The Hairy Side of Body Acceptance
I recently browsed a comment thread devoted to complaining about me.
I noticed something a few comments had in common:
So she doesn’t want to diet or exercise, fine, whatever, but…do something about those eyebrows!
Hey now! I kind of love my eyebrows!
Another comment mocked the thinning hair on my head.
Apparently she’s also ingrown belly hair positive…EWWWWW
That’s a lot of focus on my body hair.
The belly hair comment comes from a picture I shared on my post Big Bare Beautiful Baby Belly which I made to help add to the available images of fat pregnant people. My belly hairs are just like that. There’s nothing I can do about it.
When someone mocks me and says I’m “ingrown belly hair positive” presumably they aren’t bothered that my belly hairs are like that. What they are bothered by is that I dare to show them in public. Of course, I choose to display myself online, but many people have bodies like mine. Those critical words are also out there in public, and they affect everyone who reads them.
My eyebrows I cannot hide as easily as my belly hairs. Am I expected to pluck and shape them to suit the needs of the body hating world? Well, yes, I am in fact expected to do so.
The hair on my head also cannot be so easily hidden. It grows out of my head that way. It grows the same way my mother’s hair does. I will not cower to criticism and be bothered that I look the way I look.
I stopped plucking my eyebrows 17 years ago.
I stopped shaving my underarms 13 years ago.
I stopped shaving my legs 13 years ago, but I still did it for special occasions. I only stopped for good about 3 years ago.
3 years is about how long ago I got over my mustache. I used to plucked it. I even bleached it once, but that just meant I was walking around with a blonde mustache.
I have still been plucking my chin hairs. I thought I only had two or three of them. A few months ago I stopped plucking them, and I discovered that it might be 2-3 at a time, but there are more in total. It’s quite scraggly down there. I had one more panicked plucking session, and now I think I’m done.
So I understand what’s expected of me by the people who write mean things about my body hair, because I’ve done most of these things before.
- I’m supposed to be medicated to help with my thinning head hair.
- I’m supposed to be medicated to help with my “excess” of other hair.
- I’m supposed to shave my legs.
- I’m supposed to shave my arm pits.
- I’m supposed to “trim” my pubic hairs.
- I’m supposed to pluck or shave or whatever my upper lip hairs.
- I’m supposed to call them “upper lip hairs” instead of calling them my mustache.
- I’m supposed to pluck my eyebrows.
- I’m supposed to pluck or shave my chin hairs.
- With my remaining head hair, I’m supposed to wash and condition it just so, then heat it this way or that, and style it with a bunch of products.
- With my remaining eyebrow hairs, I’m supposed to shape them.
- With my eyelashes I’m supposed to thicken them and curl them with various products.
- With my remaining pubic hairs, I’m supposed to shape them in one way or another.
That’s an awful lot of control. That’s an awful lot of time, money, and struggle on my part to fit into someone else’s mold.
Where will I be if I comply?
Who will I be?
Who will I be if I DON’T comply? If I continue to try as hard as I can to NOT comply as far as I can?
One of the things I will be is a woman. The deep control of hair is something our culture particularly forces onto women. But I will be a woman no matter what I do with my hair.
One of the things I will be is an animal. Guess what? We’re mammals! We have hair!
I recently heard a friend refer to her chin hairs as goat hairs. I’m going to take that up. It’s kind of cute, and it reminds me that I’m an animal. I will continue getting comfortable being the person – the animal – that I am. Chin hairs and all.
Issa is a wild and rebellious mama who wants to live a carefree life where that little anxious voice is put on mute. How about you? As a writer she feels successful if just one other person feels any comfort or inspiration from what she’s written.