Another community service announcement about body image.
I consider myself fairly enlightened and self-aware. Yet, there are still a lot of things I do simply because society.
We live in a culture where women are decoration. If you don’t believe me just watch TV or look at any magazine. Look at music videos, adorned with interchangeable scantily clad gyrating dancers. So many publications consider balanced gender representation to be a mix of well-dressed men and undressed women.
Is it any wonder then that women find it incredibly difficult to break out of the mindset that in order to be valuable they must look good? And that if there is nobody to look at them, there is no point making an effort?
In my younger days I was often told that I should wax my arms. Yes, I have hairy arms. No, I did not wax them. I did, however, shave my legs, shave my underarms, pluck my eyebrows and tidy my pubic hair. I still do some of these things.
But why? Even though it makes no difference to my own health or functionality, why do I feel the need to do this to my body? Especially when I don’t have anyone to impress?
I can’t go out in a sleeveless top without hairless underarms because I wonder what people will think. When I had a massage recently I had a moment of panic when I remembered that I had not shaved my legs in weeks and wondered what the masseuse must have thought.
At the pool I tell myself nobody will notice before I leave the change room in my bathers and hairy legs. It’s the middle of winter. And besides, they should be looking at my boobs, not my legs.
We have become so used to being commodified that we commodify ourselves. When I was doing the rounds of online dating I made sure to put up a full-body shot of myself to show that I was not fat. I thought that would give me an edge in a competitive flesh market.
So I resolve to be true to myself and not let the confines of what we have been trained to do to ourselves influence the way I keep myself. No more razors. No more waxing. I will probably still pluck my eyebrows. But the rest of me can grow wild and natural.
As long as I am happy with how I look, that is all that matters. I know that the hair is meant to be there.
Do any of you have the courage to do the same? If not, why? Do you worry about what others will think? Have you convinced yourself that it is unclean… I mean, has our culture convinced you of that? Will your husband leave you if you stop shaving your legs? Will men find you unattractive if you don’t get around with a full Brazilian? And if they do, is that your problem? Your responsibility? Do you really want to make yourself look acceptable for someone like that?
You are not an object for display. You are worth more than someone’s opinion. How you look does not define you. You are beautiful and anyone who judges you otherwise has the problem, not you.
Live for yourself. You are the only person who can make you happy.