Monday, April 03, 2006

SB Day: A Hairy Subject To Be Sure

It’s Smart Bitches Day (which I’ve explained to death many a Monday before, but if you’re new to this sort of thing, go here), and I’m just a little peeved. You see, today as I was standing in my shower shaving my legs (or perhaps a more apt description would be leaning against the wall so as to not fall out of my shower and nicking my ankles), I was reminded about all those Romancelandia heroines out there with the smooth legs sans razor burn and bandages. They never have to spend the time picking out the best shaving cream or acknowledging the chill to stubble ratio of the weather. Their legs remain smooth even when they’ve been kidnapped by psycho terrorists and end up tromping through jungle with the hero. They have magical hairlessness despite being part werewolf. They are dowdy librarians whose creamy skin remains stubble free without bother or fuss.

Are they getting electrolysis? Lazar hair removal?

Is this a service that comes free when you are due a hero?

Do the Gods of Romancelandia look down and say, “Oh Susie McDogood is going to meet up with Rafish Muscles in a few weeks. Make sure to send her that coupon for a free day at the spa complete with bikini wax,” or do they wave their magical God hands and the hair is gone.

“Ooh,” Susie McDogood thinks as she awakens the next day all appropriately trimmed and hairless. “I feel so silky-soft. Wow. I wish I had someone to share it with.”

Enter Rafish Muscles through her window.

I mean I know Romance is fantasy, and shaving is well…not, and we all dream of NEVER HAVING TO DO IT AGAIN, but c’mon. Unless your heroine is not a mammal (but rather one of those reptilian species I heard populated an Ellora’s Cave novel), she’s going to have hair.

Especially if she is a werewolf!

Think about the comic possibilities people. Maybe she owns her own day spa to help keep the hair thing under control when the full moon comes around, and all the ladies who work for her can’t come up with a polite way to ask “Where the hell is all this hair coming from?”

What? You don’t think it could work?


Well at least can we agree that this sudden influx of Romancelandia heroines who are completely bare down there (if you get what I’m sayin’ and I think you do) should stop? Because every woman I’ve ever talked to has struggled with not only the “how much is too much” question, but also the “ouch that hurts” moment. Go completely bare and you have to start thinking about grow-back and sensitive skin and shaving vs. waxing. You have to deal with the sudden sensitivity to everything, your clothing included, and how that may make you feel very, very unhappy.

The idea that there are these woman—some of them virgins even—prancing around hairless for no apparent reason makes me ill. Makes me wonder what kind of standard are we setting for ourselves? Definitely makes me wonder how no one else can see the slightly pedophilic undertones that can result.

I’m not saying that is it wrong, although the hair is there for a reason, but I’m asking for some motivation, some acknowledgement that its not all “Oooh I’m magically smooth.” Some respect for all the women out there who spend each morning judging whether or not they need to shave or just wear hose because really it’s not that bad.

Of course, those women would feel like crap if that was the day they met Mr. Muscles. But they don’t have to fall into bed with him immediately…

Do they?


Kate R said...

I'm on historical loops and the subject of Body Hair sometimes comes up. The general consensus seems to be that it's just not something we should mention. Or perhaps there can be some faint hair on the heroine's legs. That's IT, dang it.

I don't mind body hair but when I mentioned a bit of armpit hair in one of my books it was cut. (heh. cut. Get it?)

Demands for losing the hair is getting worse, not better, for the lazy among us. MEN are supposed to get shaved or waxed. (It makes their manly equipment look larger someone explained)

I've also read that porn movies don't allow any hair anywhere on anyone. (Well, the top of the head is okay.) It started with the adult movie crowd and now that look is spreading to the general population.


Bookseller Chick said...

Yeah, Ick is right. Think about the children people! What sort of lessons are we teaching them?

Eileen said...

My single friends clasify dates as "shave worthy." Personally I think the ability to rub your legs together like a cricket is a talent and a vote for stubble.

christine fletcher said...

And just last week I met a guy who's been embarrassed all his grown life because he doesn't have "enough" hair on his arms.

"...ability to rub your legs together like a cricket is a talent..." LOL! I agree. Another vote for stubble!

Cora said...

Honestly, Kate, you had a mention of armpit hair cut out of a book? Was it male or female armpit hair?

My male characters usually have chest hair and the occasional beard stubble, because - well, that's the way I like it. As for the females, I'm being tactful and don't mention it either way.

This whole hair removal thing is a modern fetish anyway (and an American one at that, though it's spreading elsewhere). For characters in historical fiction, I strongly suppose that most of them, including females, would have had body hair.

MaryJanice said...

Well, the reason none of my heroines worry about it is because, to grossly overshare for a minute, I don't worry about it. I'm Scandinavian, very fair and blonde, and ALL my hair comes in slowly and really really fine. I only have to do my legs about once a month. In other words, I am a freak. But because I hardly ever think of it or do it, my heroines don't, either. I can't imagine shaving my legs every day! Yikes!

Ms. Librarian said...

Yup, definitely pedophilic.

I once had a wax -- purely in order to report accurately to my girlfriends when they asked, "Does it hurt?"

Yes, it hurts. Never again.

lady t said...

The hairless thing is disturbing but then again,many heroines also have the following perfections:

No skin blemishs/acne

No dry /oily skin

no callused feet

no rough hands,elbows or knees

Not that any of that is glamourous but it would be refreshing to see a gal who's madly loved by a fella willing to massage her hardened tootsies with some Burt's Bees foot care products!

Nicole said...

I never thought of shaving "down there" as pedophilic. I figured people just did it because it felt good. Do we really think our partners like it because it reminds them of a kid? I don't think so. I'm sure there's a small percentage that do, but I doubt that's why the majority shave or wax.

I hate not shaving my legs. The stubble drives me nuts. I'm over half Scandinavian, but alas, didn't get the fine blonde hair. Just fine brown hair that's still annoying as stubble.

piksea said...

It's not just in books. My boyfriend watches Survivor and the only thing I've noticed is that the screen says these women have been in the middle of nowhere for weeks, with nothing but some rice and a spear, wearing virtually nothing and none of them have any visible arm, leg or bikini line hair at all. Which all leaves me to guess that they don't give them soap, shampoo, toothpaste, etcetera, but they do provide contact lens solution, mirrors and shaving implements.

Nicole said...

lol piksea! Even on Survivor, tv has to have its sex appeal intact.

Bookseller Chick said...

Nicole, the whole hair removal thing in general is not pedaphilic, it's when authors combine this with a description of the heroine as someone small, delicate, etc. Suddenly the character is taking on some very "under-developed" characteristics.

Pisea, you have such a point with survivor. Sure, they are emmaciated, but hey! they're hairless and that's hott (or so the kids are callin' it these days).

Lady T, first may I say that you have excellent taste in foot products. I love me my burts. Secondly you are correct that these heroines are devoid of any physical imperfections at all. Suddenly I'm feeling a hatred towards all romance heroines in general, but that might because I'm fighting a zit.

Ms Librarian, you are a true friend...with a high pain tolerance.

maryjanice, my hinz 57 variety style muttness hates your freakish scandinavian-ness, although I totally get your point as far as your heroines go.

Cora, I agree on the historical aspect as well as having a little hair on your man can be fun.

Christine, you need to get that guy into the Mr. Romance competition pronto!

Eileen, you make me laugh. Honest to god belly laughs. Which makes my legs rub together producing a cricket like sound.

Kate, your porn industry comments have got me thinking about the mainstreaming of the porn industry and how that is affecting personal presentation. I must ponder this more.

Nicole said...

BSC, when you put it that way, I do in some ways agree. :-)

MD said...

I recently read Case Histories by Kate Atkinson. Her hero, who is very worried about his adolescent daughter and the messages the world is sending her, has to ask some questions in a beauty salon and is struck by a comment from one of the clients about how her boyfriend insists on a full bikini wax, because then he can fantasize about having sex with a 13-year old. So you are in good company wondering about the resulting slightly paedophilic undertones of a full bikini wax.

Ms. Librarian said...

Here's a bit of a personal riff on the topic of pedophilia...

Over the years, I've thought quite a bit about the modern predilection toward boyish/childish bodies for adult women. This "style" first appeared in the mid-sixties, with the Twiggy look.

Though Twiggy herself grew out of the look, it's continued as young women become sexualized at younger and younger ages. A few years ago, a friend of mine complained that his 13-year-old daughter wanted to dress like a hooker because all her friends dressed that way. It occurred to me then that all the hookers must want to look like 13-year-old girls.

My personal opinion is that the whole trend has to do with power. As women began to have more power in the 1970s, when the women's movement gained ascendancy, the less secure men began to feel power-less. (As an aside: We really have come a long way from the 1960s and 1970s!) Who could they exercise power upon now? The ultimate powerless group is children. So, some men began to look for women who had the physical characteristics of children - small, undeveloped bodies. (And some men who were less savoury looked directly to children as sex objects.)

Anyway, that's my analysis ...