The Hairy Manifesto is a new manifesto for the hairy body. Eleanor Tennyson makes the case for hairiness in a genre-defying investigation into hair and lies, borders and reckless bodily ecologies, unlocking the smothering embrace of a ‘choice’ based brand politics.
I write to and of the ‘we’ of humanity that amputates or has amputated its body hair. This manifesto proposes a new state of being: hairiness. This is not a manifesto about the hair of the head but the hair that occupies the different landscapes of the body — neck-down. The hair that is predominantly private, I write with and of the hair beneath the layer, the hair suspended between us. The hair that could appear at any moment. The hair we think we control. The hair that is up for sale. That which slides between modalities of private and public. That underneath the powers of common enforcement, the hair under surveillance. Hairlessness means capital for someone, somewhere. Not us though. But the invisible someone, this is our oppressor. Hairlessness is laboured time, hairlessness distracts you from us, hairlessness is clear manipulation. Hairiness now. We are waiting here for you. Waiting to smell you, taste you and be with you as co-bodies. Let us use our time differently, open it up. End depilation. Opening time not for more work but rather for ringlets of growth. This manifesto is gentle. This manifesto is drafted out of love. Let us think differently. Let us think.
This is not an end, this is a process that never ends. Hairiness is unmaking and hairiness is world building. We will let our hair decide what this means. Hairiness is a futurism. Hairiness is now. Is this document another form of cultural enforcement? Yes this is. This a cultural coercion to end cultural coercion. If one person dwindles, we all dwindle. You do not get away with this. No angels exist. Only devils. No more bullshit. No more artifice. No more illusions. Life will not imitate deceit. We must move together like the ape cousins we are. Not as a category, but as one body with encoded corridors and crevices. A body that moves and entangles in ourselves and our complicated politics. Maybe one day we can begin depilating again, once the social norm is lifeless. This day marks the end of the cultural production of removal — I challenge us to move forward and intertwist. No longer does a blade or cream touch our skin with the hope of aesthetic removal. Trust. This manifesto marks the end of removal. Hairy fascism. Hairiness now. I invite you to outgrow this manifesto.
THE PRACTICE OF HAIR REMOVAL IS A FORM OF LABOUR
THERE IS AN OPPRESSOR THAT IS INVISIBLE
THERE IS AN OPPRESSOR THAT MAKES MONEY FROM YOUR HAIR
THERE IS AN OPPRESSOR WHO WE CANNOT TRACE
THERE IS AN OPPRESSOR WHO ARRIVES HISTORICALLY
THERE IS AN OPPRESSOR THAT WE CANNOT TRACE
THERE IS AN OPPRESSOR IN THE NAME OF INSTITUTION
THERE IS AN OPPRESSOR THAT IS INVISIBLE
THERE IS AN OPPRESSOR IN THE NAME OF PROFIT
I. Aesthetic Labour
Society in its current state is hairless. One person walks into a hospital with razor blade cuts on their body and another cut up, razor bumped person walks on to a penis. I wish I could differentiate between each person, but I sadly cannot. The wound each person holds is identical, their blood | pain component parts of same process. The feelings – the same. Each wound originates from the same symbolic site, cut, cut, cut — “I need to be better”. The Hairy Manifesto acknowledges our mutual imperfection as a form of perfection. The Hairy Manifesto is anti-correctional. Picture the act: blood trickling down the body, merging with the stinging water in the drain. It is a crimson life. Why do we go on allowing the body to be available as a site for constant refurbishments? End this normative cruelty. Although no one apparently knows when humans first began the process of hair removal. Attempts have been made to trace it back to prehistoric cave drawings in which men appeared without beards. Historian R.B. Adams notes that following the invention of a flint razor, Egyptian males were recorded to have shaved their faces and heads. The reason being war, in a combat situation a smooth head and face deprived the enemy of a handhold grip. This does not surprise us, it has always been war. Men remove their hair to face battle, women remove their pussies for their own war. It has always been war, you must remember this. During this lifetime, neoliberalism has extended market principles into all areas of life which has proliferated the opportunity to invest in the body. The body now is an asset, a stock product, a brand, and a quasi-path to demonstrate one’s economic freedom. With this, new technologies have designed the body to be eternally hairless. These new technologies such as smart-phone cameras and round the clock advertising have intensified hair magnification and scrutiny. Our times are unprecedented, the hairy-body is constantly in the lab of surveillance — where the ubiquitous image-posting has no end. We gaze at images of other bodies with a wide set of emotions: resentment, desiring, bitter, disgusted, envious, anxious, hostile, etc. The greatest marble statues of Ancient Greece did not depict pubic hair on women, nor any labia because the artist thought it “uncivilised”. I often hear friends repeat synonyms for the “uncivilised” argument today, “I forgot to shave”, “I was being lazy”, “I am all stubbly”, “It’s gross”.
It was Darwin himself who suggested female body hair opposed evolution. Darwin now sponsored by a razor company under the guise of “feminist choice”. There is no such thing as choice inside the current invisible war. Who is making money? Who is happy with their physical form? It certainly isn’t us. I write today to cure, I write today to raise awareness. Watch your surveillance. Think. The human body and society can renew, we must move toward the renewable. The ‘hairless imperative’ has developed itself to be an ultimate measure of beauty and perfection which work in tandem with economic success. We have been fooled to live thinking we must remove certain patches of hair on our body, this is a clear neurosis. We would not remove the hair on our body unless we had been socialised to hate ourselves, for what we “are”. The way we feel, our emotions toward our body do not exist as “feelings” themselves but as social and cultural practices. We live inside a culturally generated body filled up on of self-disgust.
The hairy body has become equated with the signifiers = imperfect, dirty, lazy, unsuccessful (jobless, assetless, houseless). AKA all of the horrors which would accompany the circumstances of not being able to afford a razor. This has created psychological addiction loop: hair, ew. Shave, yes. Hair, ew. Shave, yes. We must end the addiction cycle today, the first step is acknowledgement. If someone fails to depilate they will be subject to interactional sanctions: shame, guilt, ridicule, surprise etc. There is a devastating social price for being hairy, and that price means we must respect, serve and enforce the depilation norm. Such self-scrutiny is leading us to treacherous levels of envies, and a difficulty to identify with others. Gagged by our pain, bodiless, formless, we are beggars to ourselves. I demand you to return to the self immediately. Yes to self-fashioning, no to shame.
The follicle is battered and beaten sometimes daily, sometimes for the special “event”. Economic and social forces have successfully conditioned us to hate what we truly “are”: wild entities that must grow. Let us transgress, all of us, together. Come and transgress with me.
The OED defines ‘Wild’ — grow or develop without restraint or discipline.
I must ask the question why is it so terrifying to be hairy? Here I open the linguistic vortex on ‘wild’. I take the words of Jack Halberstam to guide us forward to ethical growth and world-building,
Wildness [or I may add hairiness as a synonymic entity] names simultaneously a chaotic force of nature, the outside of categorisation, unrestrained forms of embodiment, the refusal to submit to social regulation, loss of control, the unpredictable. This sequence suggests a romantic wild, a space of potential, an undoing that beckons and seduces. But, obviously, the wild has also served to name the orders of being that colonial authority comes to tame: the others to a disastrous discourse of civilisation, the radicalised orientation to order, the reifying operations of racial discourse (wild “things”). For this reason, to work with the wild is also to risk reengaging these meanings. I take the risk here because wildness offers proximity to the critiques of those regimes of meaning, and it opens up the possibility of unmaking and unbuilding worlds. (Halberstam, 2020: 3-4).
Hairiness proposes boundary collapse— a new state of existing by exposing the taxonomic limits that are steadily available to the conservative world. The practice of the razor-blade appears to signify something in our society of “civilisation” , and the “civilised” — hairiness troubles these terms. This manifesto believes that there is no such thing as a lone body, only a body made in relation to others— we occupy our body in a far reaching tapestry of bodies. We exist alongside: informed, occupied, watched and copied. This manifesto believes we must move as one against the market. The Hairy Manifesto is a love-language. We will soon understand the dark forest of our follicle is a place of protection, of safety, of care. It is a protective buffer, a cushion, a gate-keeper to the body and a pathway to magic that never has an ending.
It is now we all must choose to be hairy, to return the body and psyche to ourselves — to become and to continue becoming. It is time we must do this. Find hair. I propose that we embrace the existence to which the destination is unknown. This is the Hairy Manifesto. It is time to revolutionise desire. I invite you to outgrow me.