girls

You are currently browsing articles tagged girls.

Those of you who are new to this blog may not be familiar with the series of drawings that Toronto-based artist Julie Voyce has been doing especially for The Last Triangle. She’s finding her inspiration in what she reads here, and then lets her imagination roam, coming up with ideas and images that push boundaries.

I haven’t posted one of Julie’s images for some time now, but I am very pleased that I am able to feature one today.

In creating this image, Julie says she was inspired by something I wrote about virgin waxing — and her imagining what it would be like if all the kids who got virgin waxes as kids grew up to realize they wanted to re-embrace their body hair after all.

Julie writes:

Here it is! The Future! Newly Created Consumer Demand!

It is the year 2035. Millions of little girls were given the virgin wax treatment, and as they grew up, they found they really wanted to have pubic hair!

They became angry because they weren’t given a choice!

A hair dresser by the name of Steinberg Rosamund Lenoir (Rosy L is her nick-name) invents the fashion trend that becomes all the rage! Why have a little hair when you can have a whole lot, thanks to the miracle of super growth injections in any colour desired.

Just shoot yourself up anywhere you want to have fur (in any hue!) and watch that beautiful hair grow, grow, grow!

Pictured here: the distribution most women favour: a little bit of mystery, a little bit of cheek…a whole lot of elegance!

 

For more of Julie’s drawings, click on the Julie Voyce tag in the tag cloud to the left…

Tags: , , , ,

Those of you who read this blog regularly will know that (impending faculty strike aside) the end of my Master’s degree is in sight. I’ve been writing this blog as part of my research project, along with a weightier paper that is sort of bogging me down these days.

As passionate as I feel about the issues I feel lurk around the edges of discussions about body hair (issues of gender performance, self-esteem, sexuality, societal expectations on young women, etc etc etc), there are days when I just can’t find the will to get focused. “PUBIC HAIR!” I sometimes think to myself, “AHRG!”.

But then I get emails like this. And it all feels like it’s been (and continues to be) time well-spent:

I just wanted to write you a quick email to thank you for writing your blog.  I am a young woman going into my third year of university (also at Queen’s!) and pubic hair maintenance/removal is not something I’ve ever really seen or heard discussed before. I’m very glad I found the discussion on your blog.  I know I’ve internalised a lot of messages from magazines, movies and books about female pubic hair as unattractive and gross, and these messages made me very confused and insecure because I started to wonder what everyone else was doing ‘down there’, and about what I should be doing as well (and also, what guys expected). Your blog helped me to realize, though, that I’m not the only one feeling that stress/pressure, and also that the pressure to wax it all off is perverse, and unnatural, and very problematic.  Thank you for that!  Also, your blog helped me to bring up the topic of Brazilian waxes when my Mom and sister and I were on a road trip earlier in the summer!  It was the first time I’ve ever discussed pubic hair with anyone, and I know I wouldn’t have been able to bring it up if I hadn’t had your blog to reference. So thanks for that too! (PS, my mom was completely shocked about the popularity of Brazilian waxes and also that some guys refuse to have sex with women who have pubic hair).

Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing and for reminding me that it’s worth the effort. This is why we need to keep talking, writing, sharing. There’s still lots of work to be done!

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , ,

I’m going to keep things brief today because (as you may know if you’ve been following along) I’m trying to hunker down and get an academic paper written these days. Though it’s been a challenging exercise trying to streamline everything I’ve been reading/thinking/talking about in the last little while, it’s been interesting/exciting, too.

Today I’ve been re-reading a great article by Magdala Peixoto Labre called “The Brazilian Wax: New Hairlessness Norm for Women?” which was published in 2002. It’s a really smart piece — and though it’s not a new piece of writing, it really seems to support thing kinds of things I have been hearing from young women as part of my research. I’ve also been revisiting an article by Merran Toerien and Sue Wilkinson called Gender and Body Hair: Constructing the Feminine Woman (2003) which also has all sorts of interesting things to say.

One of the arguments I’ve mentioned (because it comes up again and again) as a reason that people are opposed to full pubic hair removal for women is because it makes them look like little girls. Now while I think the issue is a lot more complicated than that, I can certainly understand why there is a knee jerk reaction around it. It’s easy to see how hairlessness can be equated with youth, and as such, with the way little girls look before they become women.

As Toerien and Wilkinson write, “given that body hair may be understood both as a signal of (sexual) maturity, and as a symbol of masculine strength, the requirement for women to remove their hair may thus reflect the socio-cultural equation of femininity with a child-like status, passivity and a dependence on men”. (p. 338)

Labre writes this:

“By rendering women childlike, the Brazilian wax can be viewed as supporting women’s submissiveness, inferiority, and dependence on men. At a first glance, the Brazilian wax may seem to increase women’s control over men by enhancing female attractiveness and power of seduction. Instead, the practice reinforces the idea that women’s main role is to attract men while at most providing women with access to secondhand power or power achieved via control of men.” (p. 126)

I think I’ll leave it there for now and get back to the paper… but there’s lots here to think about. I always love hearing people think about the stuff I post — so please feel free to comment or send me an email.

 

 

 

Tags: , , ,

Just because this blog is about pubic hair doesn’t preclude me from writing about other kinds of body hair, right? After all, the forces that encourage women to remove their leg and armpit hair are more-or-less the same as those that are, increasingly, marketing pubic hair as unkempt and dirty. We’ve constructed body hair as masculine — which means that women are required to remove that hair in order to define themselves as feminine (ie. in contrast to men).

One of the things I’m interested in is how young women learn what is required of them when it comes to partaking of these body practices. Obviously, a young woman doesn’t start her depilation practice with her pubic hair. Presumably, she crosses over from girl to woman with each newly adopted body practice. She learns from her mother, her peers, and from the media (where she is bombarded with hundreds of images of ‘perfect’-looking women every day) about what is expected from her.

I remember the day one of my friends showed me her newly shorn legs. I was in grade seven and, at the time, hung out fairly regularly with a couple of vaguely nerdy girls. One, Eleni, was Greek. As such, the hair on her legs was relatively dark and coarse. At this point, it was still the late 1980s. We didn’t yet have the Internet. In some ways, the way we lived our lives was still relatively sheltered.

But one day, Eleni showed up at school with hair-free legs. We were a little in awe. What had it been like, we asked? How had she known what to do?

Interestingly, rather than making me go out and do the same, Eleni shaving her legs raised all kinds of questions in me, the budding feminist. Before I could shave my own legs, I wanted to know WHY I was supposed to. WHO decided that I needed to shave my legs? Why did I need to shave mine when the boys weren’t expected to do the same?

Back when I was a kid, we didn’t have the Internet to help us answer those kinds of questions. But things are different now.

I recently came upon a fascinating (though kinda horrifying) series of videos geared at helping young women (and their mothers) figure out all the basics around the question of how and when to start shaving. The video series, called Gillette Venus Shaving Tips (there are eight in total), feature an excessively perky young host, Gabby who says things like “shouldn’t I be as hairfree as I am carefree?” about her decision to start shaving.

My “favourite” video (#2) is when Gabby realizes she is “animal hairy” at a slumber party (“It was all I could see. It was all I could think about. I couldn’t think about how great my toenails would look in Pink Taffy nail polish. I couldn’t listen to Kristen talk about how she texted Tom in study hall. All I could see was…that…hair.”) She advises that you’re ready to start shaving “whenever you start to feel uncomfortable about NOT shaving.”  (That’s right: start the body obsession stuff ASAP)

Here’s the video: http://www.gillettevenus.com/en_US/goddess_central/videos/when_to_start_shaving/index.jsp

These are merely mini Gillette ads packaged up neatly to sell products by honing in on insecurities (tip #6: Choose a Venus razor). Hello, brand loyalty? Get ’em while they’re young…

 

 

 

Tags: , , ,