Friday, 13 July 2012

Body fuzz

He stays in town a few days a month meaning I have the luxury of the night to myself. I don't cook, maybe eating the kids leftovers or hoovering up a packet of crisps and pouring a glass of wine. It's my guilty pleasure night, and once the chores are finished I choose something to watch on iplayer, get into bed with the cats at about 8pm and watch crap telly. And I love it.

Last night I watched Cherry Healey's programme 'Can looks change your life?' believing I was in for a real trashy treat, vacuous, shallow and skin deep. I was surprised at the content and my reaction to it. For a main part of the programme Cherry focussed on our obsession with female body hair, or rather our disgust, our revulsion and complete denial that it is even supposed to be there. She asked men in the street if they would rather break a toe or sleep with a woman with hairy legs...they would rather break a toe. Blimey, I know it was TV and a small scientific study, but really, men would rather break a toe?

It struck a cord, being dark and of the hirsute kind I have always been ashamed at the fuzz on my body, I pluck and shave but only once have I resorted to a wax. It was this year in fact, before our monumental holiday to Cuba, I asked everyone I knew at the school gates about waxing and was pretty surprised that everyone had had it done and most still wax regularly. That is a whole lot of effort, money and pain. Anyway, I trotted off to the salon one cold crisp February morn, stripped and the beautician or waxer, whatever she was, said in no uncertain terms:

"If I was you, honey, I would get this lot lasered!"

Thanks. Am I that hairy?

She then proceeded to tell me tales of 16 year old girls asking for their entire muff hair to be removed, fanny hair, pubes, whatever you want to call it.....because, get this, their boyfriends don't like it.

So what on earth do we teach our girls? My lovely little furry children, P is especially dark and fuzzy and has leg hair that most grown women would whip off in an instant. I want them to feel confident in themselves, to love their bodies, to look after them and respect them, to not feel under pressure to conform. I think I am up against an impossible task, gender stereotyping starts early, like at birth, and my girls are already aware of what the beauty ideal is. And part of this 'ideal', I'm afraid, means nice smooth legs and no fluff under the armpits. Excuse me now while I take a shower and shave, ready for the weekend.

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