Week 4; January 27th- Feb 2nd Blog Entry #1 (Done by L).

Don’t Beat Around the Bush

My ears are pierced, I’m wearing nail polish, and my hair is braided…..my legs are not shaved; it’s winter, give me a break. Have I lost all control over my own body by doing these things? I don’t think so, but it is difficult to determine how much free will we have when it comes to all of these areas because we are the ones who ultimately choose to wax, pierce, cut, hide, shave, and cover ourselves. I’m not going to blame somebody else for me going out, buying Veet, and literally burning the hair off of my body, but  considering how much I dislike actually doing it, there must be a greater reason for why so many of us modify their body’s natural form.

We have control over what we do with our own bodies, but I think we feel more pressure to do what is considered the popular thing because of what we see portrayed as desirable. Most of the things that we do cut, shave, pierce, wax, hide, and cover are normally copies of things we see in media and popular culture, specifically in ads trying to sell a product or lifestyle. The thought process is, if we mimic the images that we see of women and men who are considered beautiful, we will be able to attain their level of perfection.

According to a recent poll done by Huffington Post, 52 percent of women use 1-4 products when getting ready for their day in the morning and 54 percent of men don’t use anything (Rebecca Adams, “This Is Why It’s More Expensive to Be a Woman”). It is literally more expensive to be a female, and unfortunately buying all the products for one’s hair, skin, and nails, doesn’t end there. It’s still expected that people will get their hair professionally cut, their nails done, and other “necessary” things such as facials. These things are all enormous pains to deal with and take time, yet we do them because it would be socially unaccepted to see things that are regularly shaved, plucked, or waxed with hair on them. The only reason that American Apparel’s mannequins were so conspicuously noticed, blogged about, and on the news is because they were sporting visible, bushy pubic hair, which is an unquestionably uncommon image “(Gothamist, American Apparel Now Sporting Full Bush”).

The case of the American Apparel mannequins is far more personal than an ad about shampoo because there is a greater focus on people’s intimate preferences in a more taboo body location. I think that this article is relevant because it sparks the question, do we do alter all of the things that we do because of our agency and control over our bodies or is it because of social pressures to alter them? I think that there are a certain amount of specific options for people to choose from and they have the free will to make their choice from the social accepted options. Have you ever thought about the correlation between almost never seeing bush images or advertisements on models and the fact that it is socially unaccepted as a style?brazilian

Now it might not be considered complete free will if the people making decisions can only pick from socially accepted ones, but they could grow their hair if they wanted to, it’s just not as common. When people make their decisions, I don’t think that they say,” What’s the most accepted and gender specific way for me to groom myself? ”, but they may unconsciously present themselves with styles that answer that question. An example of this is if a gorgeous girl is out and all of a sudden she raises her arm and she has the equivalent to a beard under her arm, it is an instant turnoff. This girl has the choice to shave her arms if she wants to and by not, she is acting on her free will, but she is also making a choice that is not socially acceptable and is instantly deemed effeminate.

Although it is arguable that it’s easier to be a male because they have less to alter about themselves in order to be accepted, I think that many men feel the same social pressure to pick an accepted style for their “manscaping”. As far as I understand, bush isn’t a popular trend for women OR men. One positive quality about manscaping and waxing pubic areas is they are generally cleaner afterwards, but if you don’t want to pay thirty dollars minimum to have hot wax spread on your vagina and then ripped off, it’s understandable. I realize that the positive qualities, such as confidence that comes from what we do cut, shave, and wax can make us feel that way because of its connection with the images that we are surrounded by every day that are associated with sexy. What we want to do with our own bodies should be one hundred percent up to us, and not just what we think will be socially accepted. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in reality where if you don’t select one of the accepted styles you will be judged and considered unusual. Manscaping and waxing, whatever and however you choose to alter your body, or not should be one hundred percent up to you, as should all things that pertain to one’s self, regardless of what is the accepted norm.

However, I would be stoked if women shaving their legs would go out of style. I fully support that.

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4 Comments

  1. Week 4; January 27th- Feb 2nd Blog Comment/Response #1 (Done by S).

    “Don’t beat around the bush”, a witticism that had me laughing because of the pun BUT very true!!!! I agree that we (both men and women) should have free will over our bodies. They do belong to us and the choice to wax, pluck or shave something at some point comes down to us standing in the bathroom poised and ready to groom. The question you pose is “why”? The question posed by the American Apparel ad is not only “why”? but also “are you ok with this when you look at it?” The social issue is conformity; conforming to expectations that tell us there are places and parts on our bodies that ‘should’ look a certain way and if they don’t you’ll be noticed, critiqued, and treated differently as a result of it. I believe there was a very volitional decision made in choosing American Apparel as the storefront window to express social comment through the mannequins. The fact that American Apparel caters to “hipsters” is profoundly important because hipsters encompass young adults in society. They embrace independent thinking and progressive politics and voice beliefs that are counter-culture. Charney’s mannequins take a step into the arena of body modifications and visually remind us of practices that we engage in daily, weekly, monthly; perhaps without even thinking about why we’re doing it. I don’t suppose the mannequins will be taking their show on the road, appearing soon at a Victoria Secrets window near you.

    PS I stand amongst you hoping that shaving ones legs will go out of style.

    – S.

  2. This blog raises many interesting points regarding societal pressures to conform to certain standards. One point that particularly stuck out to me was about people having the free will to choose a certain look for themselves, so long as it is socially acceptable and implicitly agreed upon by those in their social circles. However, I would like to take this one step further: can it be called ‘free will’ at all if your options are restricted to what those around you deem appropriate? Isn’t free will about having absolute autonomy in your choices? Free will in its purest involves no partialities or variances. For these reasons, it appears this blog has detected precisely what is missing in society today, which is the ability to be free.

    Your point about unconsciously conforming to a certain societal standards got me thinking more about this. It is now truly impossible to tell whether somebody is being free in their choice, because it is possible that they subconsciously consider social approval when electing hair removal or clothing style.

    American Apparel’s mannequins are somewhat revolutionary. They are a reminder that trends come and go, and to never conform. These mannequins challenge a normalcy in our society that wasn’t so thirty years ago, showing the public that they can be who they want to be.

    – M

  3. I loved you opening lines; it captured my attention right away and left me laughing too! I really like the way it felt like you are talking to your reader, and being very relatable and easy to understand and agree with. It is very true what you were saying about how we compare ourselves to those who are considered beautiful. Pop culture has a huge effect on society in that way. They make us think it is our own idea and preference to have shaved legs or highlighted hair or anything, but pop culture has drilled it into us that if we want to be beautiful, that is what we have to look like. Your statistics proving that it is more expensive to be a woman was also very interesting, I can definitely see that from the extensive line of ‘necessities’ that you described that women think they need. I agree that we should be fully in control of what we do with our bodies, free of judging and going against the norm, because who decided what is normal?

    -R.

  4. Your blog really captures the effect internal and external factors have on society to conform or not to body modifying. I had never really considered it before, but I definitely agree that it is essentially more expensive to be a woman in respect to daily pampering and buying products. It is actually very absurd how expensive beauty products have become over the years because companies know women will continue to buy them. Quite the evil team has been formed; ads in the media increase the pressure to meet societal standards of beauty, ultimately bringing us to buy more products, meanwhile product prices are increasing knowing purchases will still be made. It’s unfortunate that that’s where reality stands right now. What is also unfortunate is how little free will we truly have in this area. Like you said, we may have choice over what product we use, but for the most part, we really aren’t given an evenly matched alternative to not following the norm. Yes one can choose to not shave, wax, cut, or pierce them; but that will most likely target them as odd, unusual, even gross, which are difficult labels to cope with.

    – J.

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