Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Furze of Fuzz.

SugarButch (which I say out loud every time I read it because I LOVE saying those two words together, gives me a brain to crotch tingle) yesterday and A Place to Draw Blood have me thinking about body hair today.

If you haven't been reading me for awhile you probably aren't aware of just how much I love and talk about my pubic hair.

If you don't want to go read all those I'll give you the quick version. I Love and Covet pubic hair. No really I do. I really seriously fantasize about having a big gorgeous salt and pepper 70's porn style bush. When people ask that stupid fucking question, "what's one thing you would like to change about your body" invariably more pubes is the thing I think of.

It will never happen.

I am not as hirsute as I might like.

I don't have political reasons for how I keep my body hair. I have (right this instant) a little furze of hair on my legs. A little stubble in my armpits, no mustache since I creamed it the other day. But why?

Frankly no matter what politics someone assigns to my hair or lack of for me it's never been about that. It's more about I may or may not feel like doing for my own pleasure or as the case may be displeasure.

When I was a wee single bi girl on the prowl, (and very naive) I ran across a lot of people who were appalled by my pubic hair. The very fact that I even had any without apology or explanation boggled them which in turn left me boggled. I am of the opinion that until I am classified as a reptile I don't see the harm or shock value in having fur.

I am also a very tactile person.

I really enjoy the various textures along my body. I like the slightly rough fluff of my pubes, I like the whispy fluff on my shins. I have one particularly thick hair that grows off and on under my belly button and when it's there I like to play with it. I do pluck hairs off of my face. Mostly because I don't like how they feel and I am really prone to twisted ingrowns that hurt a lot and I don't like that. I don't like spots on my chin or neck hurting because of one twisted skinny little hair.

Now aesthetically on other humans I do prefer some sign of hair. Pubes, some armpit fuzz, a missed spot on a leg of a lady. It's just one of those things. I like signals that a human has been through puberty and is in fact a mammal.

What I have never connected with my own body hair is how I feel about gender. Save for a really brief attempt when I was a teenager at baby butchness it just doesn't resonate for me.

Which is to say that for me, hairiness or lack of hairiness isn't so much a gender expression as it is a touchy feely expression.

I'm sure I could put that more clearly but that's what it feels like in my head.

From body hair let's go to the hair on my head.

Like pretty much every other black woman I know, I have had a long and varied history with my hair. I used to have a serious sense of otherness when it came to my hair.

As a young child I had really really long hair. As in down to my ass long.

I was often met with reactions I didn't understand from pretty much everyone. People don't (sadly) realize that yes, black people can have long semi straight hair. Back then my hair was natural and up until I was about 8 or so was fairly straight.

I have never in my life had curly hair. My hair was silky straight as a toddler then wavier as I got older.

I was ruthlessly and mercilessly teased by older black kids. I can't tell you how many times I had my ponytails yanked, strangers trying to pull out extensions that didn't exist. I had a girls mother put her fingers all the way into my hair (I wore it in buns then too) and then pronounce that I must be "part white".

Now I was actually quite a bit darker chocolate than I am as a grown woman. I did not understand why people would say things like that to me. Black people behaved as if I'd done something wrong and committed some kind of betrayal. I spent a lot of time privately hurting.

White people weren't so mean. Most were a little confused, or fascinated. I remember many times people stopping my Mom to ask her about it.

As I got older I learned a deep sense of embarrassment about my hair. So I started getting it cut. And not taking care of my hair.

Fast forward a few years.

I was 16 and had bought the most beautiful hair dye I'd ever seen. This beautiful shade of aubergine. I had been dying my hair various shades of dark brown and dark red for a few years by that point but that color was one of the first I ever really loved.

At the time I was still very into my big puffball bangs (tacky but I loved it) and my bangs glowed in the sun and for the first time I was very very in love with my hair.

A few years later I started hearing more and more militancy surrounding hair styles. I was often praised and treated sweetly by local black folks when I was sporting braids. Then when my chemically straightened hair was out, lectured and frowned at.

Neither then nor now, does the state of my hair (oh my head, on my crotch, on my legs etc) have jack shit to do with any of the following:
  • Internalized self hatred. Let me reiterate this once more, and please for the last time I LOVE being a black woman. I would not change it for anything. Despite all the hardships.
  • A betrayal of feminism. An acceptance of the Eurocentric beauty standards status quo, A sigil of my queerness, A renunciation of my femininity etc. Barking up the wrong tree with that one.

  • An attempt to hide my blackness, decrease my visibility as a black woman, etc. Quite literally short of a fuckton of skin bleach and shitloads of plastic surgery I will never, ever look like anything other than a black woman.

  • I am more than uninterested in politicizing my aesthetic likes and dislikes. I will not demonize anyone for choosing to grow leg hair or relax their hair. I will not participate in this sort of thing because, I think it's counter productive and plain ugly behaviour.

    I will not participate in scare tactics, faux feminist finger pointing, absurd go rounds debating the sexiness or not of mammalian furry decoration, slut bashing, or any other means of squashing the development of individual people because I might not like their aesthetic or personal choices.

    Fuck that right in the eye.

    I am not the droids you are looking for.

    Also while I'm on the rant train.

    Can we talk for a moment about a few things that bother me about the way people treat and discuss pubic hair? Yes right back to the crotch.

    Okay for the record there is absolutely not a goddamn thing that is unclean, unnatural, horrific, or otherwise evil about pubic hair. Or hair in general.

    Human beings are mammals as I mentioned and one of those telling characteristics of mammals is, fur. Hair.

    Also, can we please PLEASE for the love of everything cute and fluffy stop equating being feminine or female identified with being hairless?

    I am more than sick of it. Really.

    There is no one holy grail of a physical trait (that is largely determined by a genetic roll of the dice and/or the aforementioned shitload of plastic surgery) that absolutely means a female identified person is the most feminine of them all.

    Femininity is as diverse a thing as the vast number of female identified humans are diverse on the planet.

    As I keep saying over and over, no group of seemingly alike people have a monolithic experience or expression of that experience.

    I think I'm done frothing.

    In other hair news, I still hate wearing bangs as I've discovered today.

    That's all.

    Homo Out.


    Piffle said...

    When my little girl got head lice at school last year, I was fascinated to read that black people are much less likely to get head lice than whites or hispanics, the difference in hair seems to be why.

    Glad you've found a way to love your hair.

    Flirting with Fandom said...

    Damn, but I loved this post. I actually ended up leaving one of the feminist lj communities I was in because there was so much drama and judgment surrounding what people did with their body hair.

    Anonymous said...

    I grew up in the early days of Playboy (1950s) when pubic hair was actually the forbidden fruit, which is probably why I have always thought it to be erotic. I outgrew Playboy a long time ago, and in fact the older I get the better real women look to me, and IMO, real women have hair down there.

    Anonymous said...

    Pube Judgementalism drives me insaaaane. I can see functional arguments for depilation, and I'm not going to argue with anyone's personal aesthetic, but sanitary? Wash your business and it's not an issue! Arrrrrgh.

    Pynx said...

    I love this post! I feel the same way about body hair...what makes it disgusting? It's obviously not THAT dirty, or all the men who are allowed to KEEP their body hair would be rotting and stinking all over the place.
    And while we're talking about female quantification- I am going to say this as a woman with curves- everyone stop saying "real women have curves". You're totally negating the millions of women who aren't lucky enough to be overweight.
    Anyway, awesome blog, you're going on my Google Reader. :D

    Anonymous said...

    I love my pubic hair and any woman's as it is something my spouse and I can bond together with.

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