You guessed it. Here is this week’s silly post. Last week it was about shaved heads. This week – diamond rings and body hair.
You might be asking yourself “How are diamond rings and body hair even related?” Well, they are related by the fact that they both have an arbitrary cultural meaning that really has nothing to do with anything.
Here is a video illustrating how diamond engagement rings didn’t even exist before an advertising campaign started in 1938 by De Beers Diamond Company. It must be the most successful advertising campaign in all of history because now diamond engagement rings are just a part of our culture. And not just in America, but all over the world. Wow. That kind of blows my mind.
Ok, so what about the body hair?
Well, women and body hair is really the same thing. I don’t know who it was that decided that women should not have any visible body hair. It probably wasn’t De Beers Diamond Corporation and maybe it wasn’t in an advertising campaign, but somehow this also became just a part of our culture.
If you actually think about it, it’s really weird. Who can even come up with something so weird? The hair that grows quite naturally on our legs and in our armpits and around our secret places, for some reason this is considered unacceptable? What? Who had that idea? How did that come about the first time in history? And why on earth did a second person agree that it was a good thing to do? And then a third person, and then a whole society?
And yet, as bizarre and non-nonsensical as these societal norms may be, they are barely questioned. And what’s more – I’m sold. When I get engaged – I want a ring! Don’t go thinking you can just propose without getting down on that knee and popping one of them boxes open. It would feel weird not to have a ring on my finger (though I’d happily figure out a way to get around the whole diamond monopoly and have some other kind of stone so De Beers gets nothing!).
And I think my legs look better without any hair on them. I get frustrated with shaving and then having stubble grow back in and itch like crazy and make me feel like my legs have been bitten by a thousand tiny ants. So, then I go through the pain of pulling all my leg hairs out by the root only to have them grow back inward or side ways under my skin giving me not only little bumps and irritated hair follicles but red ugly dots as well. Either way, it’s an ongoing physical nuisance. What is the point again? Why do I do this?
I’ve internalized the cultural norm. I myself prefer my legs smooth. I think it looks prettier. Does this make me a shallow person? (no) Does this make me weak minded and conformist? (not really) Should I rebel and grow my body hair out to make a statement? (if you want) Does it really matter at all either way? (probably not)
All I can say is that I guess it’s for the same reason that I speak English or I wear jeans and t-shirts instead of walking around naked – it’s part of my culture. It’s part of the weird generally agreed upon societal norms that we all just made up. And sometimes they make sense, like wearing boots in snowy climates, and sometimes it makes no sense at all, like shaving your lady parts.
And sometimes these norms are a lot less silly than shaving your legs or buying an engagement ring. Sometimes these societal norms we just accept as reality are disempowering and oppressive and it DOES matter if you question and rebel and choose to make a new reality. Sometimes these accepted realities are world-wide – like violence between nations being an acceptable way to “resolve” conflict. Sometimes these norms are societal, like women not having the right to vote or get an education. Sometimes the norms can just be within one church, like gays and lesbians going to hell and being treated as less than human. Sometimes the norms can just be within a family, like a wife being submissive and belittled. And in each of these circumstances, it’s easy to see the wrongness looking at it from the outside. And it’s important to understand that it’s not always so easily seen from inside that reality. That is where compassion comes in.
If another intelligent species were to come to earth and see how when men and women decide to mate for life the man spends 2 months salary to buy a common crystallized carbon rock ring and how all the women spend so much time and effort and discomfort to remove all their body hair – what would it look like from the outside? That’s where I’d hope they would have compassion for us and not just think we were really really weird or just plain silly.