This is an academic book on women and body hair, a subject which has, until now, been seen as too trivial, ridiculous or revolting to write about. Even feminist writers or researchers on the body have found remarkably little to say about body hair, usually not mentioning it at all. If women's body hair is noted, it is either simply to accept its removal as an inevitable aspect of female beautification, or to argue against hair removal as a return to a ‘natural’ and un-oppressed female body. The only texts to elaborate on body hair are guides on how to remove it, medical texts on ‘hirsutism’ or fetishistic pornography on ‘hairy’ women. This book asks how and why any particular issue can become defined as ‘self-evidently’ too silly or too mad to write about. Using a wide range of thinking from gender theory, queer theory, critical and literary theory, history, art history, anthropology and psychology, the contributors argue that, in fact, body hair plays a central role in constructing masculinity and femininity, as well as sexual and cultural identities. Arguing from the theoretical position that identity and the body are culturally and historically constructed, the chapters each analyse, through a specific focus, how body hair underpins ideas of the ‘cultural’ and ‘natural’ in Western culture.
description fits the perky girls engaged in abuse at Abu
Ghraib and the pony-tailed girl suicide bombers blowing up
themselves and others; their smiles dissemble; they are not
what they seem.
While Cavarero diagnoses the idealization of a virtual,
technological (male) body over and against a real, natural
(female) body, she does not discuss the role of technology in
creating this prejudice. The issue of the relation between
technology and bodies is complex. Technology is often
seen as one means to control and even discipline unruly or
diseased bodies; for example, we
one, our approach builds on feminist work around
cosmetic surgery that Victoria Pitts-Taylor (2009) has called ‘post-essentialist’
(see also Fraser 2003; Jones 2008a). A post-essentialist approach refuses ‘to
valorise an authentic, naturalfemalebody or a proper female subjectivity’,
while insisting that ‘we must think of the meanings of bodily practices like
cosmetic surgery as neither solely internal nor external but rather as intersubjective’ (Pitts-Taylor 2009: 122). Post-essentialist analyses of cosmetic surgery
Beautyscapes: mapping cosmetic surgery
Women and body hair in contemporary art and advertising
work that is necessary to create the conditions for a body to be deemed feminine, is that the bodies regularly shown have a normative quality – they become the ‘real/natural’ femalebody to which women should aspire. These images should raise no questions about the feminine ideal – an ideal that has generated, as suggested in Naomi Wolf’s popular volume The Beauty Myth , a gigantic and thriving industry world-wide. 13
Commenting on the traditional pictorial genre of the female nude, Griselda Pollock and Rosizka Parker write that
through its positioning as unconscious. The review ends accordingly: ‘To be honest I find this flick rather dull. Raquel Welch in a fur bikini. There is, however, one special thing about it that makes me want to see it again & again.’ 29 In these comments on One Million Years BC , the fur bikini functions to claim a naturalised woman beneath, in the first case by being ‘upholstery’ for the ‘natural’ femalebody, and in the second case because there the fur bikini can be read as both veiling and yet pointing to her sex through the connection of fur to body hair
berynge and of gode tonge’ (24), unlike the son who is by nature predisposed to bodily restraint … The social space is here envisioned as highly theatrical, requiring a nuanced, self-aware, and highly guarded performance. In this performance the naturalfemalebody has to be constantly monitored and regulated, its basic impulses restrained and reshaped in socially acceptable ways so as to hem in its potential transgressiveness.