A Walking, Talking Goddess

I love movies. I may have mentioned it before. And to most of us who love movies, the name Sophia Loren is one that carries weight. Even if you don’t know any of her films or anything about her, you certainly know the name. It’s up there with Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Gene Kelly as a name that conveys an expectation of greatness, because that’s what Sophia Loren is, she’s one of the greats. And she’s one of the few remaining legends of the classic Hollywood era still gracing our earthly plane.

Let’s be honest, Sophia Loren was, and still is, a goddess. And I’m not just talking about her looks here, though I’m not poo pooing them either, as she’s always been elegant to the point of envy for many people. But she’s also a goddess of life. Loren has won so many awards she’s probably had to buy them their own apartment. She arguably launched the celebrity perfume/cosmetics trend in 1980 with her perfume, Sophia.  She wrote an autobiography, raised children, and held down a highly successful movie career that took her all over the world. Did I mention her charity work?

But wait a minute, I’m sorry, my mistake. I forgot that none of that matters and she is evil incarnate. Why, I hear you cry? Did she murder someone? Nope. Did she go all Mommie Dearest on her kids? Never. I bet you’re thinking that she ran over a pile of puppies while laughing maniacally à la Cruella De Vil… not a chance.

Hold onto your hats, folks, cause this is tragic… the horrific offense committed by Ms. Loren is (*deep breath*) that she dared to not shave her armpits. Result: Sophia Loren is CANCELLED! Because a hairy armpit on a woman is just disgusting, right? Uh, wrong! Though not according to a group of gender biased, (and presumably follically challenged if they’re so horrified by naturally occurring body hair), people in a classic movie Facebook group I belong to. I repeat. A classic movie group. You know, the kind of group that you’d think would appreciate the talented Ms. Loren. But alas, it seems their appreciation is predicated solely on her falling into line with their expectations which, apparently, do not include bodily autonomy.

Here, let me give you some context. Cause I can already see that you don’t believe me. I mean, it is Sophia Loren, we’re talking about and I don’t blame you for assuming anyone in their right mind would automatically consider her perfection itself.

Someone posted this article to the group where it immediately – but immediately – provoked a tirade of abuse against this intelligent, beautiful, talented, and fierce woman, reducing her to the sum of one of her body parts, her armpits.

By the comments of “ewwww,” “disgusting,” “yuk,” and worse (so, so much worse), you’d swear Ms. Loren had spent her days stalking the hairiest men she could find and digging around in their shower drains to find some soggy, matted locks she could glue onto her shamefully bald flesh.

Newsflash: Women are hairy! Get over it! And while you’re busy getting over that hump, keep on going because right next to it is another, much fluffier hump full of women who choose to remain au naturel. I know, right!?  How dare we!?

One gentleman jerk even commented on the post saying if she was with him, he’d make her shave it.  Make her.  Make. Her. You know, because this pillar of society clearly has a line of Sophia Loren like women outside his house, desperately hoping they’re deemed smooth enough to be worthy of the god like body he probably assumes he has. Not that I know this guy, but how much are we all betting you could braid his back? But he and hundreds, (and I mean hundreds), of other commenters had the gall to say that Sophia Loren needs to shave in order to be sexy.

And really, that’s just one issue that women in society have faced for countless centuries. We are judged by our appearance and whether we are deemed “doable” enough to be acceptable members of the human race. But why does body hair on women cause such visceral outrage? People are genuinely horrified at the sight of a hairy-legged woman. They recoil on the subway if a woman raises her arm to reveal a fluffy pit, like they’re dirty for having naturally occurring hair. Yet a man who was graced with a ripe coat of sprouting follicles all over his body doesn’t have to bat an eyelid of shame.

How many times have we been in a pool, alarmed that a bear has entered the shallow end, but upon closer inspection realize it is, in fact, just a human male? But no one says anything to him, he’s allowed to just be him. But hey, if he’s happy, leave him to it, he just shouldn’t then turn around and comment that Sophia Loren is disgusting. We are all far too obsessed with telling other people how they should keep their bodies. And body hair on women is no exception.

Here in the U.S., society has molded us to view body hair on women as disgusting and offensive, to the point we feel it is more than acceptable to shame women, including Sophia Loren, for having it. There’s a running stereotype that European women embrace their body hair more freely (which I hope is true), and Sophia Loren is Italian, but I’d even go so far as to say that over the years body hair is slowly becoming more embraced by women everywhere. The rate of acceptance, however, is a lot slower.

In 1999 Julia Roberts was torn to shreds by the press for attending the premiere of Notting Hill with unshaven armpits. So, instead of the press reporting on a talented actress who was at the top of her Hollywood game at that time, she was reduced to endless debates about women and shaving. Today, it’s less likely she’d suffer such a tirade over a bit of hair but, obviously, as proven by the classic movie Facebook group, not impossible.

Through years of patriarchy, we tend to view the world through the male gaze. Habits are changing, but it’s slow, and nowhere is that more evident than reading the comments on a Sophia Loren post where not just men, but women were vilifying her for having some body hair.

When I look at someone like Sophia Loren, the last thing I’m thinking is “hey, if she only had smooth armpits, she’d be a better actress/writer/mother/human” or that having fuzzy ones make her less beautiful, sexy, and vibrant (as if!).  Whether she chooses to shave or not is none of my damn business, and no one else’s either, and it certainly doesn’t impact her goddess status.