The New York Times has a story today about the huge amounts of hair donated each year to organizations like Locks of Love; apparently, much of it is unusable.

Here’s another interesting post on the topic of hair donation (there’s too much of it, it seems, and money may be preferable) from Shakesville; I do think it’s cruel to coerce a young girl to donate her hair if she’s not genuinely willing to do so.

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On August 23rd, The Today Show ran a segment about “fabulous” new hair removal products. Oh wait, they weren’t so much referred to as hair removal as “skin smoothing.” Here’s the intro to the online version of their story:

While most women already have a pre-pool-party hair-removal ritual, new technologies and products are making it easier than ever to achieve glossy gams and a beach-ready bikini line. From new Nair-like lotions to barber-type brushes to the latest laser solutions, these hair-removal methods will wipe away (literally, in some cases) your stubble trouble.

Glossy gams? Although I’ve shaved for almost two decades, I don’t think I’ve ever seen my legs get all glossy from the process. Bleed-y, perhaps, or scar-y. Ingrown hair-y. But glossy? And what is this pre-pool-party hair-removal ritual? (I must not have the membership card to that secret society…)

My main issue is with the “style editor” (!) and her approach to the story. She runs through all the new solutions to the woes of getting rid of body hair, solutions which include sprays, waxes, and (for the moneyed class) laser hair removal. She also mentions a “revolutionary” product that uses a *heating* element to “disrupt the hair follicle.” I haven’t tried this (and most likely never will), but I think it’s safe to assume there’s a bit of pain associated with applying a heating element to one’s skin — after all, it’s supposed to be hot enough to “reduce hair density over time.” Leaving aside the validity of this claim, the “style editor” notes that she tried the product, and feels bad about being “such a baby” for her fears that something like this would cause pain.

Let me get this straight. She’s a “baby” because she’s kinda nervous about using a torture device tool that applies a heating element to her bare skin? I think this clip highlights the lengths to which marketers will go to service the idea that it’s unacceptable for women to let their leg hair grow naturally. The “style editor” also tries laser hair removal, again admitting to us that it kinda hurts, and what a “baby” she is for objecting to the pain.

The video clip for the story is worth watching if only from the perspective of cultural critique; sure, we’ve been shaving for “years” (and now millions of us pay upwards of a thousand dollars to have hair lasered off) but what’s the impetus for continuing to do so? Could it *possibly* be to help cosmetic surgeons and corporations make money on hair removal products?

I would think that, once I reach crone-hood, I’ll stop caring about what “other people” think about my appearance. Instead, I’ll demand to be treated the way aging male news anchors are treated: like a font of wisdom, to be paid more and more money for granting society the benefit of their experience, despite their graying, thinning hair. However, I’ve just learned via Lisa Black of WGAL.com’s entertainment desk that, no, even long post-post-post menopause, I’ll need to continue to consider what “they” think of my hair. And if I choose to keep long hair, well, I better look damn good in it or else they’ll all be “laughing behind [my] back.”

Here’s a message from the future long-haired, sexy older woman to those who might judge me for keeping my hair whatever length I want: screw you.

How often do *you* shave? Shaving the body is such an interesting ritual: sensual, compelling, possibly painful! Products abound to enable us to rid our bodies of hair. Swimmers do it, I assume, to enhance their speed in the water…but what about the rest of us?

I was in my early teens when I started shaving, and I don’t remember *not* having a strong sense of shame about the dark, thick hair that grew (and still grows) on my legs & arms. There’s a myth that shaving makes hair grow back darker, but mine started out course & heavy.

Are there elements of masochism & self-torture in this ritual? Why do we feel compelled to be hairless? Why is hair ok on some parts of our body, but our mainstream media ridicule female celebrities who are caught off-guard with their armpit hair showing?

The web is like all interconnected & stuff, so bloggers cross-post on the same topic quite a bit. Here are a few posts that Pam Spaulding very generously added to the blogs pandagon, shakespeare’s sister, and americablog, on the topic of hair & politics. The comments & discussion the posts evoked are worth reading!! 🙂

If you have a story or thought to share about your experiences with your own hair, here’s an open thread to get us started.

A domestic violence outreach organization, Safe Haven Ministries, trains salon workers to be on the lookout for signs that a client may be involved in an abusive relationship. Is it true that women would trust their hairdressers enough to share that they are being abused by their partners? Personally, I go to the salon only a few times a year, and rarely to the same hair stylist, but I know many women who are loyal to their stylists. Any possibility of assisting a woman who is in a violent relationship is worth the hour it takes to train a stylist to notice signs of harm.