Saturday, November 08, 2008


This post is from an email I received from my friend Maro today. I think it is well worth sharing:

I am sending you an article that I find very interesting. No, it's not about the world politics, nor the local sale, yet it affects most of our lives and those of the world population (and no, by most I don't mean the merely 50%, but closer to 100).

Here are some quotes from the article:

"However, Basow and Braman (1998) have demonstrated that negative evaluations of women's body hair are not confined to 'excess' growth. In their study, participants, who were randomly assigned to watch a video-recording of the same bikiniclad woman either with or without visible body hair, judged the woman as less attractive, intelligent, sociable, happy, and positive when hairy than when hairless."

"As such, women's depilatory practices not only contribute substantially to the cosmetic industry, but reinforce the view that underpins all the body-changing procedures, from make-up application to cosmetic surgery: THAT A WOMAN'S BODY IS UNACCEPTABLE IF LEFT UNALTERED." (Please pay special special attention to this last sentece.)

"the cultural assumption that a 'properly' feminine woman would not produce facial hair at all (Brownmiller, 1984; Chapkis, 1986) necessitates not only its removal, but also the avoidance of any signs of removal (such as the 'five o'clock shadow' often evident on men's faces). As Freedman (1986) put it: "having 'unwanted' [facial] hair [is] shameful and removing it [is] equally shameful" (p. 222)."

"Feminist critics of normative femininity have long pointed to the ways in which women are socially required to expend time, energy, and money transforming their bodies to better fit the feminine ideal. The present study has documented some of the most taken-for-granted body-altering practices of our time. Our results testify to the work of femininity. The requirements of this work place women in a double-bind: trivialised for taking them seriously; treated as feminine failures for not doing so (see Bartky, 1998). By refusing to trivialise women's 'beauty' practices, then, we question the narrow definition of 'acceptable' feminine embodiment, which maintains--at the most 'mundane,' and, hence, insidious level--the message that a woman's body is unacceptable if left unaltered."