Body shape, body image, body confidence, beauty... These are all topics that are getting increasing attention of late with the message of recognising diversity, encouraging acceptance, abolishing discrimination and embracing individuality for all genders. Equality for everyone. I wrote a post about my experiences of body acceptance, as a slim person and my own experiences of discrimination despite my beliefs in equality for all. If you haven't yet read that you can find it here: My Two Pence on the Body Shape Debate But one topic I see far less discussion or publicity around is our standards or beauty and body hair, particularly for women. I would like to say here, that this is not to ignore the pressures placed on all genders but as a woman I will only speak for myself in presenting my experiences. From a young age I noticed that I was growing body hair much earlier than the girls around me. From around the age of 9 I saw my body was changing. I became very self conscious, and I shied away from school sports, swimming lessons and anything else that would have exposed my body to the stares of other children. As I've grown my hair has become coarser, thicker and visibly covering more of my body than I would say is typical. It's taken me a very long time to come to terms with my body, and I've spent much of my time covering up and avoiding activities where I might have to expose myself in public. As I also have a skin condition, and allergies to a number of hygiene and beauty products, having increased body hair has only exacerbated my problems with serious reactions to body hair removal and related products. I've learnt to always wear thick tights or trousers, long sleeves, if I wore a bathing suit I wore a long shirt and shorts when I could, and eventually stopped taking part in any activities that needed more than my fore arms on display. But saying all that, in the past few years I've been far more accepting of my body hair, primarily because my skin condition forced me to, but I've learnt to reconcile with my own hang ups and that letting it grow out sometimes, isn't actually all that big of a deal. I now openly admit to having body hair, and feel no shame in that, something I would have a few years ago. Recently I was discussing bodily hygiene with a male friend of mine. I recommended he try using a body polisher with his shower gel because from my experience it gave me much better results with getting clean, and getting rid of any bodily odours that you don't want hanging around. But his response was: "I can't I have body hair" So when I told him that so did I, he was elated and said "hey look at you, my feminist friend!" Now don't get my wrong I am an equalist, a feminist, and many other terms that represent my strong belief in promoting equality for all, but my reason for having body hair wasn't because I'm a feminist. I have body hair because I'm a woman, and I'm human. When we are making steps for more diverse beauty standards particularly for women in the public eye, it annoys me that we aren't more encourage of greater acceptance of body hair for women and people of all genders. I'm not saying that we should be telling everyone to stop shaving or to wear there body hair for all to see but I want body hair, whatever your gender to be an equal choice that does not deem anyone less by some beauty standard that has been imposed upon them. I feel this is particularly important for women, when body hair or lack there of, is such a sexualised part of the female body image. When was the last time your saw a main stream model with ANY body hair?
During my adult years I've explored a number of options for body hair removal. I've waxed (which my body is 100% against), I've shaved, I've tweezed, I've even had Instant pulse laser treatment. I've also received a wide range of opinions for all of those choices, but a particularly negative response for using IPL. I had two goals pursuing IPL (and this is something I'm not ashamed to say I still do). Those were - reducing the challenges I experience having a skin condition and reducing my body hair to a more typical degree. I have never intended to permanently remove ALL my body hair, which tends to be the assumption of most people. I knew straight away I didn't want it all gone forever, because in some strange way my body hair actually makes me feel like a natural, healthy, proud female. My body hair empowers me! But I just wanted it to be more manageable so if I want to go out with my friends, or walk on a beach on my holiday, I could choose to shave without having to prepare three hours in advance and suffer with skin problems for 10 days following. I know that some people might say that by wanting to reduce my body hair I go against my own standards and that's OK. You're perfectly allowed to think so. But what I do, I chose to do, because this is my body and I want to feel that I can do what I want with it without the judgement of others. Another friend of mine recently told me she's been growing out her body hair, but she's hit a wall because she has some stunning high end designer dresses that she just couldn't wear with body hair, and that got me thinking even more on the subject. I don't think we should be now saying women should all grow out there hair and never remove it if they chose to. It's not about one size fits all. Why can't body hair be a style choice? Just as we might cut the hair on our heads, or dye it, or wear it up, or have a fringe...why can't body hair be an accepted standard, that we, the individual can decided unjudged what to do with? I totally agree with her. There are some style of clothes that I wouldn't choose to have body hair with, but there are others I really wouldn't mind. In fact if I don't make too many readers feel uncomfortable, there are plenty I actually think body hair would add to. Why must is define our beauty or sexuality? The real message is... I wish there was more discussion on the topic of body hair and the use of body hair in the industry to give women the same standards as men and encourage body acceptance. I'm not saying you can't style it when you have it, but we shouldn't be shamed into feeling unattractive, or disgusting because we didn't shave what was only given to us by nature. As I'm growing further into my adult years I've become so much more accepting of my body for what it is, and I'm becoming ever more comfortable with who I am and how I look. I will continue to where long sleeves when I want to, and I'll continue to thin out my hair as I chose, but all the time I feel myself peeling back the layers, and hiding less of myself. My body hair doesn't make me less of a woman, is proves I'm human. Do you have any thoughts of feelings on female body hair, body image or gender standards? I would love to here from you in the comments and start a discussion. If you like this post please feel free to share it on your social media as well, and let me know with my handle @theasthinkings.
Thea is an Academic, a Crafter and a Musician from the West coast of Wales. She documents her trials and tribualtions as she wanders the maze of challenges that life presents, all while travelling the world and pursuing her dreams.