For Emma, Forever Ago

Feminist Art

It wasn’t really forever ago, but it was for Emma and I was listening to Bon Iver a lot today to help me through my marking pile. I love the lyrics to Skinny Love. The imagery sits right in the sweet spot between impenetrable and stating the obvious.

This poem is less subtle but more cheerful. It came from the fact that, a couple of times this year, I have grown out my armpit hair. Although I am most certainly a feminist I wouldn’t say the origins of me growing out my armpit hair was a FEMINIST STAND. It just got a little long and people started noticing it. So I let it grow longer and people noticed it more. Four months in, it led to snickers from my students when I was writing on the board and a range of responses from my friends and colleagues which mainly expressed bemusement, disgust or annoyance at my silly attempt to ‘make a point’.

I wasn’t really trying to make a point, but what I learned was everyone has an opinion on female armpit hair, even though it’s a thing that all grown up women have unless they choose to get rid of it. Hardly anyone preferred or was indifferent to the armpit hair (shout out to Joz who was positively nonchalant) and most people felt, ironically, that it was just unnatural. I couldn’t really think of any other thing that people (certainly men) are universally expected to get rid of if they don’t want to seem unusual and like they are ‘trying to make a point’.  Although people have their preferences, I believe the pubic bush remains a safe lifestyle choice. For now.

Anyway, I wrote this for Emma because when I suggested she grew hers out she told me that hers was much more heavy duty than mine and that “a tribe would move in”. I liked this idea a lot.

What are your thoughts on women with armpit hair?

Emily x

The Day The Tribe Moved In To Emma’s Armpits or R.I.P. BIC: 1993-2014

The day they moved in was a sight to be seen,
Her armpits were happy as they’d ever been.
Grinning she plaited hair pillows and covers,
And took welcome gifts of eggs, milk and sugar.

The tribe baked a pound cake and gave her a slice,
Not just for the gifts but for being so nice.
They sat round and chatted with cups of sweet tea.
Emma was happier than she knew she could be.

“This neighbourhood’s really lookin’ up” they said;
“We’d been here before but the whole place was dead:
No streetlamps or gardens or bakery fresh bread,
No hand plaited pillows to rest our wee heads.”

“No matter,” chimed Emma, “You’re here now to stay,
The old feelin’s changin’; this new one’s made way.
“I’ve thrown out the razor, my fake tans gone too,
Screw anti-ageing cream! It’s gone down the loo.

This neighbourhood’s a changin’, tell all you know
Read this how you please y’all but: I’m letting go.”

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