Since the beginning society has imposed that body hair is gross and unattractive on women, but it’s completely alright for men to have them. Body hair is a natural and functional phenomenon of the human body, but the patriarchal society somehow manages to influence everyone, to perceive the most natural and normal thing as a ‘deviation’.
A person has nothing to be embarrassed about hair on her legs, arms, armpits, private area or upper lip, or facial hair but if a person, especially a female, decides to embrace her body hair, she is made to feel embarrassed and gross through the judgmental gaze of everyone around her.
It is a challenging and emotionally taxing task to not let that judgment get into your head or not to think about it, and hence it becomes simpler to opt for the easier way, that is, adhere to the social norm!
Recently, Shyja, a woman with a moustache, became a sensation on the Internet for defying the unrealistic beauty standards that are set for women by embracing her stash.
Ditch the stigma around body hair: It’s okay for women to embrace their body hair
It’s an amusing fact to think that society has categorised and attached the meaning and significance of everything to particular genders that determine how ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ a person is. For instance, aggressiveness is a ‘manly’ emotion and crying is a ‘feminine’ emotion, and when both the genders don’t abide by this standard norm, it disturbs the equilibrium of patriarchy, and hence that behaviour would be seen as ‘deviant’ or ‘abnormal’.
Similarly, body hair is something which is seen more as masculine and not very appealing to the society; and that is why women are expected to get rid of their body and facial hair in order to have a more ‘feminine’ appeal whereas men are expected not to. And that is why, as mentioned earlier, when the situation is reversed, i.e., when men shave their body and facial hair and women choose not to, society is not able to process it.
Recently I wore pants that were a little longer than the ankle length somewhere and I realised quite later that when I sit, that the pant leg twitches up when I sit; and my legs were not shaved. So when I sat in the metro, I could see a few people having their ‘judgy’ eyes on my leg hair and to be frank, I didn’t quite care for it until that time. Later that day I was sitting in a café, in a position where an inch of my ankle was quite visible. A couple seated behind us subtly turned around and saw that and giggled; that is when embarrassment hit me. It made me extremely conscious that I immediately put my legs down and shaved my legs as soon as I reached home.
Though everyone preaches that ‘we should not judge’, ‘it’s their choice if they want to shave or not’, people judge all the time and it does psychologically affect your mind.
If I have to be completely transparent, even narrating this incident on a public platform with the knowledge that people who know me will read this article, is embarrassing for me. Embracing your body requires getting completely rid of the patriarchal conditioning that is challenging and time-consuming.
And to answer the question, why do women feel embarrassed for not shaving? It is because society has conditioned them to feel embarrassed; the same goes for the men who like to shave.
The entire purpose of this article is not to force everyone to not shave, but to highlight the fact that women should be able to do anything that makes them comfortable with their bodies and so do men.
Suggested Reading: Body Hair Is Gross, Or Is This Something Ads Want Women To Believe?
Views expressed by author are their own