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?
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.