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See, but then there’s that same issue again: Only some of my aversion to fashion and all that is a true aversion to it. Some of it is wrapped up in the fact that I feel like some of my image is that I’m a girl who doesn’t follow fashion and just wears what she likes. So sometimes when I’d actually sort of like to wear the dumb skirts and whatever, I don’t, because I’m not that kind of girl. It’s helped by the fact that I think I’d feel ridiculous in my sister’s pink miniskirt, even if I do have some residual desire to wear it: and I know enough to know that if I feel ridiculous, I’ll look ridiculous even if I otherwise wouldn’t. So I don’t wear the silly skirt, or the halter top, or whatever, except under duress or when I’m going to stay at home all day anyway.

Silly things, all. It shouldn’t matter. I should just wear whatever the hell I feel like, whenever the hell I feel like it, regardless of what I think somebody else will think. Because that’s the point, right? The whole point of not following fashion is because I care about my own comfort (not to mention dignity and pocketbook) more than I care about whether people think I’m whatever it is that people might think I am.

Certainly it’s pretty clear that I’m a dork, regardless. I could dress up all I wanted and wear all sorts of makeup and I would still think that the genetics of dihybrid corn coloration and island biogeography and the politics of cattle grazing are cool, and that there would set me apart pretty well. So I suppose part of it is that I know I’m not going to fit in with the normal, mainstream crowd no matter what: I was never going to be prom queen, or probably even friends with the prom queen, so what’s the point in trying to be a cheerleader?

So I wear my cords and my tank top, I shave my head sometimes and now that it’s long I don’t wash my hair more than twice a week anyway. I stopped shaving under my arms, but I still shave my legs.

That’s a feminist statement, right there, I’ve decided. Here at this hippie school, it’s not very uncommon for girls to go unshaven, and most of the other girls and the guys seem to be pretty used to it. But to shave my legs and not my armpits? It seems to confuse people: they don’t know quite what statement I’m trying to make. The more visible, especially now, in the winter, is of course the underarms, so it’s clearly not just a bending to the societal pressure that says hair is not feminine (there’s a whole other area to debate under that category, but I don’t think I’m going to get into it here). It all comes down to choice: I like how it looks and feels to have hair under my arms. It amuses me. I like how it looks and feels to have smooth legs. If I feel like I can’t shave my legs, that’s just as bad as if I feel as though I have to. It is in part a sensual choice, because I like how my legs feel when they’re soft and smooth, and I like how it looks to have them smooth and shiny when I wear a skirt. That final part is probably conditioning; but so what? It’s what I like. I also like hairy armpits, because I think it’s funny and because (let’s be honest) because I like the reaction I get from people. Also, as you pointed out so adroitly, unshaven underarms make for a good friend-filter, and probably an even better boyfriend-filter. Like the burping: if they can’t handle that, it’s good to get them weeded out at the very beginning. Let them judge me: there are a not-insignificant number of people who think that the comfort (confidence?) implied by allowing that hair to grow is sexy itself.

Heather Corrina shares a gypsy tale: Women once visited the Romany, distressed when husbands had taken to the bed of another. The wise Gypsy women would, at once, lift the arms of the worried wives, and they’d cluck when a razor had left their underarms barren. Let the hair grow back, they’d say, and he will not stray, for hair is power.

I like that. Also, I decided (usually when I say this, I say “A friend and I decided,” just so I don’t have to take the full responsibility of it, I suppose, but that isn’t really true. I mentioned it to my boyfriend and he agreed, but it was my hypothesis), so, I decided that girls with armpit hair (this is also applied to girls who don’t wear antiperspirant) are sexier because their pheromones can get out. And we (for I am very much am in both of those camps now), we, the hairy stinky girls, get to spread our pheromones far and wide across the air, and all the unsuspecting boys are attracted to us even though they don’t understand why. Even the ones who think they think that hairy stinky girls aren’t attractive find themselves attracted and I think it annoys the hell out of them. Or confuses the hell out of them. Or both. Certainly I’ve had people tell me that they only recently found themselves attracted to girls who don’t shave, usually (though not always: down, ego, down!) as a prelude to telling me that they’re attracted to me.

It’s been an interesting exercise. Here, at the college where it is fairly common, I’m very comfortable in my usual sleeveless shirts, raising my hand in class, whatever. Here, I can go days without being conscious of the fact that I might be stinky and I’m definitely hairy. But once I leave here, get back into the usual social situations where most people consider that an anomaly (my own sister thinks that not shaving is “gross”), and I find myself getting self-conscious. In the airplane, I found myself hesitating to put my luggage in the overhead compartment because I needed to raise my arms and I was wearing a tank top and there were men in business suits all around me. What does it matter if they judge me? Part of me takes pleasure in giving them a jolt, maybe shaking them for a moment out of their usual progression of expectation, but then I fear at the same time that all it means is that I’m getting shuffled from one category to another: from teenage girl (strange that I still tend to think of myself as a teenager even though I’ve been out of that official designation for years now and never really identified with it anyway) to hippie teenage girl. It’s worse when I’m wearing big flowy skirts and/or shirts with left-wing political slogans on them, or when I’m wearing a hemp necklace or some other thing that allows me to be easily categorized. I don’t like that. I want to break the mold: if I’m going to go without shaving, I’d like to wear the fashionable clothes and jewelry and whatever, just purely to make it harder to be written off. If I look otherwise respectable and quote normal unquote, but I don’t shave under my arms, then what? You can’t just call me a hippie if I’m in a pin-stripe pantsuit.

But isn’t that all just image? Who cares if he calls me a hippie in my head, writes me off as a negligible member of society? It doesn’t change who I actually am. If I wear the long flowing dress and a hemp necklace with a peace sign on it, or if I wear a miniskirt and thigh-high boots and a studded choker, I’m still the same me. You said that perception was reality: does that mean that the looks I get, the opinions formed silently (or not so silently) about me, the labels slapped on my unsuspecting ass, do they all define me? Am I different in the hippie clothes than I am in the conservative ones? I will act differently, I think that is true. Sometimes that’s a matter of appropriateness. We all play different roles, and I will act differently at a job interview than I do when I’m flirting or, hell, when I’m having sex. I will present myself differently, and part of that is choice of wardrobe. Does that change who I am?

I chose what I wear in part beause of who I expect will see it. Tomorrow I want to dress “cute,” I want to look good, because I’m having a class with a boy who I think is attractive and I want him to think that I’m attractive. When I go to an interview, I want to be seen as responsible and intelligent (And attractive, too, let’s be honest about that. Sex is part of everything, it seems. I don’t want to be seen as sexy, per se, at an interview, but I do want to be perceived as attractive. It helps, even if maybe it shouldn’t.), so I will dress for an interview with that in mind. When I know I’m going to my grandmother’s house for lunch, I don’t wear the clothes that show my belly or my bra strap, and I make sure I bring a sweater, because I know that she will harass me for showing my belly or my bra staps, or for not having a sweater. That doesn’t change who I am.

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Anonymous said...

Oh, heck yeah...I love Hairy girls, that dont shave or wear Deoderont. Girls like that are sooooo hard to find. I wish I went to that school with you. I would date you in a Heartbeat, as long as your a nice person. Their is also something about a Cute, but sweaty girl, They are like an addictive drug, that you cant find, yet cant get enough of. It will be interesting to see if any other guys comment on this. I think most guys like Hairy Sweaty girls, but they Deny it, even to themselves. An attractive Hairy Girl shouldnt have any trouble getting a boy friend..... The Girls wearing Tanks, that havent shaved in a few days, are always the First ones that guys ask out. The guys pretend they dont notice, but they know the girl hasnt shaved, and they are attracted to her, because of it, though this same guy, will also Tease you about being hairy, and smelly, but truthfully he would be mad, if you went and showered and shaved. ONE MORE THING,,,Girls should never Shower, or Wear Deoderont before SEX, because it kills the Armpit Aroma, and Sex is boring without having Hairy Sweaty Armpits.

2:09 PM  
Anonymous said...

I agree completely. Hairy girls rule!

7:59 PM  

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