I was glancing through my twitter account (@saskiatielens) when I saw one woman tweet that one should never use deet wipes on freshly shaved legs. She then tagged it with the tags #thingsyoulearninhaiti, #morphineplease, and #firefire. She’s in Haiti with a relief organisation. Better said, she’s a media blogger in Haiti to raise awareness by helping out there and then coming back and speaking/blogging/writing about it.
To me, it begged the question, why are you shaving your legs? You’re in Haiti. People are homeless and sick and dying. I doubt they shave their legs during “normal” weeks, so they’re definitely not doing it now! But I guess some things are hard to let go of, like Western beauty standards (especially when there are cameras present!). It also got me that she tagged it with #morphineplease, since I bet there are people there in actual need of morphine, because of, you know, crushed limbs and stuff, not a shaving accident. An earlier tweet was about how it’s hard for her to connect emotionally to what she thought was important just a couple of days ago, now that she’s seen the devastation in Haiti. Yet after everything she’s seen, shaved legs are still important.
This tweet just really took me the wrong way. It reeks of this attitude many people (un)consciously have (myself included! which is why I probably hate it so much) that we can sweep in and help while doing everything the Western way. I’m not saying this blogger won’t be changed by her experience, and I know she personally does do a lot for the various causes she writes for. But, to me, it still hints at a little bit of imperialism/colonialism/Western superiority* to me.
Or I could be overreacting. It’s just a tweet, after all.
*supply your own ism here