Monday, December 10, 2012

Cartoon 33: Still Thinking About Body Hair

The Arawak, indigenous people of the Sierra Nevada in Colombia, believe that our body is a representation of the Earth. Our hair represents the jungles and if we cut it off, we are throwing our bodies and therefore the Earth out of balance.  When they do cut their hair, it is traditional to take it to the river as an offering.  As they drop it in, they speak the words, "We are one", reminding themselves that we are just another part of nature.
 The particular sect of Taoist monks that I visited in Duitama believed that our hair acts as our antenna.  It can allow us to perceive our surroundings and the world with more depth.  Cutting it off is like loosing our whiskers.
In Bogota, often even the men shave their armpits.  Mine were particularly bushy when I was there and two girls that I was working with pulled me aside one day and timidly said, "SeƱora Sara, do you know that in Colombia it´s seen badly to have armpit hair?"  Based on my example, I think they thought that all women in the U.S. sport bushy armpits hehehe. I giggled a bit and said, "Yes, it´s that way in most of the cultures I´ve lived in, but it's important for me to choose for myself what I like." I explained how important it is to accept and celebrate ourselves exactly as we are, hairy and round and sometimes even stinky. I was surprised when they said they had never heard anything like that before and I appreciated my mom and her wonderful earthy woman friends.  (Just for the record, I still shave. However, through this exploration I have lost the shame that I once felt to lift up my arms or show my legs if I hadn´t been able to shave for a few of days. Heck yeh.)
An indigenous group in the Amazon called the Ticuna practice a ritual called the Pelacao. When a young woman gets her first period, she goes into a room with only women for three days.  There, they feed her and talk to her and care for her and they pluck out all of her hair a strand at a time.  They explained to me that this is a right of passage and a symbol for excepting that being a woman is difficult and we have to be tough.  Now with more emphasis on childrens rights, they often just cut the girls hair.
On Taquile, an island in Lago Titicaca on the border between Peru and Bolivia,    as soon as they are married the indigenous women began to collect the hair that falls out when they brush or comb it.  They give this hair to their new husband and eventually, when there is enough, he combines it with wool and weaves himself a belt!  How romantical!!

With all these different ideas it´s been interesting to ask myself, "So what does hair mean to me?" I know that sounds like kind of a weird question but after sharing time with some groups that find meaning in everything, it seems clear to me that although we dont necessarily assign it consciously, everything does have meaning and its added a lot of meaning to my life to make conscious and choose what I want things to mean for me.  Does that make sense??

1 comment:

  1. i love you hairy or not! conflicted or settled! i think you should have your hair however you want it regardless of mysticism or other people's judgement. you're berdaful!