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A man I briefly knew approached me during a party.
He looked down my legs, which were beautifully exposed in my shorts, stroked my shins without asking, nodded knowingly, and said, “Yes it was you.”
I already assumed it must be about my leg hair. I still gave him a questioning look and he responded, “I was around 20 meters behind you on my scooter and could see your leg hair from there. I was shocked.”
I gave him a sneaky grin because men reacting to hair that grew anywhere but on my head was nothing unusual.
“So?” I responded neutrally.
“You could come to my resort, and I will shave them for you.”
What a kind offer, wasn’t it?
It might have been a distorted way to flirt or a seemingly polite way to support me in fitting into the beauty standards. It doesn’t matter. Those comments happen often. Most of the time by men who tell me they are less attracted to me because of those tiny fibers growing naturally out of the pores of my skin.
What I loved most in this situation was that nothing inside me got affected. His comments didn’t touch my self-esteem at all. I didn’t take it personally. I knew where he was coming from, and I had left that place.
So, the only thing I said in response was, “Why would I shave them? They are beautiful.”
He didn’t know what to respond, smiled, and left.
But let me be clear: it’s not about whether my leg hair is beautiful or not. It’s not about us making a choice whether to shave or not. And it’s not about this one person’s comments. It is about the link between female body hair and self-love.
My bodily hair shouldn’t have anything to do with me feeling beautiful, lovable, or attractive. It shouldn’t matter, where and how much sprouts on my body.
Beauty standards, which are carried, reenacted, and solidified by us—by comments, by looks, and so much more—make it hard to feel lovable if we or parts of us don’t fit in.
So, here are the four reasons why I won’t shave my leg hair anytime soon:
1. It is easy to find self-love when we match the ever-changing standards.
We’ll get compliments, are looked at differently, and will maybe even look at ourselves with a proud, inner social gaze.
There is such a thing as pretty privilege.
In my experience, that’s a very conditional self-love though. It gets interesting when we allow ourselves to fall out of the standards. It was a roller-coaster journey for me to love all those parts of myself that are constantly devalued—shutting up those inner voices that actually just want to protect me but link my appearance with my self-worth.
Cutting those strings is powerful and liberating. I challenged myself for years. I took rest in-between by fitting in, before I went back into the hairy battlefields.
2. Attraction shouldn’t depend on where hair grows on a body.
That’s not what attracts me at least and, honestly, I want to attract people who feel the fascinating dance of energies the same way. If there is attraction, I find beauty. I do react to beauty standards—obviously. I’m absorbing them as well. But attraction is something else for me. I’m attracted to the whole being, and I want to connect with all that the other is, in an idiosyncratic way.
And such little things as body hair or fat don’t matter anymore. If someone loses what he/she calls attraction because of hair in certain places on my body, I’m sure that we’re looking for different things.
So, it’s a perfect filter for both of us. One might argue that there are just extremely individual preferences. But, where do they come from? Why is something as natural as hair considered ugly on a female body?
It’s conditioning! And it’s absolutely okay to live according to it. But I won’t.
Let me quote Farida D. on this: “The grizzly bear told me to shave. He said it as if the hair on his body was nature and mine was a f*cking curse.”
3. In every situation, I am a role model.
And our world needs the women who love themselves with curly hair jungles on their legs and armpits and those who embrace their beautiful belly fat.
It changes something. And I happily receive all those sarcastic comments about the bushes that decorate my body after the conversations I have with those who witnessed. I love them. Even young boys and girls approach me, intrigued, and ask questions. That matters. I show an alternative with simply loving my blond, thick bush.
(I suppose it’s much harder with dark hair, but we’re all in the same boat.)
4. There might be a change in the person who tells me that they are not attracted to me because of the hair.
Because now, after years of intensive self-love practice, I react differently. And cognitive dissonance opens an inner space for transformation. And we need gentlemen in those battles.
I want to end this by emphasizing the following: neither the hair nor the body is the problem. The inner link between self-esteem and look is. This strange, socially normalized habit for males telling females if they are attractive or not happens in a paradigm, in which women need to be objects of desire for men.
Isn’t it exhausting for all of us?
I’m out, and I’m connecting with those humans who stepped or are willing to step out as well.