Friday, April 16, 2010

Hair In Strange Places

I've written before about the importance of men having a respectable face suit - beards, goatees, mustaches, sideburns and their ilk - but it seems like the New York Times has just recently woken up to the fact that women often have their own hair issues to deal with. Rarely do we get to experiment with facial hair, but we do have a ton of other hairy issues to address.

For instance, in the year 2010, it's standard issue to have a smooth underarm. Go back 100 years, and to the birth of the sleeveless dress, and you'll find that women had hairy pits. But a savvy promotional campaign and the endorsement of hairless ancient Greek sculpture (and seriously, can you even imagine how time-consuming and asinine carving out wiry little hairs for photorealistic sculptures would be?), we've come to a time when female underarm hair is decried as gross, or worse, French.

There was that whole Brazilian public hair thing, where women would wax the hair off their vaginas and then talk about it on Sex and the City. The hairstyle, or lack thereof, was standard issue in pornography, making it acceptable for men to be all "pffft" towards women who cultivated a more natural look. In the same way that I love beards, I can't deny a man's right to prefer a hairless vagina. But making it some sort of across-the-board standard for all women seems a little...unimaginative. Some men like a big hairy bush. Some men don't. Some women like having hair down there, and some don't. (And, as a side note, just because something is standard in porn don't mean it carries over into real life. I'm sure you could convince more women to wax their areas if more men had ten-inch penises and more trips to the Pottery Barn ended in a gangbang).

In any case, the NYT was all "Women! Armpits! There's hair there! Whaaaaaat? Gross!" which is something I think they do every spring. Writing's a bitch, eh? They pointed to an ancient photo of Julia Robert flashing some pitbush and then interviewed erstwhile Dresden Doll Amanda Palmer about her decision not to shave. Palmer was a little all over the place, claiming it was both a personal, non-political decision and that she did it for her fans, but I get the confusion.

Every time a women opts not to follow the regimented beauty path, there's the possibility that she's doing it for political reasons. Back in reality, however, the majority of the women I know who choose to leave one or more of the possibly smooth body areas downy do it because they either don't care either way, or they prefer the way it looks.

Preferring your pits to be smooth and smell like baby powder (and who decides on these deodorant flavours? Cucumber? Give me a break) is seen as a healthy, attractive option. Preferring them hairy seems to mean that you're a vegan co-operative bean farmer who worships the equinox and has named her son Macaroon. That you're smelly, or dirty, or a throwback the Neolithic era. It's decidedly not in line with the silky bitches in the fashion magazines.

Then again, who is? Okay, raise your hand if you're five-eleven and weigh 117 pounds. Keep them up if you have stick-straight hair - or perfect glossy curls. No acne? No stretch marks? No scars or chipped teeth? Symmetrical features? Delicate eyebrows? A clavicle you could use to slice cheese?

That's what I thought. And you can't buy those things either, just like shaving your pits isn't going to net you the life you want. There are other, more interesting things you can do with your underarms (like the tattoo I saw once in a magazine: this totally blase woman who had tattooed a vagina in one of her armpits, with a line of ants coming out of it. It was equal parts WTF, amazing and repulsive. I've been trying to Google that for, like, half and hour and I'm getting some horrible stuff). Amanda Palmer, come drink beer with my friends and I. You seem like a woman who could wax (or not) poetic on a number of different issues, grooming included. We can sit around and talk about real things, instead of what happens when a woman decides to forgo the razor.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

This World Is Old, I Want A New One

So, there seem to be terrible things afoot, generally speaking. Watching the Daily Show last night, I learned that the decision to sidestep the molestations that have been rampant in the Catholic church for the past, oh, three decades was endorsed by Cardinal Ratzinger, alias Pope Benedict. I'm no Pope - for one thing, his shoes come from Prada, while mine are decidedly Payless - but it's hard to believe in a church that says, "Hey, see that person over there, in the flowy robes? He's got a red phone to God." And that that same person would be all "meh" over systemic sexual abuse in his own church.

Also, it seems like many a flight out of Europe has been grounded because a volcano with the incredible handle of Eyjafjallajokull has decided to burp volcanic ash all over the Continent, pleasing science-folks and greatly irritating all those earth-bound Scotsmen who are now shaking their shaggy fists at the sky and vowing to "git yea, whoevair ye aire." This image provokes a great deal of giggling from your author, but I also understand the annoyance factor here is high. To be grounded in an airport, where there has been no fresh air pumped in since 1989, is the pits. Like, David Caruso-on-CSI bad.

Oh, also: earthquake in China. Many people dead. And the Polish president died in a plane crash. And apparently (and sort of unbelievably) Canadian politicos are partying with blow and whores, which, like....what?!

When I was thirteen, I read Gordon Korman's spectacular work of young adult fiction called Son Of Interflux. One of the characters, a genial high school junior named Phil, was constantly getting into art school scrapes - carving a wooden bust of Garibaldi, sliming bananas through a fan and shellacking them, and so on - the fallout from which was constantly destroying his faith. Phil was the same type of person who'd find a worm in a swamp, bring it home, and name it Keith. "Phil's faith was on a constant cycle of destruction and renewal." Testify, brother.

I myself have been having panic attacks: freak-outs that range in severity from turning gray at the dentist (I saw myself in the mirror. Nobody should have to wonder where her lips are) to a full-on weeping festivals. In the middle, there's a gamut of stupid shit: lightheadedness (that's my big one), shaking, sweating, feeling removed from your body, nausea, losing your ability to speak, dry mouth, and other delights. You can imagine that a person in the throes of one of these moments isn't inclined to make small talk over the canapes. Instead, they curl up under the buffet table, trying not to cry.

So, I've made myself a little fort under the buffet table. Some people I've let in: come hang out, give me online pep talks, watch me eat soup like I'm five years old. To some people I just say, "I'm feeling weird and anxious. If I need to leave, I'm just going to do that." Many people don't even get that much: I either sprint away like I'm being chased ("Come back! We just want to exchange social banalities!") or I slither away to the bathroom, and seem extraordinarily sketchy as I count to one hundred and try to calm the fuck down.

I might be making this up, but I read somewhere that, every so often, there is a cycle of rebirth. It happens on a micro scale and a macro scale. On a small scale, the rebirth pains might look like panic attacks; on the mid-level range, there might be some mystifying Canadian political shenanigans, and on the global, we get eruptions and earthquakes. This isn't some vengeful or apathetic God punishing us (although smiting the Catholics who touch little kids and then lie about it might be a good place to start with the avenging, yes?). I think it's a cycle. We need to push through the really hard times, because when we come out the other side, with all our new knowledge and muscles and patience, we're stronger. We're different.

Plus, we're all scrubbed and pink and we get to lie in a blanket for a minute, just breathing together.