Sometimes I get vaguely annoyed by posts that basically say “Hey, not shaving is cool! You don’t have to support the patriarchy!” There’s a sort of peer pressure inherent in these messages that in some ways are as insidious as the messages the mainstream media sends about beauty standards. The thing is, not everyone has the luxury to buck the system. I’m not going to call it privilege, because I’m not entirely sure that’s the right word, but it’s something similar.
Some people have to conform to some beauty standards because of the type of work they do or the culture of the industry/organization they work in. Not all of those people are economically privileged. Some are, but don’t necessarily have options to move into a more relaxed industry/environment, either because they’re kind of lucky to have a job in the first place at the moment or because they’re doing what they do.
Then there is the fact that many trans* people who want to pass for female also may not have an option to not shave. For some people, not shaving might be downright dangerous. So, it seems to me the message of “fuck the patriarchy! fuck beauty standards” is probably pretty threatening. (I will note that I am cisgender, so I don’t know that this is the case, but it seems logical.)
And finally, there’s the fact that as a fat woman, I don’t necessarily have the luxury to buck the beauty standards without facing potential repercussions Particularly since I work in a conservative industry. I’m not going to take the risk that bucking the culture of my workplace is not going to result in my not being taken seriously because of other people’s internalized stereotypes about fat people. Because not being taken seriously can have economic consequences in some work places, either because you get passed over for promotions or raises or even because people can (will) find ways to force you out of your job. It won’t be overtly due to how you choose to dress or groom yourself, but that will be the underlying reason. It happens.
I’m not saying that people shouldn’t have bodily autonomy to do what they please with their body hair. I don’t particularly care what other people choose to do about shaving their legs, etc. I just think that sometimes the body acceptance and/or fat acceptance movements can exert their own pressure. And perhaps that within the movement, those who have the ability to “buck the system” either by virtue of their profession or their age or their environment are over-privileged. Or maybe over represented. It’s not just shaving- there are other things I have noticed, like nude/partially clothed self-portraits and some aspects of fatshion that I think may have similar effects. Shaving just caught my eye tonight.
(I am supportive of both movements. But that doesn’t mean I think they always get it right or that they should not be critiqued)