November 3, 2009

In Defense of Face Shaving, Part 1

I get this bizarre, masochistic sort of amusement whenever I see an article about the Esquire covers that have featured female models "shaving" their faces. There have been two such covers. The rationale of the art direction behind those covers was, apparently, to tap into the appeal of a woman flaunting a little masculine power. Kinda brave, I think. Still objectifying, maybe, but interesting. The concept has managed to keep people talking.

When I do the odd Google image search to see what artists and photographers are doing with the subject of bearded women--and for heaven's sake have your safe search on when you're doing this!--I'll inevitably see one of these covers, so I'll click to find out what people are saying about it.

And one day (this was months ago now) I came across a beauty news entry referencing an "Ask Ying" MSN Lifestyle article, which as much as I try I cannot get to load to see the entire answer to the question. The question was, "Do models shave their faces? Their skin always looks so smooth!" Marie Claire's Beauty Director answers:

"Absolutely not, and you shouldn’t either. Face shaving is such a masculine act that it can be psychologically confusing to do as a woman. If you feel like you have excess hair on your face, try waxing, plucking, using depilatories, or laser hair removal. You can also ask your doctor for Vaniqa, a prescription cream that slows hair growth in about four to six weeks. But you shouldn’t obsess over a little peach fuzz. I’ve definitely seen my share of it on models’ faces. The reason you haven’t is because facial hair is pretty much always retouched out of photos."

First of all, I want to cynically tip my hat to a world where blond, vellus, "normal" facial hair is retouched out of photos. Obviously it's causing girls without hirsutism to wonder if they should be shaving their faces, to be discontent with something that is completely normal. Good job.

And secondly, what I want to know is, has this beauty director tried it? Has she met a woman who needs to remove facial hair on a daily basis? I would say having a dark, coarse beard is the part that might cause some psychological turmoil. The method of removal, what a woman does have control over, should be the lady's choice. It is, to some, a method of survival, and I don't think anyone should discourage her from something that's not going to harm her.

I have used a few different methods in my time and have always found shaving to be the quickest, less invasive, and most effective method. On top of preferring this "masculine act," I actually have a beard. Yet that certainly doesn't make me confused about my gender. As much as I hate shaving, I try to get over that part of my day and get on with life as a full fledged female.

Of course, if I didn't need to shave, I wouldn't do it. My skin would certainly do better if I didn't. It doesn't make your hair grow back thicker and darker, but it does make it feel prickly because the hair shaft is now cut bluntly, and then you have redness, dryness and ingrown hairs to worry about. However, I was fascinated to find out (on a blog that no longer exists for me to credit it) that some women do elect to shave their face--their entire face except for eyebrows--as part of a beauty regimen. Apparently this is a traditional offering at some Japanese salons.

Shaving does remove dead skin cells as well as hair, so some people are doing it as a method of exfoliation (this is a four-year-old article on it). How's that for a twist?

My original rant got rather long so I've split it in two parts. Up next, what the average person seems to think about women who shave their faces, and I continue to get my knickers in a knot. ;P


Sophie said...

i cant write a comment... i am still laughing... that shaving can confuse one as to which gender they are... oh my got, i am pissing my pants. does it work the other way, too? as in: those blokes who dont shave - do they sometimes think they might be women...
i want to talk to this beauty advisor, i really do...
i will write more when i stopped laughing.

Allerleirah said...

Hehehe! I felt that way too when I first read it. I would agree there is something masculine about shaving my face, but it's certainly not confusing, nor any reason not to do it.

Sophie said...

oooh oh, i did not shave this morning and i felt like a man all day. what does it mean? do they have a psychologist at marie-claire whom i could contact for help?

Sophie said...

ps. have you read the comments???

oh my.... im so happy i decided to live in my own world...

Allerleirah said...

I try not to read the comments. The ignorance is more disturbing than the article itself.

And then there are the people who sound off because they need to shave and they want help. It was so long ago... it bothers me wondering if they ever found help.