The Complicated Relationship with Body Hair

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Body hair: most of us have a complicated relationship with it. And there are sooooo many pieces of advice on the internet. Use coconut oil, wax, don’t wax, shave, don’t shave, use laser technology, don’t use it. It’s the conglomeration of very varied opinions that can leave anyone feeling overwhelmed.

The thing I’ve noticed about body hair is that the conversations revolving around it are extremely polarised. Refusal in removing your hair is practically a socio-political statement, but not removing it isn’t enough to warrant a reaction (because it’s expected of every female ever). What we don’t collectively acknowledge is that hair removal — unless you’re subscribing to semi-permanent/permanent solutions — is more of a chore than a statement.

I have some hair growing back on my legs and arms, but not because I’m trying to make a statement about liberation from the ideal image of women. It’s simply because I haven’t had the time to do so. I like to book my waxing appointments on days I have nothing else to do, so I can take my time to shower after and pamper my skin and myself with masks and candles. My friends like to shave on days they can relax in their baths with music playing in the background. It’s not weird to want to have a good time while spending some time to groom yourself, is there?

But there’s always an expectation from women to be as hairless as possible. If you’re going about running errands, then who cares, right? The moment it’s a social or professional meeting, though, it’s an underlying expectation. We’ve been conditioned to think that body hair is equivalent to un-groomed, which could be the same as lazy, unprepared, unbothered, or even unclean; take your pick.

All of us are familiar with shaving advertisements where female models demonstrate shavers on already shiny, smooth skin. Repeated exposure to such adverts creates a subconscious impression that you have to keep your body smooth, hairless, and as airbrushed as possible. Therefore, at the slight sight of body hair, you absolutely have to demolish it.

This creates an unhealthy and unwanted relationship between a woman and her body. Some women have less hair, some have more. And regardless of how often your hair grows or how often you remove it, most of us have become accustomed to being in a frantic rush to remove hair as soon as it grows out, or wear clothes that hide all the “hideous” spots. How then, do you create a loving relationship with yourself when you don’t allow yourself to accept yourself in all your states: hairy, non-hairy, with some weight gain, with some weight loss? Fluctuations and variances in our body is very, very common, but we don’t like to acknowledge that.

I mentioned that I like to book my waxing appointments on days I have time to pamper myself. That doesn’t mean I get to do so. Often times, my waxing appointments are squeezed between rushed days in preparation for gatherings and meetings so that I can look “put-together”, no matter that I might have already been feeling that way.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t remove your hair if you want to! We all know that any way to let yourself feel cooler is the best way to live in Singapore. No, here’s just a reminder that you can always remove yourself from the expectations of others. Because your physicality can affect your perception of yourself, don’t view natural bodily occurrences as something that’s unwanted or gross. Don’t let organic growths ruin your efforts in loving yourself; it can be hard already as it is. Of course, this is easier said than done — it’s something I’m learning to do myself — but slow and steady reminders to yourself will definitely and eventually start to work.