By Kelsey Duchesne
I'd like to start this article by affirming that the November Vanity Fair cover story on our lady Adele fully delivers-- there are even juxtaposed quotes of her and Beyoncé complementing each other, unveiling the crown jewel of celebrity friendships. While the well-rounded, in depth story about Adele, a celebrity that notably stays out of the limelight and gives limited interviews, was appreciated, there was one particular question that was difficult to shake. Surprise, it was about her body and the male gaze!
After Adele shared a quippy story about shaving her hairy legs before going on stage at one of her shows, the interviewer asked her if her boyfriend of 5 years, Simon Konecki, minded her unshaven legs (wha?). “‘He has no choice,” she says. “I’ll have no man telling me to shave my fuckin’ legs. Shave yours.’” If this were basketball, this response would be the equivalent to a swish (basketball enthusiasts, y or n? Back an uncoordinated girl up, here.) . It was an excellent retort to a dated question, one so embedded into our culture that it almost feels acceptable (quick reminder that it is, in fact, not). Can you imagine asking Grammy award winning superstar Adele if her boyfriend minds her natural, unshaven legs? Can you imagine asking, well, anyone that?
While we assume it was a well-intentioned question, it continues an uncomfortable history of shaming women for their body hair. A survey reported in the Guardian stated that only 56% of women believe they should be removing pubic hair, as opposed to the 76% who remove it anyway. We’re still trudging through a society where women are conditioned to believe that they *need* to shave to fit societal beauty standards (and can purchase overpriced razors to do it!), or that questions about how other people feel about their body hair are appropriate. Seriously, do you really think Simon is going to tell Adele, mother of his child/life partner that her fuzzy legs need a glossy tune-up? Even if the question wasn’t meant to imply anything about the relationship between Adele and her partner, it plays with the preconceived notion that women's grooming should be conducted based on what your partner finds acceptable.
While I do genuinely hope Adele's fuq-no-I-do-as-I-please quote is empowering to women who have felt shame for their body hair, we shouldn't forget the way she was asked. Asking women questions about their bodies in relation to how their partners perceive them isn't something we need to know. Can we ask Adele how long she's gone without shaving, instead? We're looking for a new goal, over here.