This is part three, the trilogy if you wish, of my very personal piece on body hair (part 1, part 2). This time I want to explore the world of social media and the internet, which at first felt like the end of my patience, as I readied myself to read and research hateful comments and abuse. Firstly, I’d like to point out that my followers and the people I follow on Twitter are among the finest fruit. I have had the privilege of conversing with open minded, beautiful people and I’m nothing but proud to call them friends.
It started when I noticed that promoted imagery of women, which is considered popular beauty, are of unbelievably hairless, pore-less, mutated constructs of what human bodies should look like. We are told that Jennifer Lawrence is beautiful, because her skin is white, smooth and hairless, her hair blonde, her eyes blue, her teeth straight, her frame slender, but we aren’t told why that’s beautiful. Why are we looking at these images with desire, instead say Harnaam Kaur, who has facial and body hair, a rounder shape, brown eyes and brown skin? Why is Harnaam considered by many people as ‘disgusting’ or ‘gross’?
For example, scouring Daily Mail articles on Harnaam (the devil trimmed some of my remaining years for spending more than 5 minutes on an article), I found these comments:
The thing that struck me most was the amount of people that rejected her as beautiful, because traditionally we are told that women shouldn’t have beards. We shouldn’t have them, because a significant element of masculinity is being hairy. It’s a man’s job to be hairy. Women should be the opposite, so they’re not like a man, therefore man is heterosexual for liking hairless women. Good thinking, man. What if the hairless woman you loved stopped shaving her legs, would you then become homosexual for liking hairy legs? I mean, what’s the thought process here?
Men, quite frankly, don’t want the competition.
So, what better way to take women down a notch, than to make them hate the way they look? We know large advertising companies were/are controlled by men, so they told us we’re undesirable if we don’t spend money to look good for them. Is there anything more demeaning than that?
Before you all go running to my comments section, I’m very aware that hair removal has been around for as long as forever and been related to wealth and popularity. I’m talking about how popular culture has evolved to make women seem like hairless creatures and anything otherwise is ‘wrong’. Hair removal was forced on us: it was marketed to us, as a commodity. Now, it’s a part of every day existence. Shave, or we will not accept you.
When I type ‘indian body hair growth’ into google, the result is thousands of articles telling me how to get rid of ‘unwanted hair’. This language perpetuates our very opinionated comments on people like Harnaam.
Most language used when discussing women with body hair is always negative:
Language used for after hair removal:
I recently came across a twitter account @iranikanjari (written with her permission), who posts regular images of her beautiful body. She is also the subject of abuse because of this.
This belief that women should be ‘hairless’ and ‘clean’ is so ingrained into our minds that people are happy to spend time to write hateful comments to someone, who lives in a natural state. Some of the people who commented negatively, referred to themselves as feminists or social activists. This baffled me, as acceptance of a woman’s body doesn’t stop when it suits your deformed views. Not just a woman, but a woman of colour. A woman of colour who is embracing her body. You see where I’m getting at here? I’m not calling everyone a racist, your own mind came to that conclusion.
But we cannot ignore the strong correlation between hair growth and ethnicities, here. A lot of South Asian women have excessive hair on their bodies and face (as I’ve talked about previously) and it’s interesting how light skinned women, with blonde or little hair are praised as beautiful over darker skinned women with visible dark hair. Go to Veet’s website, and it’s white women shaving invisible hairs on their legs and underarms, smiling happily at their now removed sweat glands. ‘No hair! I look great! Before this, I looked awful, but NOW! LOOK AT ME NOW!’
Growing up and seeing this meant things like India’s promotion of ‘Fair and Lovely’ (a cream to lighten your skin) and my family’s insistence on calling my shaved legs ‘clean’, were a normal act. I grew up thinking being light skinned and hairless was beautiful. That I had to spend my hard earned money to make men and myself happy. That I couldn’t be happy until I removed every hair in sight. I had to thin the hair on my head, I had to over-pluck my eyebrows (massive regret), I had to try to cover up marks/ingrown hairs/scars with make up. I mean, it’s exhausting. No one has time for this, it needs to stop. I lost so much money on hair removal. I feel I would be one of the top 10 most successful bitches out there if I hadn’t spent all my earnings on long regretful waxing sessions.
I don’t want people to think I’m saying you shouldn’t wax, shave, etc, if they want to, of course do it. I’m saying don’t expect it from everyone. It’s a choice. Just like when you decide to shave your beard or keep it long. It’s my decision to shave my legs or keep them long and beautiful, so I can twine them into rope and climb out of your bad opinion.
I don’t expect everything to change. Some groups of people are more accepting, but I find I live in a bubble of wonderful people. Once I look outside of it, I’m disappointed with the masses of idiots, drooling while running towards me with a razor, ready to assault me with their adverse life choices.
I’d like more people to accept that beauty exceeds skin and hair. Beauty is an individual concern: we have our own favourite people to look at, to drool over, but are we doing this because we’re told to? Why can’t we drool over @iranikanjar’s sexy photos? Is it because we ‘know’ that hairy is not acceptable? I wonder how we learnt that. *looks at men*