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Be Brave, Don't Shave

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I haven't blogged in a while. I've never been much good at this blogging thing. Half the time I have no idea what to say; the other half, I simply have no time in which to say it.

But anyway, blogging tumbleweed aside, I thought I'd leap back into the ring by writing something about the hairy furore that's currently doing the rounds.

A writer called Emer O'Toole penned a piece for Vagenda magazine where she said that she had given up shaving for a year or so; she went on to say that she actually rather liked it, her boyfriend grew to love it and all-in-all, it wasn't quite the gross-fest that she might have expected. The piece was bounced back and forth between Twitter until it came to a suitable degree of public attention that it made it on to the modern day equivalent of the old Roman forums - This Morning.

Sat on the sofa next to a super-groomed lady who admitted to finding body hair a bit gross, Emer was asked by hosts Eamon and Ruth to demonstrate how much of a Hairy Mary she was. She flashed her armpits and legs with pride. The expressions of Eamon and Ruth's faces was priceless - half-horror, half-curiosity, rather as if she was some kind of King Kong export and we were back in 1930s America, with a load of scientists poking her with sticks and wondering if she was in any way related to the Yeti. Or something.

Cue global reaction, with readers from around the world all leaping on to - where else - a certain newspaper's website to make their points heard about the, er, issue. Whilst some readers were encouraging - you go, girl! - the majority were quick to dismiss her as gross, revolting and plain ol' unsexy for refusing to shave her bits.

Shaving is a recent phenomenon. 100 years ago, women probably couldn't have cared less. Five hundred years ago, they certainly didn't (they didn't even wash that often, back then, believing overt cleanliness to be a trigger of disease). And yet in the 21st century, when we're all so super empowered, and independent, and free to express ourselves, etc. etc., we are looked upon as lepers if we show so much as a hair.

As Emer points out in her article, hair removal is tedious, expensive and often painful. We can thread our eyebrows into shape, get love hearts stencilled on to our bikini line and and have our upper lips waxed. However, leaving things au natural is.

Raise your arm and expose an armpit of hair? STAY BACK, SATAN! The fact that Julia Roberts - she of Notting Hill fame - didn't shave once was, indeed, so shocking that we are still struggling to come to terms with it 10 years on.

Society rules that women should be glossy, groomed and smooth. Not glossy, groomed and slightly-stubbly. Remember that bit in the Sex and the City film where the ginger one (can't remember her name) get's chased away from the pool (kind of) by Samantha because she hasn't 'dealt with' her bikini line? But it's okay, because the ginger one then puts a hat or something across her lap so we are no longer subjected to her repulsive hairiness. Thanks for the empowerment, sisters.

Whilst I very much admire Emer's sentiments and envy her the confidence it takes to knock convention on its head, I somehow doubt that the other girls and I - who are so quick to leap to her defence - will be joining her. Which I think says more society than it does about us.