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Why do some people think it's okay to comment on a woman's body hair and tell her how she needs to present herself?
Why do some people think it’s okay to comment on a woman’s body hair and tell her how she needs to present herself?
“I am a guy so I don’t need to.” He said it with a tone laced with a hint of flaunting while the two girls sitting beside him nodded in agreement.
It was the summer of 2019 when the sun was still bright during the daytime. I had just taken admission at University for my bachelor’s course; I was a fresher and in high spirits.
It was another random day when I was sitting with some classmates in our classroom, discussing an upcoming event. Suddenly, a classmate sitting beside me ran his fingers over my arm and commented, “You don’t wax?”
I was a little taken aback and felt a little conscious of the tiny hair growing on my arms. I sank a little. Nevertheless, I gave a nonchalant response, “I do but not so often. I’m allergic to waxing” and went on with my work.
“You could shave!” he said with some sort of excitement – as if his suggestion saved me in some way. “So can you,” I said with zero tolerance and pointed towards his hairy arms. “Arey! But I’m a guy no. I don’t need to. You’re a girl. Doesn’t look good.”
I was speechless for a moment and so was everyone else present in the room. The discussion was long forgotten and now the eyes of everyone in the room were on my ‘hairy’ arms – the new subject.
What baffled me more than his hypocrisy was how he felt he had the right to comment on my body, the way I managed it and also shame me for it. I was suddenly feeling conscious of myself but I tried to hide it and went on, “So it’s fine if it’s on YOUR body but doesn’t look good when on mine? Why?”
“You’re a girl dumbo! The hair doesn’t look good on your hands that are supposed to look smooooootthhh” he said, dragging out the last word.
That was the last straw and I rushed out of the room.
This incident might look like a small conversation to someone else but for me, it did take me aback with how women are supposed to do so much and more to look ‘women’; how something that is natural – body hair – in all genders, is looked at differently when seen on women.
Adding to it, there is the fact that men do have the audacity to ask women to ‘shave’ and ‘wax’ – something they wouldn’t do simply because they’re men. How is society accepting of it when on men but when seen on women, it is unhygienic, gross, and unfeminine?
My classmate’s comments on my body hair just confirms how patriarchy affects the way something as natural as body hair is viewed differently when on men and women; leading to women facing constant shaming and policing of the body by not only men but also other women.
Society viewing the removal of body hair on women as a necessity and not a choice while men having the privilege to choose are just ideas ingrained in the minds of the society by patriarchy.
While wanting to shave is a completely normal thing a woman does and should be seen as just a choice, another woman not wanting to shave should also be only seen as another choice the woman has made for her body and she should not be shamed for it.
Let’s change the way we look at something very natural – body hair, yes – on women and not shame them for having it. Ladies, if you see your fellow ladies with strands growing on their arms or face or anywhere, whether tiny or long, instead of asking them to go to a salon, tell them what it is – beautiful.
Image credits Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
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