• kimbansi

Hairy Mary quite contrary

As Summer approaches and girls swap valuable relaxation time for eyebrow appointments, waxing sessions and contorting bodies into inhuman positions to ensure that every shred of hair is unceremoniously ripped from our bodies, it does make you wonder, what is it all for?

Recently, I found myself caught in a paradox. As the sun comes out I want to wear lovely floaty, sleeveless dresses with smooth underarms to match. As many of you ladies (and some men) will know, you have to grow your hair a bit to get the best results from your wax. This is what I've been doing, and one day unbeknown to me, I wore a top where you could slightly see my underarms. Then, someone unhelpfully quipped 'you can see your hair under your arms' complete with a face of disgust. I quickly responded 'yeah I don't care.' But I did. I felt ashamed that people had seen something that I would usually pretend didn't even exist. It's like wearing an embarrassing item of clothing that's kinda ugly and bumping into someone you haven't seen since school, and they judge you for your aesthetic.

It really bugged me though. Usually I don't give 2 shits if someone has something to say about the way I look and it literally made no sense to be shamed for something that is literally so natural. It's a particularly bad problem for Asian girls too, who have a hair growth rate close to that of an alpaca. In year 9 I would look on jealously as my white friends were dancing around gleefully with their barely noticeable blonde arm hair in the summer, whilst I was bleaching, tweezing and slicing off every hair follicle before I would even step out the house. Asian girls are really critical of each others body hair too. From as young as 11 I was told I had too much facial hair, as if it was something I was purposely doing wrong. By the time I got over the fact that people had called me out on my moustache, it was too late the damage had been done. When I did eventually get laser done it felt great, but the money spent was enough to take me on a dream holiday halfway across the world. It's just such a shame that I felt, and still feel, that this is something that needed to be done, almost a medical procedure.

As I've grown up I've become a bit more relaxed about it all- I jumped for joy when the strong, thick brow came into fashion as it meant I could spend my time enriching my life instead of being shouted at by the threading lady about how bad I'd let my eyebrows grow whilst her head was bobbing up and down like some sort of possessed cuckoo clock. I may have become more relaxed, but I've also become more angry about it all. For years and years women have had these quite frankly unnatural body hair standards thrust upon them, so much so that literally letting your body be is shameful. I mean, adverts for razors don't even show hair on the models legs?! It's also laughable that once again, men do not have to worry about such issues. For them, a trip down to the swimming pool is a 1 second thought. Whereas, for a woman, it normally takes days of preparation (will I be on my period? Do I need to shave? Is my swimming costume still going to fit?)

Now, there are so many women taking back control of their own bodies, like Harnaam Kaur. Harnaam was diagnosed with poly-cystic ovaries and couldn't control her facial hair growth, yet after years of bullying she finally decided to embrace it. Read more about her story.  Recently, an image of a woman's stomach went viral because, God forbid, she had hair on it! Initially she was trolled by those who couldn't fathom the idea of a woman with hair, but soon she started to receive a lot of love from people who were proud of her for sharing something so many people could relate to.

Whilst I really admire these women's ability to embrace their body hair, I know I'm probably never going to reach this level of confidence, purely because I HAVE successfully been shamed into continuing this awful cycle. But if you walk away with one thing from this blog post it should be this: don't be part of the problem. Don't make people feel bad for something that you have no control over. Don't make young girls believe they are imperfect if they don't chose to pour hot wax onto their skin. Don't be an arsehole if someone chooses not to care, just because you do.

Brown girl Kim
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