The original ad that I chose is for a waxing salon. They are advertising that back hair is something that is gross and should be removed for a romantic Valentines day. Although the ad itself if very cleverly created, its message is one that is not healthy. Body hair is something that society has socially conditioned us to see as gross and should be removed. The problem with this is that people should not feel pressured to change who they are, especially if they do not want to. Recently there have been many movements surrounding women’s body hair removal and showing that there in fact is the option not so shave. Hair is a sign of being “manly”, and these movements look to shatter this public perception.
Today, body hair is such a public and visible identifier of a person’s gender that even the hint of it in unexpected places, or the lack of it where it is assumed to grow, can affect how feminine or how masculine someone is perceived to be. In this ad however it describes men’s body hair as something that is gross and undesirable. Men should have hair, but keep it trimmed. Body hair has always been a target for bullying, whether it be people have too much or too little, no one can seem to get it ‘right’ enough to be accepted in society. People are already marginalized for their race or class, the possibility of being even further marginalized by any action that deviates from the norm is an ever-present risk, especially with something so visibly evident.
In my culture jam, I photoshopped the “gross” to read “fine”. The aim of this edit was to send out a message of self-acceptance, showing that it is not only normal to have body hair, but it is fine to keep it if that is what you want. Facing the problem of people being stigmatized and shamed for their body hair, I feel as though the edit helps to promote this self-acceptance. Studies have been done about women’s body hair and how it contributes to othering. I feel like this ad, although presented for men would fall under potential othering. Arizona State University professor Breanne Fahs asked female students in her class to stop shaving their legs and underarms for ten weeks. The results were that a lot of the women said they were disgusted with their own bodies, and a significant number reported feeling “dirty.” Many of the participants were also subjected to homophobia and anger from family members and partners. Certain women experienced these harsh reactions more intensely than others.
I feel that if media and social culture was more accepting of all people’s bodies, no matter if they had hair or not there would be less of a stigma surrounding this problem. The problem with body hair is not that it is there, since that is normal and should be accepted, it is that we have been socially conditioned to see it as a fault.