Sunday, 22 April 2012

Below the Belt

Only in SL can I show off any ballet poise, and my pants
This subject was not my idea. I was on a bus in the city centre when the text came through, and when I read the proposal, I burst out laughing. The person I was with at the time looked at me, perplexed, and when I showed him the text, he shook his head and sighed. If Red thinks it's a silly/difficult/strange idea, then I'm all for it. But let me get this straight from the off: this isn't funny.

As a general rule, Second Life avatars do not have pubic hair. There is no pubic hair on any of the skins I have in my inventory, and to be perfectly honest with you, I'm not really sure if it even possible to come by a layer, tattoo or otherwise, for any of those skins that would allow me to (dare I say it?) naturalise Kitti. I know that it is possible to get them with some skins in SL, but, with some, you have to pay extra, on top of the cost of the skin, for what is essentially a natural body state. It is really strange that "waxed to complete and utter perfection" is the standard, not "I was born human and I'm pretty sure waxing hurts". 

Why is that the case - why this inversion? And why are both not equally available, in the same packet? - because I am not suggesting, either, that if you wish to alter the state of your body, you should have to pay an arm and a leg for it. Skin designers, I'm looking at you.

The issue of shaving (anything) is a difficult one, with some accounts that suggest it began in the time of the Ancient Babylonians. There were notes made by Julius Caesar about the hair of the Britons, though I believe that was more in awe of their lacking Roman-soldier buzz cuts than any real comment on their shaving habits.
I was under the assumption, though I cannot place why, that it really took off as a social norm in the 1920/30s, with women being encouraged to shave...well...everything. Maybe the Wall Street Crash was so bad, they had to rely on sales of razors..?

I have no doubt that the image of the sexually and emotionally mature woman, made seem pre-pubescent, innocent - Hell, even manageable! - is one that was created by a gender-unequal, patriarchical society, and I am aware of the trope of the hairless porn-star. I don't know which clever person came up with the idea of placing on women, and men, the time-consuming dayly chore of drastically altering the surface of their skin, but I would personally like to shake their hand.

No, really, I would. With an electric buzzer taped to my hand. Repeatedly. I have a lot of patience when I am being vengeful and vindictive.

It's crazy. The idea is crazy. The money involved is crazy. The time involved in crazy. The time spent wondering if I did a good enough job shaving my legs today to be able to wear my P.E. shorts/this dress/this skirt. The time spent wondering if I did a good enough job shaving my underarms to be able to wear this vest top today. And will I regret wearing it this evening? Despite my better reasoning, my better logic, I have bought into this culture wholesale, been brought up into it, and once you're in, it's really, really difficult to get out again. 

And I'm going to go out on a limb here - I think that women get it worse than men! I know that there are men who also seek to remove their bodily hair, but in my experiences, such is not an widespread expectation. Women are expected, generally speaking, to be hairless from the nose down. If not by the common man, then by the common lingerie designer - and the common SL lingerie designer. 

Another elegant pose as I stomp merrily through this topic
Or, worst of all, by other women, who gawp and stare in changing rooms and mutter behind their hands. In my first year at university, I was waiting for a friend of mine who was late for a rehearsal, and when she turned up, the first thing she did was not apologise and get ready to work, but launch into a tirade about how she'd seen a middle-aged woman in the showers in the gym who had not 'had the decency' to 'trim up a little, like this woman had committed treason for daring to have pubic hair. 

To return to the lingerie: as I am sure you have noticed, but were oh-so-politely refraining from saying, Kitti's smalls are just that. Small. There is no room there for anything at all. If I decided to go full-out and hunt down the most full pubic-hair tattoo anybody has ever seen (never mind that all pubic hair that appeared in a quick marketplace search has been tweezered in some way), there is no way it would fit under that tiny piece of cloth - and that isn't because I picked out the smallest bit of fabric I could find to make a point. This is a standard underwear size/shape for SL. This raises another question: if you have pubic hair, why should you hide it? If we expect it to be there, why should it be kept hidden?

Good question, perfectly valid. But I've got you. The thing about equality, and having the agency to make your own decisions about your body, is that it is my choice whether or not I want to hide it, and  I would like some control over that. Personally, if I wanted you to see, I'd take my damn underwear off. And whether I was showing you me as a comfortable and natural, or me as a potential model for the 'Venus' adverts should also be entirely my decision. And I wouldn't take my underwear off for you if I thought you were going to make a judgement about it either way, so there!

I find myself coming back to that old idea of mine - that we could/should/sometimes do use SL to recreate, ad infinitum, the best of the 'first' world. In that 'second' world, Kitti does not have to worry about shaving or waxing or trimming or plucking anything, because the SL gods have decided to do the job for her, permanently. The weight has been lifted, but for all the wrong reasons. Kitti shouldn't have to worry, because hair removal shouldn't be an issue in the first place.

I think Kitti feels a little exposed...
 If we cannot accept pubic hair when it is a two-dimensional drawing in a virtual world where it has absolutely no physical reprecussions whatsoever, how are we ever meant to reconcile ourselves with our natural bodies (and by 'reconcile', I mean 'accept', which is not necessarily the same as 'refuse to shave') in the real world?

There is so much more that I could say, but I have written a lot. I suppose the bottom line is this: keep your assumptions and your opinions out of my underwear unless I invite you in.


  1. You raise a very good point. I personally don't have a problem with girls shaving, or in this case, not shaving. I would have no problem if my girlfriend turned around and decided she didn't want to shave any more :D

  2. diddakoi sideways22 April 2012 at 17:55

    This is a great post and raises a point I hadn't even thought about in SL. As a relative newb, my first and default skin just happened to be one of Eloh Elliot's, which come with free, open source full bush *and* landing strip. So I've always had pubes in my inventory, and sometimes I wear them, and sometimes I don't- having to put on your pubes every day is only slightly less hassle than taking them off! Because I've always had the option it's not occurred to me to note how rare an option it is in SL. Now you've pointed it out, I'm feeling rather as if I'm going to wear them every day, all day, with tiny underwear, because there is something slightly sinister about their inworld absence.

  3. Good for you, Anonymous, lol :) and diddakoi...good for you too! Lol. There is no option besides "tiny underwear", is there? - bar no underwear! I think you'd cause a storm if you did that ;)

  4. Oh Kitti....I do so love your posts and I love the way you just jump right in there and talk about things that so many people, feel almost shamed and afraid to talk about....Lets face it if people did not feel such topics were somehow taboo then the issue of pubic hair in SL would be a completely mute point.

    I commend you on your never waivering ability to talk about such things regardless, and feel that in some way this ability has come from me, as I have always had the ability to offer TMI, on a variety of subjects - thankfully none of them on a particularly personal level.....

    Keep it up - I am impressed!

  5. Blame SL, dear. Our crotches have fewer polygons than our left nostrils. There are only so many sorts of underwear that work. However, if you would like nice "undertheres" on the underwear layer, contact the owner of {frick} - some of her skins come with them although I don't know if there are in any of the packages she currently has. Sephora skins are natural.. in a limited sense. Landing strips.

    But for a proper "power bush" that doesn't stretch strangely, you need to go with prims, which is awkward. Janzoe does it, but you will need mesh undies now, and there, well, that's an area foreign to me. :)

  6. Thank you for your comment, DeNovo :). I think SL is definitely playing a role in this subject, but once again, it is symptomatic of the wider world we live in. And there's a danger there, I think, in this sense of virtual "freedom" - it looks like a funny kind of freedom to me.

    Thank you for the shopping advice - I wasn't really sure where I would have to go should I want to find such things, and I felt like I ought to supply that kind of information when I made this post. So thanks :)


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