Body Hair on Women

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

photo belongs to Ayqa Khan, click for source

It's that time of the year, fall/winter season when women and girls admit that they won't be shaving as often, if at all. But on an abnormally warm winter day (not so abnormal these days) how many of us will come out of the comfort of our homes and parade our hairy legs in short shorts for the world to see? Not many I would think.

Why does it feel like women not removing their arm, leg, underarm, upper lip, vulva, or wherever else hair, seem so revolutionary? It shouldn't. It shouldn't be a radical action. Normalize body hair on women. Stop the notion that body hair on women is unnatural or gross. Guess what? if it grows there, it grows there. & I shouldn't be pressured to remove it because it makes you uncomfortable. 

For me, this is about self love and acceptance. For the little girls who get made fun of for their full eyebrows, upper lip hair, or hairy arms and consequently live with insecurity (until they find that source of inspiration and detach themselves from society's unforgiving constructs). I am thankful that although I had my insecurities in both middle and high school, I was generally an innocent, carefree, and unbothered young girl. It might just be my bad memory finally doing me right, but I don't remember being as insecure as I am now at 22, or experiencing any hyperawareness of my body as many young girls do and did before. Perhaps I did experience bullying, or the like, about my looks or body, but it wasn't dramatic enough to leave a lasting impression. 

This may not be the place and time, but I am sorry to the people that I might have hurt or mistreated in middle and high school, especially in regards to the body and self esteem. Again, my memory doesn't spare me, but I constantly think of situations in which I may have taken part of. Maybe I wanted to be cool, but there are no excuses for my actions, complicity, or passiveness. I am sorry, hope you forgive me, and although time cannot be turned back, I hope you have healed. 

I always knew I had arm hair of course, I remember thinking in high school that my arm hair was something I would never remove. It wasn't until my sophomore year of college, working at a cellphone store, when my boss suggested I wax my arms (more than once) that I became unduly fixated on my arm hair. I felt discomfort when a customer would look at me typing on the computer, discomfort when someone would rub against or feel my arm, in fear that they found me repulsive. It's taken time to love my arms again. It's taken time to say fuck it, I'm going to butter up my legs, go out in shorts, and have my leg hair shine in all it's glory. Just yesterday, though I left home confidently, upon reaching my destination I felt uncomfortable knowing the older women present might catch a glimpse of my legs and judge me. What would they think of me? 

Frida Kahlo, & her iconic facial hair

This topic seems so mundane, and feels as if I am blowing it out of proportion. But it's not, this is a real problem that girls and women everywhere experience. We go through painful, time consuming treatments just to take it off. Sometimes it's for others, sometimes it's for us. Believe it or not, I love freshly shaven legs just as much as the next gal, but I should also be able to feel at peace weeks and months after shaving.

I saw a photo of Blac Chyna breastfeeding her newborn daughter on Instagram and one of the first comments I saw was "am I the only one that sees the hair on her breast." Are you serious? other than the fact that the hair was barely visible, nipple hair is normal, hair on your breasts is normal. The worst part for me was that the person commenting was a woman, let's band together not apart. Sometimes your biggest critics are those close to you, maybe your parents or friends. I remember a couple years ago I felt nervous telling my close friends I had purposely grown out my underarm hair. & I still get disapproving looks from my mom when she sees.

I have to say, Ayqa Khan, one of the three women from the video above, has been the source of the majority of my confidence on this issue. I am sure she still struggles with her body hair and doesn't have it all figured out yet, but she is amazing. It takes a lot of courage to put your unconventionally beautiful body out there. Follow her on Instagram here, a quick scroll through some of her illustrations here, and a Huffington Post interview here.

I think it's also safe to say that body hair isn't at all treated equally. In the last few years thick dark eyebrows became fashionable, I'm sure leg hair is seen as more acceptable then underarm hair, and hair on the back and chest is also more likely to cause distaste. I am also sure the amount and texture of the hair (loosely related to race), that appears naturally, can alter people's opinions. (ex. blonde fuzz vs thick dark hair). edit: I would also want to get on the topic of fat shaming and how the perception of body hair would differentiate on a fat girl vs a skinny girl. For example, because of the negativity associated with fatness, a fat girl with body hair would most likely be percieved even less maintained  and desirable  (probably gross) than a skinny girl with body hair. But, I don't have the will/time.
By Rupi Kaur, click to buy her book
It's not hair vs. hairless. It's about women doing what they want, and not having to worry about the disapproval, even condemnation, from their community, especially when it's something natural. Let us live. Normalize body hair on women. Allow little girls (and boys) to enjoy their childhood, don't let them be prematurely thrown into this cruel world. Teach self love & acceptance.

I don't tolerate my body hair, I love it. 
It's a process,

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