A couple of weeks ago, a dreaded but necessary trip to Primark etched itself onto my lunchtime agenda. I have to be honest, despite the occasional indisputable bargain and an unwavering devotion to their adorable Disney pyjamas, I loathe the place. But much to my dismay, my stiletto nails found themselves embedded into my tights two hours before an important client interview and thus a new pair was an essential purchase. If there’s one thing I loathe more than the absolute chaos of Primark, it’s a laddered pair of tights. After battling the hordes of shoppers to the lingerie department, I managed to grab myself a pair and make a swift dash for the checkout. But not before my eyes locked contact with the unshaven armpit of a woman as she reached for a blouse from its rail.
I immediately condemned myself for processing such an ignorant thought: “Somebody forgot to shave her pits this morning.” I was disgusted in my own ignorant attitude, as it dawned on me that such a narrow-minded brashness is precisely what is wrong with our society. It is an unfortunate fact that we still live in a society domineered by a strict set of guidelines, each dictating how each of us should look, dress and live. Society has formed an arbitrary ideal of beauty, one that consequently generates a lot of money for the industry. Now, fashion and beauty industries that have so long dominated our society are in a position to continue their reign, simply because so many of us have become explicitly conditioned by their propaganda.
It suddenly occurred to me that after being a woman for 20 years, I should really start to live like one. Why should we be so heavily disciplined about our own appearance and beauty routines? When did our natural bodily features and functions become unsanitary, signalling nothing more than a lack of hygiene?
I suddenly felt proud and even envious of the woman i’d been so quick to judge. It made me happy to think that she could love her body as nature intended it. She may have simply forgotten to shave and would be mortified to think that anybody had noticed. But she may have been a woman confident enough to stand against society’s expectations of her body, and for that she deserves a pat on the back. Each morning, I set my alarm precisely to dedicate at least 20 minutes to perfecting my cat eye, 10 minutes of delicately applying my mascara followed by a further 10 minutes of styling my hair. But am I doing this for me, or am I doing this because if I didn’t I would stand out from the crowd as somebody who simply cannot be arsed? There are days when I would love to sling my hair up into a topknot and throw on my comfiest joggers. Why do I consistently feel compelled to dress up?
Of course, we should take pride in ourselves. Whether that means dedicating time to our makeup routine or proudly leaving our body hair to grow, we should do whatever makes us feel beautiful and we should own it. At the end of the day, our own choices are going to bring us far more happiness than choices predestined for us by a capitalist society.
What do you think of the body hair debate?
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Until next time…