Monday, September 04, 2006


[This is going to be a girlie post, so you fellas might want to stop reading now!]

Back in the days when, eternal optimist that I was, I attempted to teach French in UK secondary schools [my students being convinced that I had personally invented the language in order to make their lives difficult] I would start off the youngest classes by asking, "Now, what do you know about France?" I'd get, "It ain't in Britain, is it?"; "They make smelly cheese"; "They got the leaning tower of pizza " [nice try, kid, but geography and vocabulary a little off the mark]; and "My Dad says they're all w*****s". But by far the most common response was, "The women don't shave their armpits, do they?" Indeed, one class was so obsessed by this topic that I fear I imparted no French, no French culture and no eagerness to visit our Gallic neighbours all year; in July, as in the previous September, all those kids wanted to know about was the shaving habits of the women.

Here in Italy the problem besets me: with regard to legs and bikini area , particularly legs , there is no question - wax! But when it comes to the underarms, there seems to be no norm; some do and some don't. I was told as a teenager that continental men find the unshaven armpit sexy and you do see women with great tufts of the black stuff going around in their sleeveless dresses. I have also read that it is unhealthy to shave this area. The only near-convention that I observe appears to be that, in general, younger women do and older women don't. There's a feminist issue too, of course, but I'll leave that bit for now.

So what do I do? I've come to a compromise: underarms - shave [less hassle, no allergic reaction that way and no one gives a toss in Italy how clear you are there]; everywhere else - wax - upper lip and jawline included. [The beauticians here, as in the UK, don't know why I worry about facial hair as what little I have is very blond. But when you've been a menopausal teacher in a UK school, have caught the light on your face and had some 11-year-old shout out that you "need a shave", you are apt to become over-sensitive about the matter.]

What do women in other parts of the world do? How many of us truthfully enjoy summer, always fearing the tiniest fraction of regrowth of a hair in the wrong place? And why is nature so unfair to women in this affair anyway? Tell me what you think. Me, I herald the autumn with relief!


beethoven writes said...

I just want you to know that I have not read this entry, ok?

Welshcakes Limoncello said...


Anonymous said...

My 13-year-old son says exactly the same as your pupils did to you, I think I look pretty ok, but he seems to have microscopic eyes. I did enjoy this post, I think the injuredcyclist did too.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Ellee, I'm so glad it's not just me!

Maria said...

Oh gosh! I can't imagine not shaving! M

Ballpoint Wren said...

Pat, I HATE shaving. But I am a hairy woman, and the norm here is shave or be the object of much ridicule.

When Julia Roberts was photographed waving at a crowd of fans, all the magazines could say about her was, "HAIRY PITS!" And if Julia can't get away with it, then I sure as heck know I can't.

If I could get out of shaving, I would. If I could afford that laser treatment, I'd do it, but not electrolysis, because I am a big baby and they wouldn't be able to hold me down, no matter what I paid them.

Oh, and I tried waxing once, too. They couldn't hold me down for that, either. The biggest baby in town, that's me.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, M. Hi, Bonnie. It's like that in the UK too - you have to depilate or be an object of scorn. I tried electrolysis a few years ago, then realised I was as frightened of it as a dentist's drill, so gave that up! I can truly say it was one of the most horriblr experiences of my life.


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