WANG opposes valuing women based on how they look, rather than who they are and what they do. WANG also opposes the prohibitive and narrow beauty standards imposed on women that reflect racist, heteronormative, capitalist, sexist, ageist, cissexist and disableist ideologies.
Women everywhere are expected to conform: to remove their body hair, to wear make-up yet look ‘natural’. To diet, and to wear restrictive clothing. All in order to be considered acceptable, respectable and feminine. If you support women's choice to refuse these regulatory practices, then join WANG! It's not just for the unshaven and undeodorised but for anyone who believes that women shouldn't be reduced to how they look and that women do not need to be conventionally beautiful to be attractive. We are much more than our beauty, and the beauty we have is manifold. People of any/no gender are welcome too, and we support all struggles against the pressure to conform to hegemonic representations.
This tumblr is no longer affiliated with WANG the facebook group.
by Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg, TBINAA Content Intern
[The photo shows a woman’s eyes, glasses, and nose. Grey hair frames her face. The photo is in black and white and was taken at a three-quarter angle.]
For me, this picture is a major departure: it marks the first time that my gray hair frames my face in a photo. Much of my hair is still brown, but the right side is graying much more quickly than the rest. I usually wear my hair up or back, where the gray only shows like a streak on the top of my head. I am sure that I wear my hair that way because I can’t see the gray in the mirror and can live by the myth that others can’t see it either.
Of course, because I’m 5’1” and therefore shorter than most people over the age of 12, almost everyone can see it just fine. In the light of this truth, I decided to let my hair down so that I could see the gray, too. And then I took a photo. In fact, I took several.
Do I look a bit alarmed? I was.
I’m not sure why the gray alarms me. Perhaps it’s evidence of my mortality. Or perhaps it signals my relative lack of social capital in a youth-oriented culture – a youth-oriented culture for which, somewhat ironically, my baby-boomer generation is largely responsible.
Or maybe it’s far less complicated: In my head, I’m 20, and the gray just makes no sense whatsoever.
On the day that I took the pictures of my gray hair, I took many others. Most of them show the other parts of my body I’m in shock over. A few show areas that I just hadn’t wanted to look at. I’m a pretty shy person, but as I age, I’m getting more audacious, so I’ve decided to share some of the photos.
I’ll start with my belly:
[This black-and-white photo shows a woman’s bare belly, the top of her blue jeans, and the bottom of her sports bra, with her shirt held up.]
I have a particularly unhappy relationship with my belly. You might even call it a war of attrition, in which I attempt to flatten my belly past recognition, and my belly will have none of it. This conflict has gone on for decades. Somewhere along the line, I was told that my belly wasn’t supposed to stick out at all (God forbid I should take up any space!), and this ridiculous piece of indoctrination has taken its time crumbling. So my belly was, perhaps, the hardest thing to photograph.
Once I did, though, I thought, “That belly looks comfy. I think I’ll keep it.”
And then, I thought, “Wow, a baby came out of that belly!”
And then, I thought, “Okay, move on to the next scariest thing.” Which was this part of my body:
[This black-and-white photo shows the bottom part of a woman’s face with her nose, mouth, chin, and neck visible. Her mouth is in a half-smile. The area around her mouth is lined and she has lines around her throat. Her black shirt is partly visible on both shoulders.]
Look at those lines around my throat. They look like a multi-strand necklace. Look at them all! They just go on and on. And the facial hair. That’s new. Where did that come from? Menopause? Whenever I look at this photograph, I feel as though I’m looking at my grandmother. How can I be looking at my grandmother? It boggles my mind.
My grandmother, by the way, was an incredibly kind and loving woman. She was beautiful in my eyes. I never held her lines or her facial hair or anything else against her. They didn’t matter to me. Why do mine matter to me? Why do I hold them against myself? Why do I judge them at all? Why is this photo of my throat and chin so difficult for me to look at?
[This black-and-white photo shows a woman’s lined neck and chin, taken from beneath, with her head raised upward. Part of her right ear is visible, and some of her hair is visible to the right and left.]
Through the eyes of love, it wasn’t hard to see my grandmother’s face and neck. Not at all. But it’s hard to see mine.
And speaking of my grandmother, I’ve got those wrinkles going on just above my breasts, too, the same as she did.
(Yes. I just said wrinkles and breasts in the same sentence. Sit down and take a deep breath. You’ll be fine.) Here is a photo of said wrinkles (and a pretty impressive tan line):
[This black-and-white photo shows a woman’s lined neck and chest above the line of her breasts, with some of her hair visible to the sides of her neck.]
And while we’re on the subject of breasts, mine are losing the fight against gravity. It’s been going on for awhile, of course. When my kid was six, some of the neighborhood kids had a contest about which mom had the saggiest breasts. (It was one of the more hilarious moments of my kid’s childhood.) I didn’t win, but I was a contender. And that was almost 15 years ago.
I’ve wrestled with whether to show a picture of my breasts. It’s all right for men to show their breasts, but not women? No wonder so many women have distorted body images: we rarely get to see what most other women even look like. On that basis alone, I wanted to include the photo.
And then I realized how beautiful your body starts looking when you stop getting pissed off over the way that nature works. So I decided to show that beauty. It’s not conventional perky beauty, but it’s mine.
[This black-and-white photo shows a woman’s torso with her breasts and belly visible. Most of her left arm and a small portion of her right arm appear to the sides.]
It’s just a body, folks.
It gets lined.
It gets wrinkled.
It gets gray.
It means that you don’t last forever, and that it all passes.
It’s a sign that you’ve been blessed to live a long time – in a body that is beautiful because you get to experience life in it.
And there is no greater beauty than that.
[TW: abuse, eating disorders, weight loss, body policing]
Hi, I recently found this blog, and I wanted to share something that happened to me.
I’ll start off by saying that I’ve always been big. I’ve always been tall for my age and I am fairly stocky and muscular despite my height; I’m a big girl in pretty much every sense of the phrase. When I was about 11 years old, my parents separated. The divorce that followed was tumultuous, messy, and something no 11 year old should have to go through. This caused me a lot of grief and stress, so I took comfort in food. Middle school was when I started gaining a lot of weight, and I hated my body as a result. I would daydream about waking up one morning and realizing that all the fat had disappeared overnight, and now I was skinny and pretty like the other, more petite, girls. But this never happened; I have been chubby ever since.
Once I got to high school, I started to accept my body a little more. I decided that, unless my weight was directly affecting my health, there is no reason to worry about it. I was much happier after I adopted this attitude, and I felt like I had finally made peace with my body.
However, this didn’t last for long. In the spring of my sophomore year, I was 5’9”, 15 years old, and weighed 196 lbs. I felt fine and I wasn’t experiencing any health problems related to my weight. I was even on the swim and water polo teams at my school. But my (thin) parents suddenly decided that my weight was negatively affecting my health and making me feel like crap, even though I had never even mentioned my weight to them. They sat me down in this weird intervention and told me they were going to put me on a dieting program. They said they were concerned about my health and they told me I would feel much better once I lost weight. I didn’t want to do it, but being reminded of the years of hating my body made it so all I could do was cry and reluctantly agree to it. Looking back, the whole thing involved a lot of manipulation and coercion, despite their good intentions.
We went to the center for this weight loss program (it’s a well-known one, but I won’t say the name), and after weighing me and measuring my height, they determined (using BMI) that I needed to lose 46 lbs. Long story short, I ended up eating nothing but frozen microwave meals from this company for the better part of a year. I became miserable and depressed. I missed my dad’s home-cooked meals. I hated not being able to eat what everyone else was eating and I felt excluded. I began to hate my body again, too. When I stopped losing weight as rapidly as when I started and my weight plateaued, I felt like a failure. It didn’t help that I was also dealing with undiagnosed depression and anxiety at the time. People kept asking me if I felt any better after losing 20 pounds, but I didn’t feel any different physically, I just felt worse mentally. It got to a point where, after meals, I would think about going to the bathroom and forcing myself to vomit. I never actually did, fortunately, but I thought about it all the time. It scared me.
About 8 months in, my dad told me he could no longer afford to buy the planned meals anymore, and I stopped the program. This may have been true, but I think he also sensed how unhappy I was. I am now going on 17, I have not been on a diet since, and I am so much happier. Since then, I sought treatment for my mental problems and am learning to accept my body again. I’ve probably gained all the weight back, but I don’t care. I much prefer the feeling of being able to order a milkshake unapologetically and without feeling like a sinner (This is partially thanks to the body positive movement on tumblr. And people say “sjw’s” don’t accomplish anything…). I’ve realized the diet programs are bullshit and they profit off of people who have been taught by society that they won’t be loved or valued unless they are skinny. My problems haven’t disappeared, but leaving the toxic “dieting culture” behind was a great, big step in the right direction. However, it still makes me fucking livid that I was pressured into doing it in the first place, by people who care about me.
I get what your saying, but i’m not sure how useful it is to talk about what is ‘natural’. It wouldn’t matter if women added hair to their bodies. They add tattoos, piercing, hormones, change their body with surgery, dye their hair. I don’t think those things are wrong.
The way I see it, women’s body hair is acceptable just because there is no moral, ethical or political reason why they shouldn’t have hair on their bodies. And it is pretty wrong to pressure women into feeling like they should de-hair themselves, or that they are less valuable of attractive if they are have lots of body hair.
I think it can be dangerous to argue from what is ‘natural’ to what is acceptable or good.
I’m not sure how femininity is defined - you could equally say it is a cultural norm of how women should be, and I’m sure there are other ways of understanding it too.
Sorry to hear that you’re having a hard time with your body hair.
This isn’t a personal blog, so the photos on here aren’t of me.
It’s nice to know that this blog has made someone feel less alone.
I don’t know how you take your hair off, but if it hurts, have you tried other ways of removing it? Something like nair or epilation?