#Sexual Health

Body Hair: You’re A Qween (Bushy or Bare)

Celebrating Body Hair, self-love after lockdown
Celebrating Body Hair: It’s normal to have body hair and embrace it.

I was barely 15 when I started growing hair on my body. ALL OVER. AND A LOTTT OF ITTT. None of my girlfriends were as hairy so it always felt different and obviously not in a good way.

I had no idea that those pokey little peeps would quadruple and tenthruple (of course I know that’s not a word), as I grew older.

Fast forward to when I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), I learnt that I had hirsutism. What does that mean? Excessive hair growth everywhere, including my face. I was not prepared for what was coming my way, and the  pain I’d have to go through (physically and mentally) for no fault of my own, but because of the high standards society has set for women.

People, including some of my closest friends, made fun of me, the people who loved me pitied my hairy face, referring to it as a ‘hair problem’.

The occasional comments, “Haye bechari”, “Accha nahi lagta”, “Madam but aapke baal bohut thick hain aur aap gorey bhi toh ho na”, “bhaalu jaisi growth hai na”, to so called friends at school saying things like “Teri toh ladkon jaisi daari hai”, made me feel that there was something really wrong with me. I still remember in high school, I only sat crossed armed, trying to hide my facial hair from classmates, but failing terribly at it.

Which now makes me think, why is excessive body hair in women referred to as ‘a problem?’ Why did everyone around me notice my so-called ‘imperfections’ more than I ever did? There was no concept of therapy back then. Even if it existed, we were too middle class to accept that a child needed help with bullying. And in my case, I didn’t even share how I felt or how I was being bullied with my family. I shut down completely, started wearing my brother’s clothes—ill-fitted, loose tees, hiding every part of my body I was ashamed of.

I succumbed to societal pressure and the insecurities fed by doctors (who were also maybe conditioned to see hairless women) and started going for hair removal treatments.

Which now makes me wonder what is the science behind all that hair removal was?

Electrolysis meant excruciating pain—when each needle not only poked into a strand of hair, but also every ounce of self-confidence I had left. My mood fluctuated like a politician’s statement. I would be happier closer to the days I had my treatment and then on the day of the treatment, it would be so painful that I would be shitting bricks, scared of the pain. Next two weeks I was happier as the hair was off.

The timeliness of the appearance and disappearance of fuzz also affected when I would go out and meet friends. A lot of my friends didn’t understand at that time why I would cancel plans or say no to meeting them sometimes. It was because of what I was thinking of myself in my head, how I looked and what people thought of me for looking the way I did.

Electrolysis meant excruciating pain—when each needle not only poked into a strand of hair, but also every ounce of self-confidence I had left. My mood fluctuated like a politician’s statement.

I wondered, “why would a guy ever want to be with me? I am big and I have hair on my face (and everywhere on my body). Is that even normal?”

Only a few years back I realised the damage my hair removal treatments, the hairless philosophy, etc. had done to my self-esteem and self-worth. (Grateful that I am growing smarter by the day and understand that my body hair doesn’t make me ugly, it’s there for a reason and if I want to grow it or remove it, it’s only MY choice.)

So many times, without even realising, we bring other women down. I’ve personally experienced this and I’ve also seen my girlfriends making fun of or getting grossed out by women who have hairy arms, women who choose not to opt for hair removal. I get where it all comes from—it’s what we all grew up seeing in magazines, in pop culture, it’s what our moms told us and what our grandmas told our moms. It’s a never-ending cycle. It never felt like a choice, but more like a mandate.

My own screwed up notions about my body (and body hair) came to the surface when I was dating my then boyfriend now husband and we were going to have sex for the first time. I was so conscious of how my body looked that I ‘prepped’ and got all my hair taken off, but couldn’t get an appointment for a bikini wax. It was so awkward for me as in my head I had already judged how HE would feel seeing MY body hair, and that too DOWN THERE! Which quickly escalated to ‘Would he not want to be with me once he got to know about my hirsutism?’

Funnily, he’s hairier than me on most days and on some I give him competition and we often joke about it.

Clearly, for me the idea of having sex was more to do with the fear of baring it all, the hair, the imperfections, the stretch marks, saggy skin, than it was to do with shame. Leave aside enjoying the experience, all I could think of and feel scared about was “What will he think about my hair—everywhere?”

But I am so glad that all my preconceived notions were wrong. It’s totes normal to have body hair and embrace it.

And here I am today making clean products that normalise sexual health, pleasure, body hair and more, with a simple message: You do you, girl! Because hey, all is not grim during the lockdown. We did see women’s relationship evolve with their body hair last year and a lot of them owned and groomed it with pride too.

Before I sign off, I’d like to leave you girls with a few thoughts:

–     Love yourself more.

–     People who bully you are not your friends.

–     Talk to someone if you’re bullied.

–     Talk to your loved ones about how you’re feeling.

–     Let’s be kinder to ourselves and to each other.

–     Let’s not take hurtful sh!$ from people, instead call out the BS.

–     Society will tell you a lot of lies, don’t believe them.

–     Do what you think is right, not what others tell you.

–     You’re a qween (bushy or bare)!

Sachee is an entrepreneur running a female focused sexual and menstrual wellness enterprise called That Sassy Thing. The views expressed are the author’s own.