My body positivity issues started at a very young age, which seems to be the case for most women.
Mine started with a hatred toward the “peach fuzz” that grew on my upper lip and the little tufts of hair that grew on my knuckles.
As I grew older, I not only began to discover more hair in more unflattering places, but more people also found it to be okay to point it out and tell me exactly what I could do to get rid of it.
The topic of body hair on women is often disregarded and left out of the whole body positivity movement. I’m here to explicitly say, I have hair on my toes, my tummy, my back, and many other places where hair isn’t “supposed” to be found. I am beautiful the way I am whether I choose to remove the hair or not. I want other women of color (and women who just plain have a lot of hair) to read this and understand this. We are beautiful the way we are whether we choose to remove the hair or not.
Ladies with the “peach fuzz,” this one’s for you.
This is for the time in middle school when other kids would tell us, “You need to shave.” We were beautiful young women then and we were on track to becoming the strong and capable people we are now. The amount of hair we had in unconventional places did not determine how beautiful we were on the inside or the outside.
This if for the times we wanted to dye our hair a lighter color but were too afraid to, because the dark hair on our faces would be more noticeable. This is for the times we were too afraid to use bright lipstick colors because it might bring unwanted attention to our upper lips.
Let’s dye our hair anyway. Let’s wear the brightest, most obnoxious lipstick colors we can find.
Remember those battles we fought in our dimly-lit bathrooms and stuffy bedrooms? Those long hours spent trying out every product imaginable for body hair removal? Do you remember the creams that left allergic reactions and blisters? The tweezers that made everything ache with each pluck? The wax strips that almost never worked? Those battles are over with and they have been won. We don’t need to waste the money, time, or pain to be beautiful. We can lay all those agonizing tools down and take a deep breath of relief. We are victorious with or without the hair.
This is for the time that it became trendy to grow out armpit hair and dye it different colors. All of our beautiful, patriarchy-stomping, blonde-haired and blue-eyed friends raised their arms to reveal little bits of hair dyed all the colors of the rainbow. You and I, however—we sat confused at all the times we’d been told to keep our armpits constantly shaved. We sat there with a little bit of bitterness toward the fact that we had to shave our armpits every single day.
It’s time to let go of that bitterness and follow whatever trends our hearts desire. We can raise our bushy blue/pink/green armpits, too. You and I will not only embrace the soft, light body hair on some women, we will also embrace dark, thick, and coarse hair on other women.
We were scared to be kissed. We were scared to be touched. We were scared to be looked at for too long. Any new partner we had brought on loads of insecurities. We plucked, shaved, and waxed all for them. Sometimes, in their opinion, it wasn’t good enough. In their opinion, we weren’t good enough. But who cares what they say? We are and always will be plenty enough for ourselves and for anyone who comes our way. We don’t need anyone to judge and validate our outer beauty.
This is for the time we were told it was gross to have so much leg hair, even though we had only shaved two days prior. This is for the times we were told that having all this hair was unhygienic. We were told we weren’t taking care of ourselves. You and I know that this isn’t the case at all. We loved ourselves, and our bodies.
It’s time to forgive ourselves for hating the body that we were given. It’s time to forgive those who wrongly judged the body we were given. It’s time to let go of the frustrations and anger we have toward the little jungles that live on us. It’s time to embrace who we are and embrace our beauty.
We are beautiful beings with intelligent minds. We have conquered so much in our lives and have defeated so many obstacles. The amount of hair we have on our bodies is not an indicator of how clean we are, how smart we are, or how strong we are.
Let’s embrace every little hair that grows on us. Even if we sometimes choose to remove it because we like it that way, let’s remember that even when we miss a day of shaving or plucking, the hair still makes no dent in our worthiness.
We are women with jungles on our bodies and empowerment in our souls.
We are beautiful.
We are strong.
We are enough.
We are hairy.
Author: Madison Amelia Heynen
Image: Guian Bolisay/Flickr
Editors: Emily Bartran; Katarina Tavčar