Body Hair Is Womanly

Body Hair Is Womanly

Body hair, don't care? For most women it's never that easy. Raised in an environment that encourages shaving, 8 women share their struggles growing up with and accepting their body hair.


"As an Indian woman there is so much pressure to have no hair."


"It was not until I was in my late teens that I noticed that I was hairy. I kept wondering if something was wrong with me. I had a unibrow, lots of hair on my legs and arms, the whole works. So at 16, I was introduced to shaving. I took my dad’s disposable shaver and took it to my legs. I ended up giving myself such a bad job that I was bleeding from so many spots. 

As an Indian woman there is so much pressure to have no hair. I kept hearing from men (and even some women) that they considered being hairy as being overly sexual, unhygienic and unkempt. So I shaved, waxed, plucked, trimmed; I just didn’t want people to think that I could be okay with my body hair.

My journey with accepting my body hair started off with my legs, and then I let my arms be, then my armpits, but the one thing I struggled with the most with is my chin and moustache hair. I felt I was mostly looked at weirdly by women, and sometimes if they were staring at my chin I would feel very self-conscious. 

I still do sometimes resort to hair removal but it’s only if I want to fit a certain aesthetic. These days I don't really care about being stared at. I would wear skirts, shorts and even dresses and I have turned up with my chin hair. I’ve learnt that at the end of the day- you call the shots for yourself and your body, so do whatever you please because no one has the right to tell you how to live."

(Ratnadevi, 39)



Pictured: Ratnadevi, 39.


"Growing up, I’ve always gotten comments about how hairy my legs were, how I had a visible moustache or how my arms look more 'manly' than those of a man’s. Back when I was a teenager, I used to attend cosplay events a lot and you’d have pictures taken by event attendees. One distinctive memory I have is how a photographer, upon taking my pictures, told me that I should get rid of the hair on my arm, and even suggested ways to do so as though he was giving me advice. 

I was so embarrassed back then but looking back, it was ridiculous that a grown adult man, who was a literal stranger, thought that it was appropriate to comment on that. It is ridiculous that body hair is frowned upon when it comes to women’s bodies but when it comes to men, no one would bat an eye. It isn’t ‘unhygienic’ or ‘unattractive’, it is natural."

(Natasha, 20)


"The thought of going to school with body hair made me feel almost nauseous."


"Around the onset of puberty, I started to feel extremely self-conscious about my body hair. Especially since we'd wear shorts in school for PE lessons, I'd constantly look down at my leg hair and feel so embarrassed. All the other girls in my class had really smooth, hairless legs and I didn't want to look 'uncivilised' next to them, so I picked up my first razor at 11. 

Even though my mum had discouraged me from hair removal at such a young age, the thought of going to school with body hair made me feel almost nauseous. As of now, I've started to care less about body hair generally, but I still get a wave of anxiety when I walk in public and my legs haven't been waxed or shaved. I'm planning on investing in a wax heater soon, so that I won't have to worry about feeling insecure in my favourite clothes anymore. But I know it'll only temporarily ease the anxiety, honestly."

(Shekinah, 20)


"Growing up I was constantly made fun of for having hairy arms and legs. It wasn’t just verbal, sometimes the bullying included pinching the hair on my arms. The majority of my schoolmates during high school had hairless smooth skin which made me envious. 

At some point, when I was around 14 years old, I asked my mum if I could wax my legs. I’ve been waxing my legs ever since. Thankfully I never worked up the courage to wax my arms and ‘lady-stache’ so they’d call it. 

Nobody tells you that once you start waxing, it’s a lifelong commitment to maintain. As I grew older, I’ve started to become unbothered by the state of my legs. However, I am still quite insecure about my arms when I take pictures and wear dresses because the hair on it makes them appear darker and less ‘feminine’. Baby steps. Slowly I will learn to embrace my arms and legs."

(Aishah, 22)



Pictured: Aishah, 22.


"I was bullied throughout my schooling years for having lots of hair. People would tease me and point it out every time a bit of my body hair was exposed.

‘EEE why do you have so much hair? You’re so disgusting, are you even a woman?’ 

‘Can you please wax your armpits, it’s annoying me.’ 

‘You look like a gorilla.’ 

As a result, for years I became insecure about the hairs on my body. 

Us women are shamed for our body hair, and for what? Women are expected to be as hairless as possible because being ‘hairy’ somehow means we’re being ‘unhygienic’, ‘disgusting’ and ‘unnatural’- according to society. The beauty standards leave us feeling sickened with our own bodies.

There is too much extensive shame on women and body hair, and this sort of shame cuts deep. It takes us back to every moment we were judged, criticized and humiliated for all the hair we have on our bodies. It’s like society doesn’t want us to be human but rather have ourselves unnaturally altered to fit the norm. We need to change this culture of body-hair-shaming. We are only human and there is nothing wrong with body hair."

(Nadia, 18)


"It's funny because my friends at the time were worrying about drawing on the perfect eyebrows, while I was busy plucking mine."


"Being born a Malay girl, I was blessed with a pair of beautifully brown eyes, caramel-toned skin, and of course, thick, dark hair. And there would rarely come a day where people would let me forget about it.

People would giggle as they run their fingers through the hairs on my forearms, or my legs, and even my unibrow. And so, at the ripe age of 10, I started stealing my mother’s razors to shave every possible bit of hair on my body. Then I started plucking, waxing, and epilating, to the point where I had spent hundreds of my money to fit the beauty standard that is ‘hairless’. It's funny because my friends at the time were worrying about drawing on the perfect eyebrows, while I was busy plucking mine.

Everyday, I'm still trying to find ways to love what I have instead of awkwardly laughing it off whenever someone points it out. Which is why I think it’s about time that we start embracing our hair instead of shaving it off, because after all, isn't it just hair?"

(Arrissa, 16)



Pictured: Thivya, 23.


"Growing up as a 'hairy girl', in primary school the boys said that my arms were 'furry' because of how much body hair I had compared to them. I felt humiliated and ashamed—like it made me less of a girl. The teasing and comments continued during high school as well, and I started shaving and waxing my arms and legs when I was around 14, because I was afraid that boys wouldn’t like me because I was hairier or appeared 'more masculine' than them.

Now, I admit that I do get self-conscious about my body hair, and I do hair removal sometimes, but not to please others, I just do it when I feel like it. Some days, I still wear short skirts even when I don’t shave my legs. I try to ignore negative comments that I get and remind myself that this is natural and that I have nothing to be ashamed of."

(Nadine, 23)



Pictured: Alani, 25.


"So, fuck it if I have hairy pits or legs. I’m comfortable and it should be that simple for everyone."


"My relationship with my body hair has gone a long way since I was little old me. I used to look in the mirror and selectively see my moustache or my unkempt brows and hairy arms but now I don’t. 

I feel secure in my womanhood, away from gendered expectations. Performing what I want womanhood to look like. So, fuck it if I have hairy pits or legs. I’m comfortable and it should be that simple for everyone. Being comfortable in our own bodies—hairy or not."

(Maira, 22)


Editor's note: I'm grateful to have received all your stories on growing up with body hair as a woman. As someone who occasionally struggles with liking my own body hair, it's comforting knowing that we share similar experiences with insecurity and acceptance as women. Body hair or no body hair is beautiful and shaving should be a choice rather than something we feel that we must do in order to be perceived as or feel attractive. Thank you once more for all your submissions, pictures, and to those who let me photograph them. Do give the other blog posts a read! 

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