Why do I shave?
‘Why do I shave?’ is an honest, personal yet collaborative artist book about body hair exploring the intertwined connections of social norms, capitalism and patriarchy.
Social norms form our lives unconsciously. How many things do we do daily that we would not do without the pressure of society? Have you ever thought of why mar- riage, having kids and owning a house is considered to be the perfect and fulfilled life in Western societies? Are these things giving us joy or is it just the social pressure that makes us think this is what we need? Society expects us to do certain things and we usually fail to see and accept it if we have different needs. But why? Why do we all stand in the line surrendering to these social norms?
Visual aesthetics play a vital role in today’s Western society. We built up a society where physical appearance represents high values in our everyday life. Not only the way we consume things and engage with the internet have a connection to how we see and place ourselves in society but the way the system works and treats us. Under the word ’system’ I refer to the intertwined connection of patriarchy and capitalism. I take shaving and myself as an example and examine the question of ’Why do wom- en shave?’. The representation of women in our current society shapes our idea and opinion on shaving therefore I work with questions such as: How are social norms created and how do they influence us? What are the ways to challenge and break these norms, if it is possible at all? How can our capacity for developing autonomy remain while being influenced by the system? My practice investigates these ques- tions comprehensively and addresses the importance of discussions and the under- standing of the roots of our behavior as well as how we as individuals contribute to the influence of society and the system.
“For men body hair means masculinity, for women it means embarassment.”
— Franciska Forrai, 24
With this project, I explore the connections of capitalism and patriarchy as well as how these systems influence social norms, body aesthetics and acceptance. More specifically, I take shaving and myself as an example and examine the question of ’Why do I shave?’ I am not only challenging myself but the social norms that sur- round this topic, as well as how patriarchy and capitalism influence women’s lives when it comes to defining their own femininity.
“I would be happy to say I shave for myself but that is just not true.”
— Barbara Jászka, 24
At the beginning of the process, I started an experiment according to which I stopped shaving on all parts of my body. I grew out my body hair not only to chal- lenge the norms but myself. I believe this experiment played a big role in self-devel- opment as well as understanding what role I have in society. During this time I was writing a diary where I collected all my thoughts. I included this writing in my artist book together with a theoretical text I wrote based on my research. Furthermore, I added quotes from interviews I had with my collaborators. The whole book is hand- made including the paper. I recycled beauty magazines to make my own sheets in order to recreate the norms. I used my body hair on the cover and inside the book.
“We are marionettes of the system.”
— Katrin Schwere, 58
Change is not a static thing, it is an ongoing process that never stops. It is already happening. A step was already taken since we see women with body hair in some advertisements however the root of the advertisements are profit. If we weren’t told and reminded of the constant need of products in order to fix our ‘flaws’ this world could be a more human oriented place. Therefore, the hairlessness norm won’t change until the system changes.