In 2019, people will get outraged over literally anything. Case in point: the recent furor over an illustration of a naked woman’s body in Pearson Edexcel’s International GCSE Human Biology textbook, published in 2017.
The illustration’s primary purpose is to show the configuration of an unborn fetus inside the womb, but it also features breasts and a crotch. The latter is depicted with a Brazilian “landing strip” wax job — a slim, straight line of pubic hair leading down to the labia. Because, you know, pregnant women can do whatever the hell they want with their pubic hair, and the illustrator clearly understood that.
But, not to be deterred by human preferences and variation, a Twitter user called @glaciuswhite23 recently posted a snapshot of the illustration and wrote: “Disgusted by @Pearson_UK and @PearsonSchools for publishing this image of a pregnant woman with a Brazilian in a GCSE textbook. Utterly disgraceful. They should formally apologise. SHAME ON YOU”
Disgusted by @Pearson_UK and @PearsonSchools for publishing this image of a pregnant woman with a Brazilian in a GCSE textbook. Utterly disgraceful. They should formally apologise. SHAME ON YOU pic.twitter.com/Rty7PEWkda
— Glacius White (@glaciuswhite23) February 9, 2019
The call to anger was quickly taken up by Vivienne Porritt, co-founder and national leader of #WomenEd, a grassroots movement advocating for putting more women in leadership roles in education.
“For both teenage girls and boys, this illustration will make them think this is how all girls look. The danger is the girls will feel ashamed they look different at best, with the [worst] case scenario being they will try to emulate this,” she told Tes, an educators’ support website. Furthermore, Ms. Porritt claimed, “There is much evidence that girls are already victims of sexual harassment in schools and this image would add to that.”
The International GCSE Human Biology textbook is a study aide for the GCSEs, standardized tests applied to most students in the British Aisles at the age of 16. And, while we understand that 16-year-old teens can be quite impressionable about body image, we’re not entirely sure we see the inherent dangers in girls making decisions about their body hair. And we certainly aren’t finding the link between pubic hair choices and sexual harassment.
We want young women to feel just as empowered in their bodies as everybody else, but we’re a bit leery of anybody purporting to know what the correct pube configuration is, especially during pregnancy. We think it’s a matter of self-expression, preference, and comfort. But then again, what do we know?
But maybe Pearson has the answer. The textbook company told Tes that the image has already been replaced in International GCSE Human Biology’s May, 2018 reprint. We wonder if it shows a full bush, a full Brazilian, or a lightning-bolt shave job…