Free the bush…

… or as my future feminist movement will be called, Free the Foof!

So I went to a very lovely wedding a few weeks ago, I had my outfit all sorted, in fact I’ve worn it to every wedding I’ve been to this year, it’s my 2013 wedding outfit. Nice dress, a hat (I was hoping would look a little ‘vintage 50s’ but that I fear ended up looking rather more ‘modest 80s’), red shoes, the whole kit and caboodle. And as I was readying myself for the big event, scrubbing myself shiny in the shower I realised that I had forgotten to pack my razor. “Ah well” I thought, “It doesn’t matter, this is the north, I’ll wear tights.” Then as I continued to cleanse myself of all dirt I noticed (with some alarm) that actually my armpit hair had grown to such a length that it could have been mistaken for small kitten. At that point it looked like I should have been using shampoo and conditioner not shower gel to clean that particular area of my body.

In my last blog I did mention that I have an aversion to shaving, in fact it’s not so much an aversion as a complete lack of caring. Now, how one looks after their bodily hair has often been related to one’s political, or more specifically feminist values, I know this because I religiously listen to Woman’s Hour on Radio 4 and they say so. Can you be a feminist (or at least a good one) if you dye your hair? Can you be a feminist if you shave your armpits, legs, face or… other places?

In my case I’ve never been good at hair maintenance of any kind, I’m too impatient (and get up too late) to dry my hair, I only ever need to buy razors on leap years and I very much take the ‘Secret Garden’ approach to my, ehem, feminine upkeep. However, this has actually worsened in recent years, partly because I accidentally shaved a two and a half inch strip of flesh off my ankle during my first year at uni (by the way, running into your new house mates’ room, soaking wet covered in only a hand towel and a lot of blood, is an excellent ice-breaker) but partly because I am loved by a wonderful man who couldn’t care less whether I am hairless or otherwise. I feel attractive and sexy and loved and wanted with all my hair perfectly intact, and in abundance (as is my genes and colouring dictates). Which poses the question, am I feminist if I don’t shave my hairs because of the love of a man?

Well why does anyone else shave their body bits? To appear more attractive to their chosen sex? Because it makes them feel good about themselves? Hygiene reasons? Pressure from the spewing of modern media pressuring all women to look fictional? I’m pretty sure which one I think it is. Don’t get me wrong, I love the feeling of a silky smooth leg. I like it so much that I tend to rub my legs together after shaving which results in me adopting a very odd walk for the rest of the day, but that only ever happens around once every quarter.

But when confronted with the little kitten under my arm I too caved. I searched high and low for a razor and rid myself of all armpit hair (or as much as was possible from the weird angle one is forced to adopt when armpit shaving). I didn’t want people to think that I was dirty, because such is the pressure on women to look how society says they should look, that I would have been perceived as not quite clean if the hair that naturally grows on me and every other woman in the world had remained intact. It is now more surprising to see the natural state than the un-natural one.

Take for example, Victoria Secret models, who have recently been gracing every shiny-sheeted publication in Christendom; why has nobody ever said when looking upon their almost alien forms “wow, that look’s weird”? Because to my mind these women are freaks! Beautiful freaks! Nobody actually looks that way, but women look at these abnormally lovely creatures and think “oh, that’s how women should look, I’ll try to look like that too then.” This is a minority of people who were born all odd and have a large team of highly trained and experienced professionals to help them achieve the look of being fictional, so why are the majority of women trying to achieve it all by themselves?

My sister made the very valid point that to be a feminist is to have complete control over oneself and ones body and if that means shaving simply because you like to shave then great and I agree, but for all the women who look upon every single other women used for the advertising of anything and everything ever, ever, ever and think, “bodily hair is obviously highly unattractive” and then spend every shower time they have running sharp objects all over their skin, then I say NO! Stop razoring yourselves! It took feeling finally comfortable with my natural form to figure this out, which was, admittedly helped a lot by the love of a good person. But I was not helped into my state of happy furriness by the approval of a man, just a good person, who waded through all the ridiculous aesthetics of being a women and said “sod em, you look gorgeous.”

Everybody’s different, I am the kind of woman who got excited the other day because I realised that my pants where big enough for me to tuck both my vest and shirt into, which helps a lot with the annoying tucky-inny bit that comes with wearing high-waisted trousers. But just in case you’re the kind of woman getting out of bed 15 minutes early every day in order to shave your legs, I wanted to be person to say to you “sod em, you look gorgeous. Put that razor down and go and have a big bowl of porridge instead. It’s winter after all and you’ll need all the insulation you can get… plus porridge is a warming bowl of slow releasing energy and a much better way to start the day than hair removal.”

I’m not infallible to the pressures of beauty, I still shave or trim too, but I think what I’ve spent 1,110 words trying to say is, don’t worry so much, being hairless isn’t a compulsory requirement to being sexy, so don’t worry about it so much.

“Is that your handbag on the table?”…

… the Rules of Mama G.

The other day I was chatting with my new colleagues and mentioned that my mother has a few rules that she taught my sister and me, which we generally tend to live by (with a few exceptions – don’t tell). It was only when I started answering the questions of my new and slightly bemused colleagues that I started to realise they might be a little odd (the rules, not my colleagues – mostly). So I’ve decided to write them down, I think it’s a good to document these things, for posterity – and so that people can see me in context (I find I make a lot more sense that way – ex-boyfriends have said so).

Me and My Mama
Mad Mama and Me!

Mama G’s List of Rules for Life

  • Gin and Tonic is a good drink, Vodka and Tonic is a drink for women with loose morals.
  • Never shave above your knees (it took me until I was 19 to break this one, however I have now given up shaving – it’s winter, I need the extra warmth).
  • White wine with soda water/sparkling water is fine, white wine with lemonade is common.
  • Never put your handbag on the table (aparently it’s a sure sign of solicitation in Spain and indeed the rest of the continent).
  • You cannot wear white pants with a black bra or visa-versa (matching underwear doesn’t seem to be a possibility for me, I do try but it always seems to go wrong).
  • Always hold your white wine or fizz glass by the stem (to prevent the heat of your body transfering into the cold liquid).
  • Malibu is an insult to humanity.
  • Handel’s Messiah is the only thing you can listen to whilst putting up a Christmas tree.
  • If you’re wearing a black dress, your knickers must be black also (I struggle).
  • Never wear white shoes (I don’t understand this one really but I still can’t bring myself to buy a pair).
  • Going out with wet hair will give you a cold (I have been told to amend this one, apparently it is my Oma’s rule not Mama G’s)
  • Don’t wear knickers with a seam down the middle (there really are a lot of underwear ones).
  • Iron the table cloth onto the table when you have special guests.
  • Drinks receptacles must have a thin rim not a think rim.
  • No side pony tales (I broke this one on Saturday – it felt so exciting!).
  • Green cars are bad luck.
  • Never wear yellow to ski in (it increases your chances of accidents and crashes).
  • Radio 4 is the only radio station.
  • If you’re the one driving, you are the one who chooses what to listen to (I spent my a lot of my childhood listening to the Archers).
  • You can only tell the true softness of everything and anything by rubbing it (gently) on your top lip.

I’m sure that there are more, but in trying to list them I have realised that I mostly only remember them when I’m in a situation the rule could apply to. It’s a little bit like when Harry Potter is about to die, stuff sort of seems to just turn up and save him, like the sword from the Sorting Hat – maybe for me they’re slightly less dramatic situations and of course mostly less fictional.

These rules may be have been slightly odd rules to be brought up with, especially considering that as a child I was allowed to wear literally whatever I wanted, to whatever occasion; I went to supermarkets dressed as mermaids and Queenie from Black Adder; I went to school with peace signs drawn on my cheeks with blue eye-liner, all this was fine as long as my knickers matched my dress. This all led to a properly hilarious and fantastic childhood.

My Childhood Style
My Childhood Style

Recently my sister called me and said: “We’re going to bring up our children with the same rules we were brought up with aren’t we?”

“Definitely” I replied, “But we’ll add in a few of our own too…”

Rule 1: Gender colour stereotyping is an abomination (they will learn this one early).

Rule 2: Earl Grey tea is for mornings, Lapsang Souchong is for afternoons, Yorkshire Gold is for never.

My mama and me by the sea!