After confronting and starting to deal with some other shame issues early last year, I started to see many examples of shaming in our prevailing culture. Mammal shaming is one that I’ve particularly noticed. And it bothers me.
I think some folk are making a fine living because humans grow hair, ie. are mammals.
Have you seen the many ads on TV and memes on social media offering these products/viewpoints?
- Industrial strength deodorants, in case you – horror of horrors – sweat when you move or are in a warm climate or are human,
- hair transplants, so men (in particular) keep having head hair at all ages to show off your mammalian virility
- feminine products, shame sold – ‘specially to delightful teens – because you don’t wanna feel “gross”
- shavers for all genders – raze your face, your armpits, your legs, any other tell-tale mammalian outgrowth (“bikini line”, anyone?). Have smooth legs. They are the only kind that are sexy, women. Men, smooth your face with 5 ever-closer blades
- But: No breastfeeding in public! Natural use of mammalian glands? We mustn’t see it.
We learned in Primary (Elementary) School: Mammals feed their young, are warm blooded, have hair. These things have not changed. Our nature is we are luxuriantly hairy beasts, almost hair-growing machines. Yet, somehow we have been fed shame over it – enough to spend a bundle of money – and nobody seems to talk about it. We treat it as a given that we’ll style the hair on our head/face and get rid of that on our back or legs. What a huge market for stylin’, cuttin’, shavin’, colourin’ and laserin’.
I struggled with the dichotomy. Each day last Summer, I’d shave my legs while privately carrying a ton of resentment… Wishing I had the courage to not care, to not shave, to even speak up and say something.
More examples and reasons grew in front of me, like a healthy crop of leg hair…
- Leg shaving in the shower adds to the amount of water used and we’re in a water-shortage area.
- Shaving implements cost money.
- We clog the drains with our facial and leg trimmings.
- Dyes (usually pink and purple in my case) and other sheer gunk trickling down the drain are horrible for the environment.
- Even shampoo and conditioner, commonly used, are of course not made of sea water, but that’s where it all drains to eventually.
- And I didn’t want to keep spending the energy making the decision every day. When trying to live my life more consciously and in line with my values, my time itself is of value. This has been particularly brought into focus with the sense of urgency that’s arrived with my 50th Birthday. The time would be much better spent making art!
I’m not about to stop having my hair cut and styled. I’ve convinced myself hairdos are part of my creative expression! I foresee stopping colouring my hair at some stage because the chemicals that get washed down the drain weigh on my mind. And I’ll still shave my legs in Summer when they’ll be bare. But if I miss a couple of days and have a light prickle, I don’t think the leg-shaving police will be inspecting as often this year.
The beard culture gives me hope. The recent beard growing movement is building general approval of beard growing. Hoorah, mammals celebrating something intrinsically mammalian! Although the beard culture is still being piggybacked upon to sell things – artisan beard oil, special shavers & clippers – it still counts a societal step towards coming out as mammals. Hey, there are some majestic beards out there!
What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below. Keep it kind!
Love Meg x o :)
PS Writing this piece inspired the Autumn Walk artwork you see above, part of my Birthday Bold Art Project!
PS2 Have you checked out the new calendar covers yet? Much as I am reluctant to mention Christmas yet, getting a couple of items ticked on your list early makes the last month feel much more spacious and relaxed!