How to Love Your Body Hair
For all the ways the COVID-19 pandemic has tested us, one of the most unexpected trials has been fought between our personal comfort and our traditional beauty standards. Like the rise in sweatpants, sports bras and minimalist makeup looks, another contestant has entered the ring: body hair positivity.
With quarantine restrictions hitting estheticians and waxing salons particularly hard, many people had to put body hair removal into their own hands. But for others, with no people to see or places to go, the effort was futile. Shaving, plucking and waxing can be painful, and it takes time. Now that things are returning to “relative” normalcy, the pressure to have a hairless body is back with a vengeance.
For those of you still struggling to find body hair empowerment, we’ve listed some tips to help you along in your journey!
Follow Body Hair Advocates
More and more social media influencers are embracing an honest, unapologetic voice when it comes to the content they post. We’re seeing a huge shift in interest from pristine and polished, to real and unfiltered. As a result, there’s been a boom in creators using their platforms to show off their leg, chest, armpit, facial and pubic hair. What better way to empower yourself than by filling your social media feed with affirming, feel-good accounts?
Do the research and explore! Canadians and advocates all around the world are using their voices to speak up and fight the stigma. They often discuss their own histories—the ups and downs – with self-confidence. Some stories may resonate more than others. See whose content brings you joy and maybe you’ll find the courage to share your own journey someday too!
Read up on Self-Love and Practice Self-Acceptance
It’s easy enough to support the confidence of others, but much harder when it comes to doing the same for ourselves. Loving and accepting oneself fully can be a lifelong process; and North American beauty standards don’t exactly give us a head start. In fact, the expectations are well outlined (and enforced) by pop culture. By the time girls hit puberty, they are told to shave away the traces of womanhood growing across their bodies because, somewhere along the way, it was decided that body hair was unattractive. How are we supposed to feel beautiful when our brains have been wired to believe the opposite?
By doing the intensely difficult work of re-wiring it, of course.
Though the resource catalogue of body hair positivity is (almost) non-existent, the movement towards self-love is well underway. People are having open dialogues about the importance of personal fulfillment and are confronting themselves with the question: what makes me happy? Books like Body Talk and Being in Your Body inspire women to question beauty standards, while giving them exercises that promote self-love and exploration in happiness. Researching the history of ‘ideal beauty’ in North America can be eye-opening, especially when seeing the role that white supremacy plays in the definition. Once you start peeling back the layers of beauty, it frees up more space for your own interpretation.
Self-acceptance isn’t easy either; it will take a lot of time, a lot of research and a lot of reminding. It takes practice. Looking into therapy/counselling options is a great way to start and (pssst!) show self-love! Identify the things you love about yourself and the things you don’t. Question your negative thoughts. Find affirmations that resonate. Stop being so hard on yourself! Start facing your worst critic (YOU) about the ‘big’ things, and then the body hair you grow won’t seem so colossal.
Have Honest Conversations and Question the ‘Norm’
The scariest thing about deciding to grow out your body hair is how you’ll be perceived, especially by the people you love. It’s shocking how ingrained the stigma towards female body hair still is. You’ve probably heard it all; armpit hair makes you stink, hairy legs make you dirty, growing a mustache is manly, having a full bush isn’t appealing, blah, blah, blah.
You probably will be questioned because this is still a realm where other people feel entitled to an opinion. You can get upset or you can turn it into a conversation. Female body hair has a history of being used as a joke – a punchline – but when it’s treated seriously, it forces the other side to think critically about what they’re laughing at. Be honest with your answers and patient with the questions. Though you don’t have to justify your choices, it can be enlightening (and emboldening) for others to hear. Something as simple as “I choose to let my body hair grow because…” reaffirms the fact that it’s a personal matter, something you’re proud of and (really) nobody else’s business.
Some ignorant questions might follow. Don’t you get sweatier faster? Doesn’t it make your armpits smell? Isn’t your partner grossed out?
Answer with patience but ask your own questions as well. What is it about my body hair that makes you uncomfortable? How does having hair make me less appealing – less of a woman? Do you ever ask men these questions?
You’re forcing others to confront their own biases. Not only that, you’re holding up a mirror; those who comment on other people’s bodies are projecting their own insecurities and discomforts. It can be overwhelming for some, thought-provoking for others, or it might just go in one ear and out the other. You’re fighting a belief rooted in decades of stigmatization. Societal perceptions won’t change overnight but going against the grain might just get the ball rolling.
At the end of the day, it’s your body! Whether you prefer it waxed, plucked or unshaven, it’s your choice, and you shouldn’t have to fear how it will impact others. If it makes you happy – if it feels right for the skin that you live in – then that’s all that should matter.