Wednesday, May 31, 2006



I had a dilemma about it but in the end decided to remove my armpit hair (I have long dark thick hair there). I used hair-removing cream first - I left it on a lot longer than it said to and it still left quite a bit behind. I then shaved the next morning and realised I probably should have just done that in the first place. Interestingly, what with buying the cream and then faffing about with the skin test and then using it and then having to shave to get a full removal - I must have spent about 2 hours on it. It really does take up your leisure time.

I had one reason - I was the bridesmaid for my sister last weekend and the dress was strapless.

I did not think I looked bad - I was worried that all the traditional/ conservative folk at the event might be more interested/ disgusted/ talkative about my pit hair than the beautiful bride. It did mean I was not worried about what people thought, so I was relaxed.

I also wore a tiny bit of make-up - mascara. That was odd - I looked so different when I see photos. I forgot how much it changes you. Basically I felt under pressure to conform, and when I did, it helped me fit in which reduced my anxiety. Complicated eh?

My hair's all growing back now, and I felt weird for a day or so, but then got used to it. I might de-hair them again when (if) it gets hot. I don't think there's likely to be another occasion ever when I would do so for appearance sake.

It was a fantastic day. T and I are fairly anti-weddings. We have not really ever been to a good one - except this one - it was particularly personal and relaxed.

It was as weddings go - quite moving and I understood why they were doing it, I think. I was very flattered to be asked to be a witness/ bridesmaid for my sister and her lovely partner, and as I quite like dressing up, I enjoyed the frock!

So - no matter how strong my principles are sometimes it's just too hard. That does not feel very good - in many circumstances oppression is based on prejudice about something that can't be chosen. I was very lucky to be able to choose to change myself temporarily.

Nicola Smith....

is the new national Co-Director for Learning Disability in the Department of Health. Read an interview with her in the Guardian.

She is working with Rob Greig to challenge the social exlusion of people with learning disabilities.

This is the first time that anyone with a learning disability has ever held a senior government post!

One of the main reasons she feels qualified for the post is her experience of living in a hospital for some time. In her words "it was very grim". She is concerned to hasten the closure of all the last hospitals and "campus" NHS homes. Another aim of hers is to address the removal of children from learning disabled parents.

I am looking forward to finding out how she gets on - I also am interested in how the Co-Directors will work together - another first I think.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

how much time do you spend at leisure?

I mentioned yesterday that some of my favourite photographs in the Masquerade exhibition are of women with moustaches. I have talked about hair a bit before here in this post on the Beauty Myth.

I have just read an article from the Guardian on the 4th May based on a speech given by Germaine Greer about leisure time. There is a big difference between the way men and women use their leisure time. Basically women don't have "leisure" pursuits - we work when we are not doing paid work - either doing housework or volunteering or doing beauty work....some of that is to do with hair.

"The time they don't spend working for the employer and the taxman they spend doing something called "housework", to which, for most women between the ages of 25 and 50, may be added "childcare". There is also the onerous task of body maintenance, keeping the otherwise disgusting female body clean, tidy, deodorised, made up, not to mention toned and becomingly clad, plus the exhausting, sometimes painful and expensive business of hair and hairiness management. Work, all of it.....

Older women, whether they play bingo or break out the camp stove, are heavily involved in leisure, but theirs is cut-price leisure. They are not in the market for recreational vehicles, or powerboats, or even motel accommodation. They are the people who make possible literary festivals and antique fairs, who support local art galleries and museums, who volunteer for every community chore, and happily raise money for what they believe to be good causes, giving, giving, giving of their time free. If we had a way of quantifying the output of the leisure industry of older women, we would probably see that it contributes vastly more to the GDP than the corporate leisure industry."

I spent such a large part of my life dealing with hair from puberty until my mid 20's that I feel certain one of the reasons I now have time for real leisure, such as singing in the LoudMouth Women singing group I am part of, is because I don't remove hair anymore. Neither do I wear any make-up. How many hours do you think you spend "working" on your body image?

Saturday, May 06, 2006


Iris is the Research centre within the Faculty of Arts, Media and Design at Staffordshire University with a focus on:
  • the initiation of conferencing, publishing, exhibiting and educational projects within the field of contemporary women’s’ photographic practice, and
  • broadening access to the medium through books, exhibitions and educational activities.

Today was the launch of an exhibition curated by IRIS called Masquerade, at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery. Masquerade brings together the work of 7 women photographers from Britain and the USA, and features all kinds of contemporary portraits. The show also compares photographs in Masquerade with paintings from the Museum's collections.

The show has already been in London and Birmingham. It is heartening to see an exhibition of national significance led by Staffordshire/ Stoke-on-Trent women and organisations.

There are some challenging pieces - one artist photographed her mother in her last months with Alzheimer's. The 6 portraits of women with moustaches are truly beautiful. Apparently when the exhibition was in the MAC in Brimingham there were complaints about these portraits including "disgusting". Why do openly hairy women offend people so much?

Masquerade is on until the 9th July. Get there if you can.