I don’t know when the idea that women are born shiny, smooth, and hairless came to be, but it is time to eradicate that belief once and for all. Ever since the colonization of America and even before then in Western, Eurocentric areas, a beauty trope of women having completely naked arms, legs, and pits arose. Not surprising considering they were regarded as quiet, pious, and pure trophy wives for the longest time. Then razor companies came to the market, displaying videos of women running razors down their already hairless legs and the media was sold. It was official: women aren’t human and do not grow hair! Or, even worse, they shouldn’t have/grow hair. Like, come on, people. What do you think mammals are?
Ever since then, women have felt trapped in the obligation to shave and wax every part of their bodies until not a single hair pokes through. And while this is empowering and comforting for some ladies, for a lot of us it has felt like a cumbersome and tiring act that simply feeds into society’s exaggerated and inaccurate depiction of women. Most girls grow up seeing beautifully hairless women on TV and the minute we are of age to, we’re begging to go to our local stores and buy razors. In fact, most girls don’t realize that it is completely normal for a woman to have hair on her chest, face, and back because we’ve invested so deeply in the way media portrays us.
This trope fuels insecurity and low self-esteem in a myriad of girls, young and old alike. Especially for youth and for girls who grow hair that tends to be darker and coarser than the stereotypical Eurocentric hair. In the (typically) tween/teen years before razor/waxing age, girls do everything they can to cover up and hide the hair that is growing on their bodies, even going so far as to refrain from wearing tank tops and shorts.
I speak from personal experience. I distinctly remember in 6th grade when I first got a razor, I was so happy and excited and I shaved off all the hair from my legs, arms, and pits. At first touch, it felt weird and unnatural and I immensely regretted it. I wore long sleeves until all the hair on my arms came back. I think the young me realized at that time how weird it was that I believed “hairless” was synonymous with “pretty.”
When it comes down to it, the only ones who still believe that women come sparkly smooth, without a single little hair on their bodies, are (most) men. Down with the patriarchy! Ever since 9th grade, I have been proudly showing off my hairy arms and not even caring about shaving my legs anymore. Let’s be real: that is way too much work. Occasionally I’ll shave my legs to enjoy wearing silky pyjama pants and having that smooth calves feeling (if you know you know). But it’s 2019. It’s time for us ladies to bring out the hair. Just look at Amandla Stenberg casually showing her unshaven armpits on the red carpet at the premiere of The Hate U Give movie!
(However, if you enjoy shaving and being smooth and hairless, you do you girl! It’s about choice.) Our misogynistic society hates women for everything we do; hating us for having hair is just another one on the list. We can free our hair covered bodies and give the rest of the world a news flash: We’re women, we’re human, and we’re hairy.
Gorgeous art by Ayqa Khan, a Pakistani- American photographer and digital artist.