My Quiet White Privilege

Today I walked into a meeting where three women of color were discussing their eyebrows.  They were laughing and joking about having them threaded.  They all shared this experience of having their facial hairs threaded.   I smiled and we moved on.

But there it quiet white privilege.  These three women: powerful, smart, professional,  well groomed women.  These women I respect by default: the work they do, the things they say, the way they carry themselves are consistently impressive.  As they were bonding over their shared experience my questions is, "why don't I have this experience?" As such,  my response was that I don't have my "hairs" threaded because (and forgive the righteousness I am just being real) I don't believe that I need to alter my appearance for the world.

And there it privilege.

It is true that I don't do a lot to alter my physical form in order to be accepted.  But that is not because I am a better person or more liberated.  The truth of the matter is that I don't have to always look professional and perfectly well groomed because I am white.  As a default I am taken fairly seriously. My claim to employment, to expecting people to listen to me even if I choose to be "alternative" is because I am white.  I have the freedom to deviate from norms of mainstream beauty and acceptance because my whiteness is a norm.  It is easy to deviate from what is "normal" when you classify as "normal" in your basic status.

...And then their is that matter of hair.  First all, as a person of Northern European descent I happen to not be especially hairy.  Some plucking here and their keeps things at bay...and lets be real much of my hair- arm hair, soft facial hair etc is light in color and thus basically invisible except close up. . . but here is the privilege...the degree of hair that is socially acceptable is a reflection of the common realities of white people (of course their are hairy white people).  The standard of "acceptable hairiness in women" is again my default reality.   This standards the the basic reality of many women of European descent.

 Therein my privilege.

Two quiet ways that my world is handed to me on a white privilege platter.  (of course I have struggles, of course being a woman is not a privilege blah blah blah but).

1. The freedom to be perceived as professional while having a lot of fluidity in how I interpret that in my appearance.
2.  That standards for acceptable levels of hairy-ness are a reflection of my white ancestry.


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