[personal profile] imagines
I have been thinking about this for a time, and right now I have a pounding headache and I'm feeling pissed off at culture, so the time is right to condense my thoughts.

It is not my obligation to adhere to the prevailing cultural standards of female beauty so that other people will feel aesthetic pleasure upon looking at me.

Sure, I can do it if I want to. Sometimes I like to put on eyeliner--because I have some fucking stunning eyes and sometimes it's fun to make them stand out. But you'll never catch me in foundation or lipstick, because the feel of these things on my skin is repellent to me. Foundation feels like a mask, even in the lightest application; lipstick feels slimy, no matter the brand. I am most certainly not saying that other people shouldn't wear these products, but I will argue to the end that it is not my responsibility to "cover my flaws" or color my lips so that other people will be pleased by my appearance.

Sometimes I like to put on a skirt. Yeah, you read that right. I found the most kickass skirt a few weeks ago. I have no idea how to talk about skirts, or I'd describe it, but rest assured it's awesome. And it looks awesome ON me, because I wear it my way, which is with Converse and tights and shorts and a t-shirt. This skirt does not prevent me from engaging in any activity whatsoever, which is one of my zillion reasons for not wearing skirts in general. (My rule of thumb for clothing is as follows: Could I wear this while running, climbing, and turning somersaults? If not, is it easily removed so that I could do these things? If not, I just don't wear it. Period.) I wear this skirt, in short, because I like it. I wear it because it makes me happy.

But here are two things that I don't do and don't expect to ever do again: shave or wear bras. Again, I note, I am not saying and never will say "I do this and SO SHOULD YOU." I will say "I do this and here is why." And I will also critique cultural expectations that can lead one to believe they should do these things no matter what. For years I believed that I was doing these things for myself. I had buried my discomfort, and I had convinced myself that culture hadn't affected me, that I was doing it because I wanted to and for no other reason.

And then there was the day I finally stopped to think about shaving cuts. How much they hurt. How much they bled. How red and swollen and scabby and awful they looked. How they stung when they happened, and how they itched as they healed. How I always got them on the backs of my knees, no matter how careful I was.

I realised I didn't enjoy shaving. No, it wasn't any fun to drag a sharp blade over my delicate skin. To do it twice if necessary, because I couldn't stand the feeling of scratchy stubble. To bend into pretzels to get every inch of my legs, and then find stray hairs anyway, hours after I'd finished. To never, ever be able to stop, because the look and feel of stubble was worse than having hair in the first place.

So I just quit. I threw out my razors. I started wearing jeans or tights all the time, because yes--I firmly believe it is not my obligation to follow the standard, but I also don't have the courage yet to uncover my legs. I'm working on that. I think I will get there someday. I'm somewhere in between "giving a fuck" and "not giving a fuck." I guess I "sort of give a fuck," enough to stop me from baring my skin. But every summer, I do it just a little more. I find friends who won't care, and I wear shorts when I hang out with them. This is what works for me at the moment. The big thing is that I'm still not shaving.

Once, last year, I got freaked about my underarm hair and shaved it off. And then I felt like a plucked bird, and it itched like hell when it grew back, and that was enough to convince me that shaving is not, has never been, and never will be for me. Hair is fine on my head. Hair is fine on my arms. Who the fuck is society to tell me that it's not fine on my legs and under my arms? Did you know that women in modern history did not shave until a fucking advertiser realised they could get more money if men AND women shaved? This isn't even culturally-constructed; it was nothing more than a campaign to convince women to spend more money. In no time at all, in the space of a couple of years, advertising had successfully convinced women that body hair was unfeminine. If you ever need an example of the incredible power that advertising has on culture, there you go.

(I think, once I've got some disposable income again, that I'm going to buy some of that pubic hair dye and try it out on my underarm hair. If ever there was a way to tell the world that I didn't forget to shave, it's there on purpose, it's dying it purple.)

So, yeah. I hate shaving. I won't do it. For me, it is a total waste of money and of resources: cans of shaving cream! ever more high-tech razors! not to mention band-aids! It is also a waste of my time, and the single benefit it offers me? The cultural freedom to bare my legs. And this is why I want to take back my freedom to bare my legs, because culture's got me so damn scared I won't wear shorts if I don't have tights on underneath. Who the fuck is culture, to tell me what I can and cannot do with my body? I cannot tell you how angry this makes me.

Now, as for bras--I'm talking about regular bras here; I'll get to sports bras in a minute. I find this a little less black-and-white, because I believe the people who tell me that bras make them more comfortable. Therefore, I ask you to believe me when I tell you that they make me uncomfortable. First of all, they waste my money. All that cash for a contraption that...HOLDS UP MY BREASTS? Okay, why? Why do I want to do that? Who decided that the proper location for a set of breasts is several inches higher than where they'd be normally? Cultural standard ahoy: "sagging" breasts are ugly. So I have to ask, ugly to whom? Not to me. I don't give a shit. It isn't my obligation to strap up part of my anatomy so that other people will be happy with how I look. I mean, what the fuck?

Second of all, bras are not necessary for me. I experience no pain from not wearing a bra, whereas I used to experience a hell of a lot when I wore one. Sorry, culture, but I have no interest in strapping my breasts to my shoulders and ribcage. That hurts. I have ligaments for holding up my breasts, and so far they're doing just fine.

Okay, sports bras! I'd love to have one of these, actually, but only because it would be slightly more comfortable than wearing a binder. I cannot, however, seem to find one that does not insist on being uplifting. I want compression, not enhancement, but because I'm probably a C cup at least, sports bras seem to think I don't exist. Or that my ribcage is bigger than it is, or smaller than it is. For the time being, I don't actually care that much. I run, dance, and skate braless; it has yet to cause me any problems. (Once in awhile, if I'm planning to be very active, I'll just wear a binder. And I will do this until I find the Sports Bra What Doesn't Seem to Exist.) I suspect it makes other people uncomfortable (there's those other people again), because ohmygod, BREASTS MOVE JUST LIKE ANY OTHER FATTY TISSUE!! Shock! Horror!

Whatever. Those people are really not my problem. If someone is so distracted by breasts that move that they can't concentrate on whatever the hell they're supposed to be doing instead, that's actually very fucking creepy. I'm not brafree for their enjoyment, and I'm not brafree to be shocking; I'm brafree because I fucking hate wearing bras. By the by, it's also not my problem that the fat on my thighs, calves, and arms moves when I move. My body stores fat, because it is supposed to; said fat will move if I do. Transfer of kinetic energy in the HOUSE.

In short: my body doesn't need to be supported, constrained, covered, repaired, smoothed, enhanced, or otherwise modified so that other people can enjoy looking at me.

Later, I will likely have more to say on this topic. I've just hit the chapter on second-wave feminism in one of my textbooks for Women in History, and oh, am I ever having a good time. Not one single history book I have ever read has even mentioned second-wave feminism--not even with a passing reference. And yet this era has to be one of the most influential in terms of how women think about themselves. It is my philosophical inheritance, and I am proud to learn about it so that I can own it.

In a fit of something or other, I'm going to unlock this for now. Do what you will.

Date: 2010-04-22 02:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kohl-eyed.livejournal.com
In short: my body doesn't need to be supported, constrained, covered, repaired, smoothed, enhanced, or otherwise modified so that other people can enjoy looking at me.

*___________*

bb, you are awesome.

Date: 2010-04-22 02:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oneworldvision.livejournal.com
As always, incredibly well-said.

Date: 2010-04-22 02:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] havocmangawip.livejournal.com
Hell yeah!

The aesthetic things I do? I do for me. (Leg shaving? I dig it. Pubic hair manicuring? Not so much. I'm a fan of trimming and then leaving it be.)

I also dig super groomed eyebrows on me. Really frames my face nicely. I dig makeup but really eww to most lipstick. I'm not a fan of eyeliner unless I'm really in the mood for it. I LOVE mascara. If I do nothing else I put on mascara and lip balm.

Date: 2010-04-22 02:33 am (UTC)
kuiskata: (Fly)
From: [personal profile] kuiskata
This post is win. You are awesome, Kit.

Date: 2010-04-22 02:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] flwrpwr-vampyre.livejournal.com
You have said so many things I feel here. The shaving thing in particular but the brafree thing too. I don't have the courage to go out in public without a bra but I only rarely wear one around the house and if someone knocks on my door they are going to get me in exactly what I'm wearing and I don't care what they think.

Hilariously, I haven't shaved my legs in over a year and last summer was the first time in my entire life that I've felt really comfortable in shorts/shorter skirts.

Anyways, rambling comment is rambling and you rock!

Date: 2010-04-22 02:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jedusor.livejournal.com
There was a great Not Always Right post once by someone who worked retail. She was wearing an ankle-length skirt, and someone asked her to get something down from high up. While she was standing on the ladder, the person noticed that her legs weren't shaved and freaked out about how unprofessional it was. Her response: "You're looking up a woman's skirt and complaining about what you see there, and I'm being unprofessional?"

Date: 2010-04-22 03:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] evilsimon.livejournal.com
*high five*

Might I recommend the Moving Comfort sports bras? They don't run cheap, sadly. However, they do compress comfortably, at least in my experience. I am not insignificantly stacked, and my body structure also runs to slender, so when wearing normal bras, my boobs kind of...stand out. When I am wearing one of those, I can wear a relatively well-fitted button-down shirt and look pretty much like a boy. It pleases me. It isn't quite as dramatic as some of the binders I've owned in the past, but it's certainly a step above the sports bras that really don't do much on either the support or compression front. Which appears to be all of them.

edit: Oh! And apparently their website actually believes in my bra size, unlike EVERY STORE EVER. I found mine in a sports store in upstate New York, so I only saw their site when I linked you to it 8D;;
Edited Date: 2010-04-22 03:08 am (UTC)

Date: 2010-04-22 03:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 148km.livejournal.com
Transfer of kinetic energy in the HOUSE.

ahaha THIS. ಠ____ಠb

I wear bras because I feel uncomfortable without them (and I have like the most sensitive nipples ever jhfksf... and while I'm on the topic of bras, sports bras have actually been LESS comfortable for me, possibly because I'm so small, but I really hate how they SQUEEZE THE LIFE OUT OF ME), but I'm not gonna lie... shaving is one of the "peer pressures" that I succumbed to, because suddenly I was in junior high with a bunch of little girls who thought they were women/sexually attractive to normal people. I still shave, mostly because I can't stand the feeling of stubble long enough to just let my hair grow back. XD;; But I haven't cut myself shaving in years, so it's not really a big deal for me.

Skirts... I like skirts. And dresses. Much more than I used to--I think they probably turned me off at first because Skirts Are For Girls, And If You Wear Them, You Are A Girly-Girl. :/ (Personally, I think skinny jeans are a lot more restrictive and uncomfortable than skirts, unless they are mini, mini, mini skirts.) But as I've gotten older, I've started to care less about what other people think about my clothes and have started dressing to my own standards--and I have to say, I look damn good. :|b Last year, my friend's now-ex-girlfriend saw me wearing my knee-high Doc Martens and thought I should know: "Those are lesbian shoes." But I was like "FUCK YOU THEY ARE SHOES. ಠ_ಠ" I'm also actually really interested in trying corsets, just to see what it's like. Probably not great activewear, BUT IF TIM CURRY CAN WEAR ONE, SO CAN I.

I like to look good... but there is literally no derivation of pleasure on my part unless I look good to me. (As much as I like it, I feel weird when I try imitating gyaru makeup.) Luckily, I'm comfortable enough with myself that I can walk out the door every day without putting on any makeup or styling my hair.

... That was sort of rambly, and I get that you're not saying this at all, but I always get this feeling that you-can't-be-a-feminist-if-you-shave-or-wear-makeup-or-skirts (sort of like how you-can't-be-an-environmentalist-if-you-eat-ANY-MEAT-AT-ALL), which... I don't know, doesn't that sort of miss the point? Be as vehement and riled up about women's rights as you want, but if you like wearing high heels sometimes? No way, you're not a feminist. But maybe I'm just bitter, seeing as how my join request for [livejournal.com profile] wtf_sexism was rejected. :P

Date: 2010-04-22 04:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] daikenkai.livejournal.com
guuuuurl, A+ post.

I have finally started wearing makeup for myself, not for other people and I feel better that way. I don't cake it on, but I wear what feels comfortable to me. I can't wear a lot of mascara because I have such long eyelashes that it rubs against my brows and it just... a strange feeling. XD But now I rarely leave the house without makeup and that's because it makes me feel better, not because someone told me to. It feels. SO. NICE. goddamn.

I'm beginning to think like you. I pretty much ONLY wear a bra if I am going out in public because they're really just so big that it makes me uncomfortable when I see people staring at them. Victoria's Secret, thank the gods, have some awesome bras or else I would probably BECOME braless. XD I CANNOT sleep in a bra. Can. Not. Do it. I have a permanent red mark right around where my ribcage from doing that when I was younger and I fucking hate it. tbh, bras really do cause more discomfort than comfort. :x i still wear them, though. wtf. It's weird: I can't wear one when I sleep, but I can't not wear one when I go out.

re: sports bras! MTE BB. I hate sports bras that try to lift you up because that's not what they're for. They're for COMPRESSING you so you DON'T move and CAN be active. -_- I had the most amazing sports bra ever a few years ago but my tits went up a cup size and a half so I can't wear it anymore. It was completely compressing, completely comfortable, and a wonderful addition to the chest binding I did when I crossplayed.

actually... whenever I last saw you it totally like didn't even cross my mind that you were braless! I knew at the back of my mind, but I didn't notice. And I was not bothered in the slightest when I realized that you are braless, because you are still Kit and you are still Awesome.

The shaving thing... I have mixed feelings about it. I really usually only shave my legs when I'm baring my legs, because, again, I don't like the looks I get from people (makes me v. uncomfortable) and I just feel better if they're shaved. In the winter, however? FUCK THAT SHIT. I don't shave my legs from like September - January and I don't give a flying fuck. I never shave in the winter because 1) it adds warmth 2) no one's going to be seeing my legs because they are covered up and because I just plain don't want to.

I'm sure I probably seem all gross and wishy-washy, but eh. idgaf :D

love you bb, keep it the FUCK up. ♥♥
Edited Date: 2010-04-22 04:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] blindmadness.livejournal.com
Good for you, bb! ♥ Seriously, everyone should be able to do whatever they want with their bodies and no one should judge or think less of them or whatever. You are the one that has to live with it; if other people don't want to look at you because of it, hell, no one's forcing them! But you can't stop living in your own skin, so what you want to do comes first, goddammit.

I don't usually wear makeup -- mostly because I'm lazy, but also because I have really sensitive skin (so no foundation, etc.) and putting on eye makeup is frustrating for me because it requires standing RIGHT BY the mirror because my vision is so shitty. Plus, wearing anything on my lips when I'm around Ned is a lost cause, but. >____> It's IMMENSELY boosting to my ego, too, to have a boyfriend who is not only completely supportive of this decision, but also frequently tells me that I don't need it and I look better without it. I do sometimes wear a little bit for special occasions and such, but that's because I want to, not because I feel like I can't leave my room without any on.

I have started to really, really like skirts and it's pretty fun! Though I do still feel like I have to shave before I wear them, but I do genuinely love the feeling of having smooth legs. Also I feel really awkward having leg hair in general because I'm so pale and my hair is so dark, and I know it's probably mostly conditioning and such but it wouldn't bother me NEARLY as much not to shave if my hair weren't so damn noticeable. :| (That only goes for below-the-knee hair, though. I haven't bothered removing hair from my thighs in years, there's really just no point.) Stunningly enough, considering how clumsy I am, I have only ever seriously cut myself shaving once (big ol' red line down the back of my leg for weeks, yay!) and otherwise, apart from times when it stings a bit because my skin is dry or when I shave right before going swimming, it just feels totally fine. I feel like if it were more painful or inconvenient, I might not do it as much, but it's seriously like five minutes of my time -- maybe once a week, if that? (I tend to shave right before I wear a skirt, then wear jeans for two weeks and totally forget that I even have leg hair. Oops? >__>) And since I enjoy the feeling and it doesn't take that long, I'm cool with the fact that I'm still doing it.

Underarm-shaving, I do because I sweat less when I do it. I've started doing it a little less often, but since I sweat so much as is and shaving helps relieve it by A LOT, it's actually more for practical reasons than anything else. \o/

Re: bras, I'm not doubting your claims or anything because hey, everyone's body is different and that's okay!, but I personally cannot fathom how not wearing a bra can be more comfortable than wearing one. o__o I mean, if you're not doing anything, absolutely -- I sit around braless at home all the time and I don't sleep in one -- but if I'm walking someplace or even exercising at home or doing things at all, the bouncing is so annoying and sometimes outright painful. Again, I'm totally not doubting or criticizing or anything -- in fact, I'm actually kind of jealous :( -- I just cannot understand how that is POSSIBLE.

I also love heels (not as a steady diet, mind, but once in a while!), but unfortunately I have super-sensitive feet and so I have to subject myself to possible intense discomfort/pain later should I choose to wear them. :( And this makes me SO SAD because sometimes, I just want to wear my adorable black or brown kitten heels! Not for any particular reason, not to look good for anyone but myself or because I feel I should, they're just cute and I love them! But no, my feet have decided to throw off the yoke of the oppressors and don't discriminate regarding when that is and when it's not. :(((( Sigh.

And I think that's enough about me! BASICALLY YOU ROCK, OKAY. ♥

Date: 2010-04-22 05:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] astro_knight.livejournal.com
This post is fabulous. ♥!

I used to shave under my arms too, but it was painfully itchy, I just stopped. Stopped doing my legs too because of all the surprise cuts! You know, the sneaky ones that don't start stinging until like, twenty minutes later? Aghhh.

I wear bras in public to stop the bouncing and chilliness, but home and some friends' (also Gran's) houses are warm and I don't run around a lot there. :D

Date: 2010-04-22 07:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sekaigo.livejournal.com
♥ ♥ ♥

I have to say this: you are an amazing, amazing person and I am so grateful that I know you and get to read what you write. You've inspired me more than you know.

This post is just... yes. Exactly. I struggle so much with this: It is not my obligation to adhere to the prevailing cultural standards of female beauty so that other people will feel aesthetic pleasure upon looking at me. But I never let myself think about it much, because, I don't know, subconsciously I expect thinking about it to make it more real. I do enjoy the feeling of shaven skin, but when I think about it, I know I started shaving my legs because I felt ugly when I was the only one of my friends who didn't.

For me, going without a bra is usually a painful experience (fuck you, DD breasts), but I almost never wear anything besides sports bras. They make me look aesthetically pleasing to myself, they stop the kind of bouncing which involves back pain, etc. Unfortunately, they're also particularly expensive, but... it's worth it, I think.

Anyway, in short! This post is amazing, and definitely something I needed to read. Thank you. ♥

Date: 2010-04-22 09:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sleepherealone.livejournal.com
I actually did not wear anything OTHER than sports bras until I was around 17 or 18 just because I'd never thought of going shopping for regular bras and even if I like the latter now, I never had problems with sports bras. It'd be awesome to go braless, but even though it evidently sounds like my boobs are smaller than yours, they're still too bouncy for me to feel comfortable with. >:O But I like this post! It's really awesome to see how self-aware you are of all these things that make you, you.

Date: 2010-04-22 09:20 am (UTC)
crazybutsound: (gabe is oh so amused)
From: [personal profile] crazybutsound
Amen, sister. I'm 35 and still hating the fact that when I do wear makeup (BECAUSE I FEEL LIKE IT), my family can't help themselves from exclaiming "my oh my, don't you look lovely today!" You think they would know better by now than to say that, because in previous years, I have been known to go and wash the makeup off my face as a reaction to such a comment. Now, I just smile and go "as I do everyday without makeup." Which has the added bonus of making them stutter and embarrassingly try to explain that they never meant that I don't look lovely everyday. I love to see them squirm.

As for bras, I have big breasts, so my bras are for comfort. If I could go without a bra, I would, but it tends to be painful (though no matter what people say, I still go braless when the heat is too much for me in the summer). My mum's been trying to make me wear frilly underwear since I was a teen, using the terribly compelling reason that "if I have an accident and have to have my clothes removed by nurses or what not, what will my less than glamorous cheap underwear say about me?" *shakes head* Yeah, well, if I'm at that point, I'm guessing NOBODY will care about my underwear, so I'd rather be comfortable. I don't need underwear to feel sexy (or unsexy, as a matter of fact).

All this to say that I couldn't agree with you more on everything you just said. ♥

Date: 2010-04-22 10:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaberett.livejournal.com
You will not be at all surprised that I am enormously proud of you, and very impressed that you've written this post (because I keep not writing posts like it - because most of the people on my flist get it already, and I don't think I'll convince the ones who don't...)

So!

1. I intend to actually get around to dying my armpit hair electric blue this summer.
2. Cupless sports bras might be the kind of thing you're after?
3. I do go out wearing strap-tops and no bra and have only once had any trouble at all (a friend asking, in a slightly disapproving tone, whether I was wearing a bra).
4. You'll get there with the baring legs, and it's amazing. Promise.

x

Date: 2010-04-22 03:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mijan.livejournal.com
That was a fucking brilliant rant. Absolutely spot-on, undeniable, and solid. YOU are MADE OF WIN.

For me, for example, I shave my underarms because I happen to like it ON ME. I don't get cuts or bumps or rashes from shaving, and I feel more comfortable being smooth. But I don't shave my legs, and see no reason why I should have to. I think if furry legs are fine on men, then they're fine on women too, and totally agree that nobody should feel obligated to shave any body part because some nebulous social standard decreed it.

Now, as for finding a sports bra made for comfort and not enhancement... you and I need to go sports-bra shopping. I wear a sports bra or binder every day because I prefer it, but I won't wear anything uncomfortable. The ones I have are built for gentle compression, and they're as soft as t-shirts. I get more mobility and flexibility than with a binder. They don't compress as tightly, but I need more lung capacity and torso movement for exercising, so I go with the sports bra. They're very comfortable. NO UNDERWIRE, no "enhancement" parts. So for days when you want some compression but don't want to deal with a full binder for whatever reason (weather is too hot, your stomach hurts, you want more freedom of movement), they're perfect.

Want to go shopping?

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