Editor’s note: With the imminent graduation of our first Teen Talk columnist, Maria Proulx of Ledyard, the Times is looking for a new voice from the younger generation. Here is the first article from our new Teen Talk columnist. Cecile is a student at East Lyme High School and editor of The Viking Saga, the ELHS school newspaper.
Imagine Marilyn Monroe in her pink dress in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” – but with armpit hair. Try Cindy Crawford in her Pepsi ad with her signature denim shorts – but with hair on her legs. Imagine Kendall Jenner walking down the Victoria’s Secret catwalk, but with pubic hair.
Try to imagine any It Girl or sex symbol without her smooth, hairless skin. Body hair is never something that fits into the beauty standard in America. At least for women.
Body hair removal comes with myriad problems including razor burn, bleeding, skin irritation and not to mention pain. But why shouldn’t it hurt? Pain is our body’s way of protecting itself. Body hair, also stigmatized, is there for a reason.
It’s not dirty or disgusting. Whether for temperature regulation or protective purposes, it was given to the human body for a purpose. The idea that it is unhygienic is both sexist and false. The same thing considered normal for some is unhealthy for others. The only difference? Their sex.
Often choosing to shave for men is a fashion choice while for women it is a political choice. The hair is neither dirty nor unhealthy. In fact, the shaving process can cause bacterial infections, ingrown hairs, and other issues. It would be more hygienic not to shave.
In Korea, pubic hair was a sign of fertility and something to be desired, so much so that in the mid-2010s Korean women were getting pubic hair transplants. The problem is not with the hair itself, but with the connotations of society.
The original intention to start marketing razors for women is something that seems to be the root of all that is evil: money. In true American fashion, razor companies saw the potential to cash in on the women’s razor industry and began marketing them to female audiences. In these ads, they used slogans intended to embarrass women. And it worked.
From the start, big corporations have successfully capitalized on the hint that female hairiness is something to be ashamed of.
As a year-round competitive swimmer, I found myself at age 10 noticing new hair and feeling immense pressure to get rid of it. All the female figures in my life have done it. I felt the need to realize the only image of beauty I had ever been fed.
Freedom of choice is not always given to women. Girls should not be ridiculed for standards imposed on them.
The cycle of shame never really ended for me, and what I realized was that it was largely internal. The realization that I had forgotten to shave would come with immense embarrassment. Mortified, I tried to cover any kind of area that had hair.
I remember choosing to wear leggings in the hot, humid summer air rather than showing off my hairy legs.
How far I would go because I would be afraid of what people would think was far, and I wasn’t the only one. As my friends and I reflect on our experiences with puberty, the shame of not shaving was not specific to me.
Some of my friends remember that their parents had formed the idea of shaving as part of strict hygiene and that others had told them that “boys won’t like you” if they had hair on their faces. body.
So why is the desired look for women one that looks like children? It’s not always a question of beauty but of femininity. Often the fear of letting body hair grow stems from the fear of looking masculine.
Why should my femininity be defined by my leg hair? Society has too long established guidelines about what is feminine and what is not. As more progress is made in dismantling heteronormative norms, we need to understand the problematic nature of things seemingly as small as body hair.
Hair removal shouldn’t be a political choice, it should just be a matter of personal preference.
Women are real, not objects meant to meet your expectations. It shouldn’t be a girl’s burden to live up to the unnatural fantasy of what femininity is to others. It’s time to celebrate the many faces of female beauty, including those with a mustache.
Niantic’s Cecile Horst is a sophomore at East Lyme High School. Contact her at [email protected]