Tillotama Shome body hair post has reignited a conversation that finds its way to our timeline like ocean’s waves. Should women wax or shave, especially when they are planning to wear tank tops, shorts or skirts? Should women feel ashamed if a fully grown crop of hair peeks out of their armpit when they raise their hand to hail a cab or ask a question? Does it make sense to forever be aware of what comes so naturally to our bodies and try and always hide it, because it is unladylike to do the opposite?
On January 19, Shome, who starred in the critically acclaimed Is Love Enough? – Sir a couple of years ago, shared an Instagram post in which she is seen wearing a tank top that has “unapologetic” written on it – a statement that was enough to put across the message that she was trying to send, as she stood with her arms raised, cradling her head, and her unshaved/ unwaxed armpits just out there casually.
Nonetheless, Shome did add a caption to her picture, which was largely a reminder to apologise less. “I do say Sorry a lot. Worst is when I apologise in anticipation of someone’s apology, as if it’s a Hello. I am sorry if I did something good because I could have done it better. The visceral ones of course, slip out of your mouth in silence.” Shome further wrote that the t-shirt is a reminder to apologise less and mean it more.
In a postscript of sorts, the actor added, “Oh and about body hair, yeah not sorry about it. I wear it as I like it. Its not a statement. I also wax. I also don’t.”
Suggested Reading: Are We Finally Coming To Terms With Embracing Body Hair?
Now isn’t that true for most women? We don’t have silky soft hairless armpits round the year, every day. Somedays we have a stubble of body hair, some months we just don’t have the bandwidth to indulge in self-care, as a result of which the stubble grows into a full-fledged “kheti”. Some days we shave or wax only the body parts that might be visible to the outside world, choosing to let the rest of our body hair have a free run. What remains constant is the consciousness about their presence or absence.
And the consciousness isn’t just limited to our own bodies. Don’t we all know aunts and friends who police other women and shame them for not having their eyebrows done? Or not waxing their hands regularly? The stigma that a hairy body somehow makes us less feminine, and thus less attractive, is so deeply ingrained that feel ugly and unruly if we do not remove the “unwanted” body hair.
Having said that, this doesn’t mean that women who wax or shave are doing a disservice to feminism. It is a personal choice to let your body hair grow or get rid of it. What needs to change is the amount of attention that is paid to this choice. Our body hair, something that comes naturally to us, should be one of the last things that we should have to fuss over simply to fit into our society’s stereotypes around beauty.
Views expressed are the author’s own.