With the end of the spooky season, arrives the month of November and during this month we see several men posting pictures of themselves, proudly embracing their untamed beards. This trend is known as No-Shave November that aims to raise awareness for cancer. It encourages people to let their body hair grow and donate the money that they usually spend on grooming themselves to aid those fighting for their lives. It seems like a wonderful concept until you come across the logos, where all you see is cartoons of men and their unkempt beards. This left me wondering- does No-Shave November pertain only to men?
I found the answer to my question on the official website. No, it does not.
The website quite clearly states that women too can participate by putting down their razors and cancelling their salon appointments but the logos are completely non-inclusive of the female population. That’s why you see fewer women as compared to men, posting pictures of untouched body hair.
This whole scenario stems from the deep-rooted correlation of femininity with smooth, silky, and hairless skin. Women are often told that “Beauty is pain.” A quote justifying that all the trials and tribulations that they go through to look more “feminine” and not the substance of their soul, is what makes them beautiful. Admittedly, a lot of influential women in recent years have inspired others by embracing their body hair, yet a stigma still exists in the back of people’s minds.
When we talk about body hair, we’re not just talking about hair growing on the arms and legs. We’re talking about hair in ALL regions of the body, including down there. Did merely mentioning it make you uncomfortable? Well, think of how uncomfortable it must be to get rid of it, only for the sake of unrealistic beauty standards. According to a survey done by the popular fashion and entertainment magazine Cosmopolitan, almost 46% of men prefer their partner to be COMPLETELY hairless as opposed to 12% of women. This staggering difference shows that even though the idea of “manscaping” has gained popularity over the years, men tend to have more expectations from their partners when it comes to body hair.
So why do these unrealistic expectations of women even exist? Body hair is an aspect of it, but women, slightly more often than men, are subjected to taunts and whatnot if they don’t fit the norm when it comes to their physical appearance. So who is at fault here? Is it the media, where women are depicted to be perfect and completely hairless? Is it the pornography industry that sets such unreasonable standards for women and also plays a major role in raising the expectations that men have regarding their partner’s body?
Or is it us? Is it the society that constantly fills the minds of young women with one irrefutable notion- that body hair is undesirable, unhygienic and hence has no reason to stay on the body?
I remember I was 11 years old when I first got my legs waxed. I wasn’t forced to get rid of my body hair, it was my own choice. Being a brown girl I was blessed with thick, coarse hair and I longed for the sleek and shiny legs that the women on television sported. The whole experience wasn’t traumatic or overly painful but progressively over the years, it began to annoy me. It was a monthly nuisance, and for what? I stopped waxing after a while because I’d had enough of it. However, I realized that I’d grown to associate comfort and confidence with hairlessness, just like I did when I was eleven. So once again, I reverted to getting rid of the hair on my body.
I do know a lot of women closely, who prefer to have body hair but still hesitate to flaunt it in public because they’ve been conditioned to believe that something so natural is completely out of the ordinary. I believe that a matter as personal as this, should not in any way be related to a woman’s appeal as an individual. Having body hair is a matter of choice and is not in any way anyone else’s choice to make.
So, the next time you visit a salon or use a razor, ask yourself if you genuinely want to. If you don’t, then proudly walk away and spend that money elsewhere- because the hair that grows on your skin has absolutely nothing to do with the beauty that lies within you.
Written by Medha Somayaji for MTTN
Edited by Mihika Antonia Dean for MTTN
Featured image by Julieta Gutnisky for Pinterest
Artwork by Ayqa Khan