‘Those Pesky Dames’ are a YouTube sensation. These lovely ladies make video blogs to discuss and share with the world real feminism, natural beauty, embarrassing bodies and many subjects most of us don’t debate enough about! What makes us beautiful? Why do women shave their legs? Is feeling self-conscious ‘normal’? At Reasons To Be Beautiful, Those Pesky Dames talk body issues, beauty and how to be honest with yourself. The group has decided to answer our questions as a whole through e-mail.
[pullquote_right]“We wanted to create a visible safe space for women to vocalize and discuss their experiences of gender; opening up feminism as something that’s relevant to everyone, and still very much needed.” [/pullquote_right]
Reasons to Be Beautiful: Could you please introduce all the girls of Those Pesky Dames, and why you chose the name?
Those Pesky Dames: Those Pesky Dames are currently Becca (Monday), Holly-Rae (Tuesday), Jenn (Thursday) and Emily (Friday). We will also be welcoming a new Dame next week, taking the vacant Wednesday spot held by past Dame India in our first few videos, which is very exciting.
Choosing the name was pretty difficult. We went through so many different suggestions.
Eventually, after exhausting our bank of feminist puns (“Femistry” or “MissInterpret”, anyone?) our love for Scooby Doo won over. We all really liked the idea of Patriarchy personified, sitting on the floor and shaking his fist, shouting, “And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for Those Pesky Dames!”
RTBB: How did ‘Those Pesky Dames’ start and develop?
TPD: It was Becca who sparked the whole thing off; she messaged the other Dames, as well as a number of our other feminist friends, to see if they’d be interested in starting up a collaborative ‘Vlog’ channel.
Becca had seen a video on another all female collaborative YouTube channel, the Sarcaschicks, in which one of the women discussed body image anxiety and how she felt it held her back. The video was so open and honest, and the comments were filled with messages of support and thanks from women who felt exactly the same. We wanted to take that idea and run with it.
We wanted to create a visible safe space for women to vocalize and discuss their experiences of gender; opening up feminism as something that’s relevant to everyone, and still very much needed.
RTBB: What is your mission throughout 2012?
TPD: To get more people talking about and identifying with feminism as an every-day relevant movement, and promote the voices and experiences of those less frequently heard and often ignored.
RTBB: I recently saw a video about your opinions on body hair. Why do women hate body hair?
TPD: Women hate body hair because we’ve been socialised to hate body hair. We’re subjected to the idea, from a very young age, that body hair is a ‘masculine’ trait and that in order to be ‘feminine’ we must be hairless. That female body hair is somehow ‘dirty’ or ‘smelly’ in a way that male body hair mysteriously isn’t. That female body hair is somehow unnatural and that we must remove it in order to be ‘naturally’ beautiful.
These messages are all the more reinforced on the rare occasion that a woman is seen to defy the code of ‘natural feminine beauty’ by letting her body hair show. These women are without exception insulted and degraded by men and women alike. People will ask if they forgot to perform the apparently mandatory process of hair removal, or will accuse them of laziness, because the idea that they could choose to let their body hair grow is unthinkable.
Our argument isn’t that women should keep their body hair, but that they should be able to do so without facing public vilification and degradation. We mainly just want women to consider for themselves why they remove their body hair, and whether they actually want to or not.
RTBB: What are your thoughts on non-surgical beauty treatments, such as lazer hair removal, skin peels, botox etc?
TPD: There’s a lot of pressure to live up to a mythical beauty ideal and some people will use whatever means necessary to fit in with that, even if it means painful or potentially harmful procedures. The problem isn’t the act of getting a skin peel but instead the patriarchal, sexist and often trans-phobic reactions to body hair and female aging that cause women to want to get these treatments.
These procedures prey on insecurities and offer a quick-term solution against the prejudices of others. If a person chooses to use these procedures, either because they make them feel more confident, comfortable or beautiful, it shouldn’t reflect badly on them as a person. What you choose to do with your own body is entirely your business and no one else’s. We just want to expose the social pressures that make women feel they have to use these procedures, and hopefully encourage people to consider whether they are something they really want to use or not.
[pullquote_left]“There’s a lot of pressure to live up to a mythical beauty ideal and some people will use whatever means necessary to fit in with that, even if it means painful or potentially harmful procedures.”[/pullquote_left]
RTBB: What does a girl need in order for her to be beautiful?
TPD: The myth that people ‘need’ anything in order for them to be beautiful is inherently flawed, and one that’s used to make people think they’re not beautiful, but they could be if they changed certain parts of themselves to fit the proposed beauty ideal.
This is how women are made to feel that they need to wear make up, shave their body hair, bleach their skin, tan their skin, weigh less, tone their body, decrease the size of their waist and increase the size of their curves etc. It’s used to create a climate of misery, and a sense of something lacking, something that can then be commodified and sold to people under the guise of increasing their happiness.
What’s beautiful to one person will not be to another; bodies come in all colours, shapes, sizes and variations, and they are all uniquely beautiful in their own way. A more pertinent question is what does a girl need in order for her to feel beautiful, a large part of which would be acceptance and a wider variety of positively depicted body types in the media.
RTBB: Individually; what are your most embarrassing body nightmares?
Becca: There are a number of things about my body I find “embarrassing”, but only because they don’t fit the unrealistic beauty ideal women are held to. At one point a few years ago I didn’t feel I could even leave the house without wearing make-up, now that’s embarrassing. My actual nightmares are usually about spiders, but they don’t shave their legs either.
Holly: Being asked that question.
Jenn: I have clammy hands which I find embarrassing, does that count?
Emily: I’ve got one fat foot and have to wear a compressive stocking. It’s not that embarrassing, it’s just my body. Does make pale tights a bit of an issue though..
RTBB: Beautiful ladies, have you any advice for us beauty bloggers?
TPD: Wear your make up and put on face masks and paint your nails if that makes you happy. If it doesn’t make you happy, do something else. There’s more to women than mascara; beauty is about being, not about buying.