Body hair, don't care — on growing up hairy
Humans are mammals, which means that we have hair everywhere on our bodies except our palms and the soles of our feet. For some reason, however, unless this hair is thin and blonde, having hair anywhere other than your head, eyebrows, and lashes has been deemed unacceptable for women. We are bombarded with ads for creams, waxes, and razors to render us as smooth as a baby’s bottom. These ads make people think that women are supposed to be hairless. It makes women feel the need to achieve this goal and makes people judge those who don’t. Even women in dystopian movies, fighting for their lives against a murderous government have pits as hairless as if the Hunger Games were sponsored by Venus.
The gods of genetics decided to give me my mother’s milky white Northern European flesh and my father’s dark, thick, Latino hair. It’s the worst combination possible, or so I thought, since it makes every single hair stand out as if they were coated with tar. Like most things, my body hair was not something I paid any mind to, until my classmates decided it was a problem. In fourth grade, I began getting teased for my arm hair, then my little mustache, and my faint mono brow.
When Lorde’s mum found out she was being bullied for her monobrow, she told the boy off and then spent the day showing Lorde pictures of Frida Kahlo and teaching her how having excess hair is completely natural and nothing to be ashamed of. Cara Delevingne rocks her thick brows and began a beauty movement that changed North American ideals of beauty from over plucked ’90s glam to thick, full, natural, overgrown loveliness.
When I was bullied for my body hair, my mom just said that the boys were just jealous that I could grow more hair than them. But she encouraged me to decide if I wanted to ignore the boys and learn to love my hair or if I wanted to deal with the issue in another way.
As much I wanted to love my body the way it was, the truth was that I was embarrassed to raise my arm in class. I didn’t want anyone to see my armpit hair and tease me. I began shaving (quite poorly I might add) when I was 10 and getting facial waxes by the time I was 11.
Some kids in my class said I looked “Mexican,” and others asked if I was “actually East Indian” due to my baby hairs, arm hair, and facial hair. I hated that the kids brought in a racial aspect to their taunting because there is nothing shameful or wrong about being Mexican or East Indian, and it really sucked that my peers were insinuating that there was. Some races have more visible body hair than others, that doesn’t make any one race better or worse than each other. It’s just a trait that some people are born with, like me, and looking back on it now, I am quite cross with myself over the fact that I let other people make me feel bad about the way my body naturally was.
I spent the next 8 years constantly plucking, shaving, waxing, and Nairing every stray hair on my body. Around the age of 19, I just sort of stopped caring. I had been in a serious relationship for a few years and developed a painful skin condition on one of my legs that made shaving difficult. No one pointed and stared, no one even commented. I went from obsessing over every single hair on my body to not shaving at all for months at a time.
And I learned something this past year: If you don’t care about your insecurities, other people won’t either. If you’re having a great time, smiling and laughing with your mates, no one is going to point out your mustache or your weird hairline, or whatever else you stand in front of the mirror stressing about. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be hairless and shaving every day. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with not bothering at all. The beauty about our modern society is that we all have the choice to do what we want with our own bodies and live the lives we want to. And anyone who calls out your insecurities isn’t worth crying over.
At the end of the day, some people are naturally more hairy than others. It may be due to their ethnicity or just their genetics. Some people may choose to shave it and some may choose to embrace it, but either way, that choice is up to them and only them and that choice should be respected no matter what.
(Images via Disney, Lionsgate, Twitter, and .)