Did you just think that the image shown above is weird? Are you wondering why I’m even writing about body hair when it’s a topic that should be kept hush-hush, only to be discussed behind tightly drawn curtains? Yes, believe me, I’m thinking the same things!
But I have a question: why exactly can we not address this issue openly?
Why Must We Hide Something So Natural?
Hair growth on legs, arms etc. is a very natural and perfectly healthy occurrence. And everyone knows this. So why do we feel the urge to either get rid of it as soon as even a tiny strand starts showing or to hide it under long, thick-sleeved clothes? Are we trying to reach or live up to a mythical standard of “beauty”? As we grow up, our body changes and we are told to change our very personality in order to catch up with our body.
Apparently, in order to be beautiful, one HAS to have a smooth, hairless body (not to mention thin and fair, but that’s a whole other issue). This is what we’re taught to do. Years and years of lessons ingrained in our minds have led us to believe that this is a necessity rather than a personal preference.
Portrayal in Media
Now here, I’m talking about a specific demographic, i.e. people who identify as women/ people who are considered to be “traditionally female.”
Advertisements that promote products such as hair remover, trimmer, waxing strips etc. target this very demographic. It may not seem like a huge deal, but it unknowingly leads us to believe that the women shown in the ad are the ideal that we all have to look up to and achieve. This, in turn, promotes a very unhealthy and unrealistic body image.
According to these companies, you only look presentable or “pretty” when you use their products. This is how most, if not all, of these adverts go:
Friends have planned to go out. One friend is sad and says they can’t go. Why? Because they don’t have time to get their body hair waxed and cannot dress up. So, they choose to stay at home. Enter the savior! It’s an at home, easy, quick, hair removal kit! Wow, what an amazing product! Now the sad friend can look beautiful too! She can go to the party! AND she can have fun! Yes, that’s how easy it is!! Order your own kit today!
Why Are These Products Harmful?
In addition to being unreasonably expensive (like all other female sanitary products), these kits and methods can cause quite a few problems.
First, waxing. This is probably the most commonly used body hair removal method. It’s also the most painful. I mean, this stuff really hurts. On top of that it can cause rashes and skin irritation. And, if you do this once, you pretty much have to do it on a regular basis if you want your body hair to remain civil. It is not a cheap procedure and has to be done more or less on a monthly basis, so imagine your yearly expense.
Second, at home wax strips and razors etc. Again, first issue, not a cheap product. Second, these are not suitable for all skin types because they use a lot of chemicals. They can also disrupt your hair growth by causing ingrown hair. After I shaved my legs for the first time, I had to deal with rashes and ingrown hair for about a month. This is not something that can be easily ignored.
Third, epilators. This is a fairly new product and is not used on a large scale, yet. I came to know about epilators only last year. These too are quite costly and can cause ingrown hair and skin irritation.
Despite the fact that these body hair removal products do have a lot of pros, we cannot ignore or overlook the cons. So, when investing in these products, it is necessary to make an informed decision.
My Personal Experience
I have been told, on multiple occasions, by my family members and even random acquaintances that I should get my arms and legs waxed, now that I’m a “young woman.” Guess what? I brought a hair removal kit too. I’ve only used it twice though and only on my legs. Honestly, I kinda love the hair on my arms and have never attempted to get rid of them. But that does not mean that I will be left alone and not have to receive unwanted advice from people. I don’t let their jibes get to me anymore, I’ve become thick-skinned (it complements my thick-haired arms haha).
Here’s What I Want To Say
I am not against a person’s choice to look how they want, and if getting rid of their body hair is how they achieve it, I’m completely in support. But it has to remain a choice, not something that is forced or necessary. The way that it is promoted right now is wrong and has to change if we really want to progress.
Myth: body hair is disgusting and unhygienic.
Fact: it most definitely is not unhygienic and it’s beautiful.
P.S. A big shout out to my friend, Nirvana, for making the artwork shown in the image above! You can check out more of their creations on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/anarchist_honeybun/)!!