Saturday, December 26, 2009

And now for something completely different: A Blog About Something I Hate


That is, other people's hair. That is, the hair of other people lying around, in drains, on my coat, on the internets, in commercials, drawn into my favorite cartoon. I've never dry heaved at a commercial until Anthony Sullivan began hocking the Turbo Snake on late night tv. I've never come closer to turning off an episode of The Venture Brothers than when Dean picks up and plays with a hair clog from the shower.
In the past, if someone else's hair got on me, I would freak out and look away while making someone else remove it from me. Occasionally, this still happens, but years of working in retail where far more disgusting things (like cash) are handled on a daily basis kind of desensitized me to at least that. But I have a very strong visual/visceral connection, so when I see an image of hair falling to the floor while a guy sits in a barbers chair in an H&R Block commercial and asks if a hair cut is a "job hunting expense", I just about lose my shit. Yeah... it's a problem.
This all started probably when I was 9 or so, and my sister's long black hair was everywhere. Vacuuming wasn't yet part of my chores, but if I had known this would reduce the amount of hair that was, literally, everywhere, I would have taken up the habit a lot sooner. Needless to say, a big deal was made about the mess. Somehow, I internalized this and began avoiding hair. Then, of course, there were all of my friends who had long, frizzy hair in junior high and high school -- I, personally, cut my hair very short at 12 and later at 15, and since haven't ever had it longer than my chin; the shortness, combined with the color (RED!) helps me to not freak out over my own hair.
Of course, all of this is made even more idiosyncratic because I live with a dog and human who each have full heads and backs of hair. Pugs shed more than just about any creature this side of Alpha Centauri; the Schmoogie, thankfully, not so much. And I'm lucky enough that having to clean hair clogs out of drains is a thing of the past -- living with Kia, as bad as that was on its own, was made infinitely worse by the fact that she never bothered to clean anything, let alone hair from the shower drain... I once had to dig a giant, dishwater-blonde hair clog out with a chopstick while wearing nitrile gloves.
Don't mistake me, I don't mind hair that maintains some delusion of continued life -- I suppose you could say that my aversion to hair is similar to the aversion of others to corpses -- and I'm certainly no germaphone germaphobe, I just don't like looking at, touching, being touched by, or having to acknowledge the existence of discarded strands or clumps of hair. (Actually, I don't like being touched by living hair either -- if another girl in a club swings her hair around and touches me with it, I will throw down. You assault me with your uncontrollable hair, I will assault you with my fists. That's how irrational I am about this!)
So, I don't know, would people please stop putting little clumps of hair on the damn tv. It's really starting to get under my skin... ew. Now I'm gonna have nightmares about hair under my skin. Great. Thanks usually harmless colloquialism.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Who the hell are women trying to please?!

Over at Street Carnage, there's a preview of a photo spread from next month's V Magazine where an industry standard sized model (size 0) and a plus sized model (size 12) go head to head in a pose-off. I think this is pretty cool, but at the end of the article we see this picture, plus a nice little post-script.

PS: I thought this picture was boring when I first saw it but I couldn’t stop thinking about it for weeks. The National Average one is irrelevant because midwestern fatsos skew the “figures” but how about the part where women’s ideal is not the male’s ideal? Who are they trying to please?

I'll tell you who: themselves.
Contrary to popular belief, women don't actually exist solely to please men. I know, it sounds crazy, but women see themselves differently than men, and this is going to sound even crazier: a lot of the time, the way a woman dresses, does her hair and/or makeup, and the general effort that she puts into her appearance isn't to please anyone but herself.
"WHAT?! You can't be serious!" shriek the menz and radfems alike. (The radfem admonishment is followed promptly by a call of naievete on my part, letting me know in that radfemsplanation tone that I am simply blinded by a society that seeks to keep me pretty in order to please men. I don't buy it.) I am 100% serious, and I'll give you one reason why: my hair is not naturally red. Most of the people I know wouldn't really care whether my hair was red or brown, and the attractive elements of my personality aren't impacted by the color of my hair. So who in god's name am I trying to please by having red hair? Myself.
There is an element of conditioning going on here too, though. There are a lot of women out there who think that they want to be a size 8 because the media tells them that the only way anyone would ever find them attractive is if their dress size is in the single digits.
Finally, the "national average one" isn't irrelevent. What this image does is show women who are a size 16 what they look like. The size 16 woman in this image isn't ugly or hugely obese. As a woman who is a size 14, I struggle with my body image, but I see this woman (and yes, I know she's been photoshopped), and I think, "oh, I guess I'm not so horribly fat afterall!" and my body image improves. Wow, you mean... wait, could this entire article not have been for the male gaze at all?! Yes, that's exactly what I'm getting at. The "national average one" is, in fact, the most relevant image in the entire spread.