I need to mow the lawn again. If our landlord comes around, he won’t be happy. The phrase, “grows like a weed” is especially appropriate here, given that most of it is weeds. But honestly, I rather like the wildness of it; the messy, random, “not-keeping-up-with-the-Jones’s-ness” of it. A small piece of rebellion in the middle of a suburb where it is not so much explicitly expected, but definitely insinuated, that keeping your berm nice and neat is Just What You Do. I’ve never understood that. It seems like an incredibly stressful yet boring way to live your life. Let your gardens grow wild and your berms be free!
Wild gardens, lack of mowing. Yeah. I don’t shave my legs either.
Or my underarms.
I know, right? Shocking!
It’s not even for any political or feminist agenda, although I probably am a feminist and I might have an agenda if I had the time to organise one. No, mostly I am just busy. The ten minutes it might take to shave and preen and make myself all smooth is ten minutes I can spend on something else I’d rather do. Reading. Writing. Doing something creative, interesting or fun, or simply being busy being happy. Rather like the way I keep my hair short, I seem to have reached a point in my life where I simply cannot abide the faff. I still wear makeup, although much, much less than I used to. My eyebrows are delicate and my eyelashes fair, without a dash of colour I have a tendency to look awful tired. Personal preference. It’s less about vanity and more about not scaring myself with my reflection.
It’s funny, most often the people who are the most shocked about my lack of grooming are other women. It says an enormous amount about how these expectations are thrust upon us and ingrained into us. It’s not their fault, it’s what Western women get taught from a very early age. Being hairy is synonymous with being dirty. With not caring about your appearance or your femininity. You cannot be “beautiful” and be fuzzy, apparently.
I still remember the media fuss in 1999 when Julia Roberts lifted up her arm to show a wealth of bountiful ‘pit hair. Before my time, there was great shock at Patti Smith showing her hirsuteness front and center on the cover of her “Easter” album. There were heads shaken in disgust and horror at goth/punk Siouxsie Sioux daring to not only cover a Beatles song, but to also bare her unshaven body in the music video. I could go on. There are quite a number of female celebrities who don’t bother with the razor. Amanda Palmer. Beth Ditto. Juliette Lewis. Drew Barrymore. Helena Bonham-Carter. Penelope Cruz. Barbara Streisand. Even the “Queen Bee” herself, Beyonce, to name just a few. Sometimes I suspect it’s a calculated decision, scandal and shock is always good publicity, other times, I wonder if, like me, they simply have better things to be doing with their time. Maybe they just get sick of always being expected to fit into a box, to be what society thinks they should be. I bloody love those women.
I don’t remember when I made the decision not to conform. I’m not sure if it really was a conscious decision, or if it was just something I fell into and realised I felt comfortable with. I have heard that it is a strong act of rebellion to actually like yourself, to be happy with how you look. That old adage that “beauty fades” is ridiculous. A lie. We don’t “fade” just because we get older, we just get older. But so many people, men and woman alike, strive to stay looking young, perhaps because they believe it will improve their lives somehow. I’m not judging at all, I just don’t really understand it. Maybe I will feel differently when I turn completely grey and my skin has slipped and slid and crumpled. I doubt it, but I might.
Sometimes I look in the mirror and I see my Mother. Sometimes I open my mouth and she comes out. It’s rather strange and unexpected, but also I don’t mind so much any more. For so many years I was convinced I couldn’t see any resemblance, or resolutely denied that I saw any. It’s strange how she would imprint herself now upon my features as I age. She must have always been there, I just didn’t want to see her. The disconnect of youth and the determination to be completely different from our parents.
I look a lot like my Dad too. I suspect it’s the beard. 😉
Yet, I don’t think any less of those lovely ladies who do prefer to be smooth and sleek. Oh yes, I always give a silent cheer of solidarity when I spy a shock of untamed follicles peeking out from underneath a sock or t-shirt sleeve, but otherwise it’s not like I actively seek out other women who are part of the razor rebellion or shun those who aren’t. I don’t care. I don’t think about it at all until I see it.
Then I realise, the rebellion is not about how you look or how you decide to present yourself, it’s about being truly happy in your skin, being happy with who you are. All the women in my social circle seem to be those kinds of people. Strong, confident, passionate people. They might not have it all figured out yet, but they’re definitely going down the right path, and not a single damn thing is going to stop them. Some of these women have been broken and shattered, many times over, and they still picked themselves up, put themselves back together and flipped the bird at the Universe as they did. They didn’t conform, or “stay in their lane”, they found new ways of looking at things, and doing things, and making things happen for themselves. Like the weeds in my lawn, they will always come back, their resilience and confidence defines them. They are fearless, and fantastic and I am beyond proud to call them my friends.
It’s a powerful thing, to love yourself. Hairy, not hairy. Young or old. Ladies, we are all so bloody beautiful.