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Hairy and Hers - Laura Cliss

She had grown her hair countless times

before, always ultimately caving and shaving

for work or wedding or any event where

pits might have been on display and she couldn’t face

the derisive looks of dismay when eyes caught

a glimpse of hair that screamed too loud

mutely declared refusal to conform to perfectly

acceptable gender norms

foreshadowed a farewell to society, headed for

heathen hippie living with no sense of propriety

waved in matted protest to the male gaze, curling

in caution of simmering feminist rage

unveiled as a fully-fledged exhibitionist display,

pheromone fuelled and set to scare men away

or perhaps it was just that she’d

let herself go

- somewhere

lost deep in that hideous forest of hair

because apparently

she no longer cared.

She found time and again that she just couldn’t stand

the shame and strain of trying to explain

the reason for hair that she didn’t choose

to put there at all, quite the opposite –

only chose

to leave it alone.

this time though, determined not to surrender

her pits pink and bare but brave her way

through the sniggers and stares when

people she neither knows nor cares for see

that one something about her they

can’t comprehend. because, truth is,

whatever they might guess, there’s some

truth to it, yes. though

the one mistake that they should

never make is that she just doesn’t care

because bloody hell

it takes a gut-load of grit to set foot

out there as a woman with

visible body-hair who with every flash

of skin makes a multitude of mute statements

to the world - a refusal to fit in

to the ticky-tacky box into which she

was squeezed until she could hardly

breathe, that she no longer wants or needs

that hallowed male gaze which she was trained to crave.

She’s hairy and she’s hers

and this time she’s not shaving herself short

which for many

is a terrifying thought.


Laura Cliss received her BA in English and History from Sheffield Hallam University before training as a primary teacher and spending a number of years teaching in the UK and Europe. She has recently moved back home to Cambridgeshire to start her MA in creative writing at Anglia Ruskin University in September. She writes poetry and short stories about anything and everything that inspires her – feminism, feelings, memories, imagination ... and sometimes cats.


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