While in the airport on one of my innumerable layovers. I happened across an interesting Time Magazine article entitled Body Hair is Natural. Society Thinking Otherwise is Dangerous .
Oh hello! I was tapping on my screen and zooming in to quickly read the text before the airport Wi-Fi petered out. The article was written by Professor Heather Widdows BD(Hons), PhD. who authored Perfect Me: Beauty as an Ethical Ideal . I was immediately intrigued, mostly because I couldn't see the connection between beauty and my understanding of ethics. According to my understanding ethics are the moral standard(s) by which societies, professions individuals conduct themselves. What does that have to do with beauty? Is beauty now judged as a standard of morality? If so... ooooowwweee…. I'm in trouble.
Widdows proposes that the natural hairy body is now seen as abnormal while the hairless body, has transcended mere desirability and leapt over ever changing fashion trends, to normal and natural status. Further, Widdows argues that we engage in health practices for beauty rather than health.
I get it. I raise my hand willingly because I consider my routine of shaving, threading, plucking etc and so on part of my daily up keep. I can't go out in a skirt or dress without shaving my legs. I've done it, don't get me wrong, but its not like I'm not slightly uncomfortable for like the first five minutes when I realize I forgot to run that blade over my legs as I lotion and potion them after my shower.
I think it's necessary to give yourself a "rest" every few months. When I say rest I mean, cease and desist with the shaving, plucking, threading, waxing etc. etc. and just let your body be. Why? Because its NATURAL.
People have asked me why I don' t just laser leg and underarm hair and "be done". My answer to that has been admittedly ridiculous. I begin in a high pitched "weeeeeellll.." and craft a tale mostly premised on some fancifully imagined Survivor-esq/desert island/Armageddon type scenario. This is how my mind works (shrug shoulders) I mean what if I need that hair to like protect against the raw elements of like I don't know - something?
All jokes aside, our body hair has a function. Yet we have declared war on our hair. all of our hair, underarm, pubic, leg, upper-lip, eyebrows, every square inch of our body except that which is on top our heads.
What are the functions of all that hair?
Body hair plays a very important role in regulating our body temperature.
Armpit hair serves as an important protective barrier against some of the most precious blood vessels in our body.
Pubic hair provides a cushion against friction that can cause skin abrasion and injury, protection from bacteria and other unwanted pathogens.
Eyebrows (aside from making us look glam, of course) are there to keep moisture out of our eyes when it’s raining or when we sweat. That arched shape helps divert liquid to the side of our faces, keeping
our eyes clear.
Beauty practices are, according to Widdows, indulgent and optional however, in Western society, we now see this hyper-grooming as necessary and required. Moral?
All that hair removal isn't actually necessary... its not even a hygiene function. Hygiene is something that is required to meet minimum standards, like washing one's tail feather and brushing teeth thoroughly and regularly to ward of rot, tooth decay and loss, rashes, infections, and disease ! Hair removal doesn't do any of that.
Where does the morality angle come in? Widdows argues that rightly or wrongly we value beauty not hygiene and do what we do for beauty maybe even disregarding hygiene if we truly look at the purpose of some of our body hair. "Doing beauty becomes a moral duty".
Hmmm... I don't know if I agree completely with Widdows theory but she has an interesting argument.
What do you think?