I know about Lady Gaga’s pubic hair stunt.

Evidently, the pop music super star sang her mega-giant-super-popular hit, “Born This Way” while sporting bright blue patches of faux fur in her armpits and on her crotch. The pubic hair was attached to her leggings in an over-the-top swath of blue curls.

Her backup dancers also spotted less gregarious fuzzy triangles over their crotch areas – only theirs were more naturally hued. They did, however, have unshaven armpits.

Here’s a video:

So, a couple of questions: obviously Lady Gaga is a big star who is known for her over-the-topness and her aversion to traditional pop-star beauty (ie. being pretty and demurely sexy).

Is she a) daring women to embrace their body hair by making a big show with faux blue hair (though while not actually sporting any obvious natural body hair of her own) or b) is body hair on a woman now seen as so incredibly off-putting that it’s now a crazy bold stunt to dare to wear it, even if it’s fake? The kinds of stunt that’s in-line with the other freaky (non-pretty) things that Lady Gaga likes to embrace?

I’ll quote Dodi Stewart here, writing about the stunt on Jezebel (http://jezebel.com/5813568/lady-gagas-award-show-routine-involved-exposing-blue-pubic-hair)

“She’s definitely interested in defying what we’ve come to expect from a pop star. Female singers in the Top 40 usually go out of their way to be as traditionally sexy, pretty and perfect as possible. Their trappings are the things associated with ideal femininity: Long hair, high heels, clear skin, symmetrical face, skirts and dresses. Gaga deliberately deforms her face with prosthetic bones, and while she does wear heels, they are more of the Frankenstein’s monster/McQueen lobster claw variety, not designed for sex appeal. And since modern ladies are supposed to be hairless of pit and pube, a pop star would never, ever show up on stage with pit hair. So Gaga’s spitting in the face of convention, sure. Only: Wouldn’t the statement have been more effective if the pit hair had been real?”

Nicely said.

 

 

 

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So this week, the internet was (very mildly) abuzz over a new (supposed) trend in penile adornment: pejazzling. Gawker, the popular celebrity news website reported that you can now ‘Vajazzle’ your penis. Read that story here:

http://gawker.com/5803380/pejazzling-now-you-can-vajazzle-your-penis

(and hey- if that wasn’t enough for you, here’s an image you won’t soon forget:)

http://www.refinery29.com/you-know-vajazzling-well-get-psyched-for-pejazzling

For those of you who don’t keep tabs on what the Swarovski crystal people think you should be doing with your nether region, here’s the idiot’s guide:

‘Vajazzling’ is the practice of waxing away your pubic hair only to have it replaced by stick-on crystals in various patterns. Word is that this strange phenomenon is gathering something of a following (at least in North America), with fans apparently declaring that practice makes them feel like they have a sparkly secret hidden beneath their briefs.

For anyone not up on their useless pop culture, Vajazzling first hit the big time when actress Jennifer Love Hewitt appeared on Lopez Tonight, an American talk show, to promote her new biography (Jan 2010). There she famously told Lopez and the audience about having a friend Vajazzle her “precious lady” when she was trying to get over a nasty break-up. Love Hewitt made headlines by declaring that it “shined like a disco ball” , later declaring that all women should “vajazzle their va-jay-jays”.

Got two minutes to spare? This will get you all caught up:

Word is that the stick-on crystals last about five days, and that women who wear ‘em feel all kinds of special-and-sparkly.

(Don’t believe me? http://www.theluxuryspot.com/2010/02/23/i-got-vajazzled-and-had-a-camera-crew/ )

I don’t think there’s anything new I can add to this conversation on Vajazzling. After all, in a culture where women are forever being convinced that their intimate bits are gross and dirty, it makes perfect sense that we’d devise a product/service that could make everything “prettier” and more sparkly. After all, girls like sparkly things, right? right? Maybe if our vulvas are sparkly we’ll like them better, too!

(And come to think of it, maybe that’s why men are being encouraged to get in on the sparkle-fication, too…)

Speaking of which:

Hilariously, artist Julie Voyce had bedazzled some boy bits long before the splashy news about Pejazzling. Here’s the evidence:

 

 

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There were some great comments in response to yesterday’s blog — thanks to everyone who contributed to the conversation (see comments). I am so fascinated by this conversation about (as Amy L. writes) “how we internalize both the experience of being viewed AND the knowing that we are socialized to being viewed.”

The notion of being-looked-at-ness is so interesting when applied to pubic hair, because it raises all kinds of interesting questions. There is a tension (as Lara writes) to being aware of the “constructed, objectifying and demeaning expectations on female bodied people,” but then feeling emotionally vulnerable lest we not comply.

It is a conversation that lends itself so readily to discussions around body hair grooming, and particularly to pubic hair (because of its association with a part of the body women may already feel vulnerable about).  It’s a real chicken-vs-egg situation. I talked to an esthetician recently who said that though many women initially start having their pubic hair whisked away because it’s what their partners (predominantly male) prefer, they eventually learn to prefer their bodies that way and then start doing it “for themselves” (more from that interview will be posted here soon).

Now young women who resist the call to do away with it all are being seen as strange, old-fashioned and (possibly) dirty and unkempt. Even though humans have been tending to their body hair in some form or another for eons, it’s interesting when things seem to shift dramatically at once in a particular way.

Body hair removal is such a fascinating topic because while it is ubiquitous among North American women, it is so rarely commented upon (except in the case of women NOT complying — and then it’s headline-making, isn’t that right Julia Roberts?)

Julia Roberts at the 1999 premiere of Notting Hill -- her armpit hair nearly upstaged her work on the film

But the fact is, that North American women didn’t always shave their armpits. Nor was leg-shaving always de-rigeur.

In fact, according to an article by Susan A. Basow called “The Hairless Ideal: Women and Their Body Hair” (1991), body hair removal wasn’t commonplace among American women until after 1915. That’s when “The Great Underarm Campaign” began. Gillette was marketing a new razor specially designed for women: the “Milady Decollete”.

A 1915 advertisement for the Gillette "Milady Decollete"

As Basow writes:

“Most ads were instructional and informed women that the new dress styles (sleeveless or very sheer sleeves) made removing underarm hair important since visible hair not growing on the head was “superfluous,” “unwanted,” “ugly,” and “unfashionable.”

My presumption is that until Gillette started to tell them that their bodies as-is were problematic, most women were perfectly fine with their armpit hair.

Psst. Anyone need a bikini razor? You sure? (see my previous blog post for more).

 

 

 

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