Why does body hair on women become such a big deal. We are taught that a beautiful woman is someone who undergoes a Princess Diaries type transformation- A big part of which was neatly done eyebrows and full body wax.
And if a woman chooses to not wax, they’re shamed.
While women are shamed for having body hair, men who can’t grow a beard are often called names that questions their manliness. Why is this idea of body hair being unhygienic only there for women? Why does femininity get associated with hairlessness?
Before hair removal was used for aesthetic purposes, shaving one’s hair off during the stone age was a survival tactic. It’s believed that shaving during the Stone Age was a safety measure during battle, as having a hair-free head and face protected them from their opponent grabbing onto them. In harsh weather, shaving was also used to avoid frostbite from water becoming trapped and frozen against the skin.
Thousands of years later, hair removal was modernized in Ancient Egypt where the foundation for waxing techniques used today were laid. Pubic hair was considered low class, which explains why Ancient Greek statues of women were completely hairless.
Hundreds of years ago, beauty standards for women were soon being shaped by the media, through images in magazines and in the movies. In the media, body hair was being associated with ugly hair, an embarrassment. It was shown that the girl who had body hair would be unloved. Fast forward to today: hair removal ads in India don’t even want to show hair in the ads.
What’s in fashion is directly influencing how women groom their body hair. And for many of us it started very young in school. I waxed for the first time in 6th grade, when I had one or half hair strand on my legs but everyone else was doing and so I wanted to do it too.
While women are shamed for having body hair, men who can’t grow a beard are often called names that questions their manliness.
That painful experience was exciting for me because I didn’t want to be left out. Girls who had thick black hair, if they don’t shave/ wax then they are shamed, they are ridiculed by their classmates-” Muche katwa le please”.
And when you’re in your teens, comments like these affect body image and identity. So it’s not really girls’ fault when they try to conform to the beauty standards. If we want to shave/ wax then that’s fine because that’s a choice we are making. But who are we to make a person feel bad for their choices? In conclusion I’d just say that being completely hairless is not a hygiene practice, it is not a requirement, it is a choice.
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