by Maira Zamri
I’m a hairy girl. I have been one all my life. My legs are covered in thick and lush bushes like the rainforests of Malaysia, my eyebrow hairs grow on my eyelids and I shave my moustache before leaving the house. And though I’ve been a hairy girl for 20 years of my life, I still don’t seem to be acquainted with my hairy limbs. Why do I feel weird about it though? Is it down to personal preference or has society nailed a ‘hairless ideal’ into my head without me noticing it?
This hairless ideal that we live in has enforced sex and gender stereotypes—dictating who should have body hair and who should not. This proves to be problematic because body hair does not choose who it grows on. It just does and it does it regardless of one’s sex. It makes me feel as though my femininity cannot go hand-in-hand with my naturally occurring body hair. When my legs are left unshaved, pairing them with high heels and a skirt feels odd. My moustache and lipstick just don’t go quite well together in my opinion. But I have a feeling that it’s in fact not my opinion—it’s society’s. From hairless celebrities, to sexist razor advertisements, I feel as though I’ve been fed this smooth and poreless skin propaganda.
Shaving is seen as a trivial and mundane part of people’s daily routines. Body hair is also one of the most human things to have—but when shaving is left undone, the reactions that it elicits show you just how socially unacceptable it is to own your body hair (and this is written from personal experience). Women that don’t shave are seen as being unattractive and far from feminine. Some even consider it a deal breaker.
As you’re reading this, there are probably millions of people shaving, but reading between the lines have brought me to think about why we truly do it. This hairless norm is so widespread that people just don’t think much about it. We were not born with the urge to become hairless—it’s something we learned over time as humans. And though I acknowledge that our nature involves grooming and hygienic maintenance, surely something as harmless and natural as body hair shouldn’t be seen as a threat?
I overthink about a lot of things and today my brain just chose to think about my body hair. This vessel for my soul that I have known for all of my life, but still feel uncomfortable showing sometimes– especially when my pants hike up my legs when I’m sitting on the train. It’s hard for me to reach to conclusions and today is not an exception. Will I stop shaving my moustache? Probably not. I will, however, be more mindful of it and acknowledge that it’s a social norm that I choose to conform to. Is it bad to conform to societal norms? Are your opinions really yours? Oh no, here we go again…