When I was 16, it was brought to my attention that I had sideburns. And you’re probably thinking, so what? Most people do. And you’re right. But to me back then, it set off alarm bells in my head; some unthinkable notion that a young teenage girl could possibly have body hair, let alone hair growing down their cheek.
Upon even closer inspection in the bathroom mirror, I realised that my whole face was covered in teeny tiny hairs, “peach fuzz” if you will. Again, it’s completely normal and to be honest, it probably wasn’t even visible to others but to me those little hairs came to my attention like a slap in the face. So I took a bottle of Veet and smeared it all over my face like a face mask.
No, I’m not kidding. I wish I was. Instead, I sat on the bathroom floor with burning cheeks and wondered why I even thought for a second that it would be a good idea. I was overcome by the notion that smoother was (somehow) better and that my little, fluffy peach fuzz simply didn’t belong on my face. Thinking back, I ask myself why? Why on earth would I even consider doing something like that? And while this little incident could be simply explained as a teenage insecurity, I’d be lying if I said that social media didn’t factor into the problem as well.
Back then, while social media wasn’t as prevalent as it is today, most teenagers like myself had some sort of social media platform – like Instagram, for example. On these platforms, I (and I’m sure many others) was exposed to the unrealistic standards of beauty that the world projected on us. One of these many standards was virtually hairless bodies, as seen on models and actresses. I remember noticing that most magazines and movies showed women with little to no visible body hair which made it seem like the norm; there wasn’t really any body hair positive representation to suggest otherwise. With no noticeable opposition to this beauty standard, it was difficult to reassure teens like myself that what my body looked like was normal and natural.
Since then, my relationship with my body hair has changed a lot and luckily, for the better too. I don’t have as much of a problem with it now because my general outlook on body hair has changed. I view hair removal as a personal preference and choice rather than a way to fit in with societal expectations. Over the past few years, I realised that I was worried about what people might think – but then it dawned on me that it was absolutely none of their business what I did with my own body hair. It seems like a simple solution but it didn’t hit me for a while. This realisation came from me working hard at learning to love myself, my body and everything that it does for me, and from that came a confidence and reassurance that I hadn’t felt growing up.
Looking back makes me want to tell my teenage self that it’s okay. It’s okay that your body grows hair because all bodies do. Also, hair removal isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it shouldn’t be something that you feel pressured to do either because it is entirely your choice. I’d tell myself that even though it might seem impossible and a little cliche, learning to love yourself and your body can be so liberating because the things about yourself that you may have disliked or worried about before, seem so small and insignificant. And with that weight lifted off your shoulders, you can live your life without worrying about other people’s opinions because at the end of the day, it’s your life (and body), not theirs.
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