I tweeted yesterday about experimenting with eyeshadow. I think my eyes are probably my most beautiful feature anyway, but I like adding a bit more colour or sparkle around them and am determined to learn how to do this. As I wrote then, “I will be beautiful, or failing that, sparkly”. Still working on the eyeshadow project, but I have discovered a wonderful bronze colour that creates a nice highlight in small doses. I think I may want to combine that with a couple of other shades (this is something that a guy who doesn’t play with make-up would probably not realise: eyeshadow is used in combinations! I know I was surprised when I looked up “how to” videos for it…) and build a shiny new look.
Anyway, this post is not about eyeshadow, it’s about hair – or, getting rid of it.
My hair is in various ways linked with my sense of self in quite a deep and complicated way. When I chose to cut my head hair short – and then clip it REALLY short – these were huge steps for me; it felt almost like being born again into a new self or body. I took the opportunity to embrace that change and make a few of the changes to lifestyle and presentation that I had been meaning to but never actually putting the effort in. Even now, every time I get the clippers out to get back to the super-short trim, it feels like a significant event and makes a huge change. Nimue Allen & Pandora Blake tweeted today about a BDSM shoot in which Allen is going to have her head shaved: how could I resist mentioning how powerful that is for me? And it turns out Nimue Allen shares the same feelings.
But what really prompted me to start writing is that for me, hair is not just the stuff growing from my scalp. My body is covered in the stuff most of the time, and it really bothers me. It locks my body into a “male” frame of reference that is at odds with my self-image and preferred genderqueer/genderfluid presentation/identification. With the exception of my scalp (which, alas, is slowly relinquishing the idea of being hairy: a trait that shows up in my paternal family line) I would happily be rid of the lot. I’m not too bothered by my crotch pubes (though more because trying to shave them seems fraught with peril than any reluctance to be rid of them; but they bother me least of the body hair) but the rest can go.
About once a year (and today was that day this year) my discomfort or dissatisfaction with my body hair grows sufficient that I will set aside an afternoon to scrape off as much as I can reach, using a pack of razors. Arms, legs, chest, belly, shoulders – all bare! I caqn’t reach my arse or my back, and there’s always a strip up the back of each thigh that is just out of range. But if I can see it and get to it, it’s gone. Each year I promise myself that I will use the electric “ladyshave” to maintain the hairless magnificence, but each year I forget or fail to make the time to do it, and I muddle along for a year or so until finally the urge to be fresh again overcomes the laziness. What triggered it this year was thinking about makiing myself beautiful (re: the eyeshadow) and getting on with it. (There’s also a point that I was told in my teens that the more often you shave, the quicker and longer the hair grows back: I’m slightly nervous about turning into a totally hairy creature if I do it too often!)
Pandora Blake (her again!) wrote a couple of weeks ago a post called Pain, permanence, and laser hair removal. The treatment was a gift from one of her partners. The idea of permanent removal of body hair is just my ideal: all over, all gone, forever, never coming back: brilliant!
I love the feel of my bare, shaved skin on my arms and legs and chest when I’m finished. It feels liberated, alive, and connected. Blake writes:
For me hair removal isn’t about fashion as much as sensation. I like the feel of being touched or licked on hairless skin. It makes it more sensitive, more tingly. Personally I don’t have any preference about anyone else’s grooming regime, and will gladly touch and lick my lovers’ bits, hairy or not. On my own body, however, I have grown to love the feel of silky velvety smoothness.
It’s exactly the passage, and the sentiments, that I woluld have written here, if I didn’t have Pandora Blake’s post to cope-paste from already! I love this feeling so much, I find it hard to understand that someone wouldn’t want it, all the time.
There’s also a practical thing: when I am hairy, the hairs catch and hold water in the bath or shower, making it much harder to dry myself off properly afterwards.
And finally, as I said, being hairy makes my body feel much more male-oriented than suits my sense of self or identity. My body feels so much more like my body, a body that is intrinsic to me, when it is hairless than otherwise. Not only through sensation but through identity I feel more closely attached to the world. I haven’t had sex while hairless (to be honest, I would be too self-conscious about the obvious divide between where I can reach and where I can’t – and as yet no relationship has lasted long enough for me to trust a partner with a razor on my body) but even ordinary touches to parts of the body you wouldn’t think of as erogenous feel sensual and sexual, too. To have a partner I could share that body with, would be special.
I have no idea whether whole-body laser hair removal is feasible, or even safe; I’m fairly sure facial hair removal would not be [EDIT TO ADD: turns out I’m wrong: see Pandora Blake’s comment below]. I couldn’t possibly afford it anyway. But it’s a dream. And who knows, maybe THIS time, I will remember to use that electric shaver…