Back in Sec 2, I confided in my bestie at the time about this classmate of ours whom I was crushing on, hardcore. Her response, delivered stone-cold with a straight face?
“If you want him to even consider you, I think you should start by at least shaving your legs first.”
Such was the story of my life. I gazed down to see my fair-skinned legs, prickly with dark and coarse hair shooting out like cactus needles.
It’s not that I didn’t want to shave, either. It was such a high-commitment chore! Dealing with the little “seedlings” in between clean-shaven and full-blown strands is a literal pain too. I’ve ever had a friend politely request for me to not stand so close to her during P.E ‘cause my fresh hair tips were “poking” her.
Here are some other hairy situations I’ve found myself in along the way, and how I’ve eventually come to accept myself in all my fuzzy glory.
To fully grasp the degree of my desperation to become hairless, even as a preteen, let’s journey back to my primary school years in Australia. Surrounded by Caucasians with significantly lighter and finer “peach fuzz” as compared to my dark black upper lip strands, I was mercilessly teased for being a girl with a MOUSTACHE.
Obviously I couldn’t just strut into a hair removal centre as a literal child, so my young and foolish self decided to experiment with some DIY home remedies instead…by smearing honey on my upper lip and trying to rip my ‘stache off with masking tape.
More tales of my hair removal misadventures later on! But first, some everyday inconveniences that I’m sure all my hairy sistas can relate to.
The staggering amount of hair I have on my arm, coupled with their sheer length and darkness, means that any time I get cold and start getting goosebumps, the thousands of strands shoot towards the skies and stand on edge…swaying in the breeze like a lalang field.
Image adapted from: Cheer Up Emo Kid
Being hairy also means you have to tailor your activity schedule and clothing choices to a tee. Planning on donning a skirt, dress or shorts tomorrow? Better make sure you wake up early to shave those gams.
Heading to the beach or pool requires full-body de-hairifying (totally not a real word btw), a task which requires more commitment and energy than I’d care to muster on a regular basis.
Image credit: Renae Cheng
I’ve heard of some hairy gal pals who are so self-conscious that they’d even shave before a massage session at the spa, ‘cause God forbid the masseuse feels even a single prickle when she’s just trying to do her job.
While the larger body parts receive immediate attention, tiny areas have the potential to cramp our style too. I can’t begin to tell you how many manicures I passed up on documenting online, or photos of cute rings and bracelets I avoided posting because my pesky knuckle hairs can be seen.
Ahhh yes, don’t even get me started on stepping out with toe revealing footwear without having taken care of the toe hairs. Time to U-turn home, head hanging with shame!
Because I was visibly hairier than most girls since I was a child, I grew increasingly desensitised to being the subject of various “stereotypes” throughout my 24 years on this Earth.
The most common one would be that hairy girls have a higher sex drive, which I guess isn’t that far-fetched biologically speaking as hairiness does correlate with higher amounts of testosterone. Still, it’s pretty strange for someone to sneak a peek of your hairiness before sizing you up as some horndog.
I’ve also heard people claiming that hairiness equates to higher intelligence, which sounds like an absolutely made-up statement used as consolation so hairy girls don’t feel so…manly and self-conscious.
Perhaps the most absurd belief that’s been fed to me, was an auntie telling me with all the confidence in the world that I was #blessed to be extra hairy, as body hair is a natural way of warding off the supernatural. I kid you not, she was aggressively urging me NEVER to shave my body hair no matter the circumstances. For that would mean stripping myself of my protection against ghosts. Ummm…
Besides stereotypes ranging from silly to somewhat scientifically sound, there are also cultural beliefs pertaining to female body hair that are, pardon the pun, rooted in tradition.
Back in secondary school, a girl in our Modern Dance CCA became fairly notorious for not shaving her pits. While this was no biggie on regular days, the coach explicitly ordered her to remove her rather bushy tufts of underarm hair during competition season as it stood out severely when the entire team was clad in light-coloured, sleeveless costumes.
According to the poor lass, body hair removal is a strict no-no in her family due to cultural guidelines stemming several generations. Even shaving once for a performance before letting it grow out again afterwards would land her in hot water with her super traditional mum, so she stood her ground against the dance coach and was eventually booted out of the CCA altogether 🙁
After my childhood “masking tape and honey” DIY waxing experiment failed spectacularly, I had no choice but to slowly and painfully tweeze out the hairs surrounding my mouth, strand by excruciating strand.
I discovered threading during my poly years and, although it still hurt like crazy, at least the process was done and dusted in 5 minutes flat. For the uninitiated, threading involves skilfully yanking fine hairs out with swift motions of a twisted thread.
The pain always leads to tears in my eyes by the end of the procedure, but the aestheticians never fail to smile supportively and pass me a tissue after gingerly soothing my newly bald upper lip area with aromatic jasmine water. It really makes you feel loved <3
Facial hair aside, I’ve dabbled in all the conventional ways of body hair removal you could think of.
Shaving regularly is a chore, and it doesn’t help that I suffer from eczema and sensitive skin which is only aggravated by constantly running razors across raw wounds.
Side note: Has anyone ever paused to think about how ridiculous shaver ads for women are? They’re always showcasing the product gliding over some picture-perfect model’s already smooth and completely hairless leg.
There’s a meme that says, “If you want to impress, shave a gorilla instead”. While we don’t condone animal cruelty, we couldn’t agree more on the uselessness of some mainstream advertising imagery.
Hair removal creams seemed almost too good to be true. Smear a magical concoction on your hairy areas, leave it on while you chill and do your own thang and, hey presto! Those pesky hairs have been ridden without you feeling a thing?
Once I caught sight of the squiggly remains of my hairs which were destroyed by a harmless looking cream, it sank in just how harsh and potentially dangerous the formula was. Especially for somebody who’s already plagued with skin issues. I’ve also heard horror stories from fellow hairy females who had left the cream on a tad too long and suffered searing chemical burns as a result. Big yikes.
Then we have waxing, which is often associated with high pain, but high reward. Endure one split second of pain, in exchange for an entire patch’s worth of hair uprooted at one go. What I’ve learnt, however, is that the psychological torture of the moments leading up to The Big Rip are perhaps even harder to handle.
Just between you and me…the brazilian area is undoubtedly the most unbearable. The skin is more delicate, but the hairs are conversely thicker ‘cause our bodies were designed to protect our reproductive organs.
The last time I lay down on the waxing bed, lady bits out in the open while the aesthetician smeared hot wax around my nooks and crannies, I found myself fully relating to Cardi B’s infamous waxing tweet, and seriously contemplated tapping out halfway as well.
Last but not least, there’s IPL or laser removal. Yet another method that seems too good to be true, the aesthetician goes “zip, zap, zop” on your desired areas and boom. You’re bald as a baby.
Because IPL is a relatively fuss-free and convenient procedure where high-tech machinery is employed, the prices can be a tad high. This means sketchy salons will take to social media with promotions claiming to give you lifetime, unlimited lifetime IPL for next to nothing. DO NOT FALL FOR IT.
My foolish self sauntered into one such salon, expecting my hairy woes to be behind me as I could swing by after work and zap my hairs away whenever I wanted, for the rest of my days.
Long story short, they’ll reveal that the amazing promotion only applies to an ancient, outdated IPL machine which will “sting” terribly when operated on you (their words, not mine). Anyone would be freaked out at this point, given the way they liken the procedure to medieval torture. So they come swooping in with an introduction to their brand new IPL machine which will be 100% painless, but also available only at a 1000% marked up price. Hooray!
I got them to rip up my patient application form that day and proceeded to walk out.
My self-loathing used to be so severe, I’d even blame my parents for imparting upon me these genes of extreme hairiness. Looking back, I truly have come a long way since the days of being so crippled by self-consciousness, I didn’t even dare to head out wearing sleeveless tops, lest I incur judgemental stares to my “tiger-striped” hairy arms.
As a secondary school student who had nary a thing to worry about save for ‘O’ Level prep, dedicating a solid hour or so every day to rid my entire physical being of unwanted hair seemed totally worth the effort. Growing up and having bigger fish to fry in terms of life’s responsibilities has made me realise…nobody cares all that much.
Now that I’ve been thrust into the workforce and have to juggle a social life, staying active and everything else that young adulthood entails, I’d gladly snooze for an additional 45 minutes if it means having to strut into the office with a bit of fuzz on my face. Just as I’d forego an IPL session with what little free time I have during weekends to catch up with an old friend, in all my hairy glory that they probably couldn’t care less about.
These days, any hair removal I invest in is to achieve a state of hygiene, comfort and inner peace where I feel beautiful and good about myself, instead of succumbing to society’s norms to the point of obsession and unnecessary expenditure.
“Hello world, it’s been a while since we saw the light of day” – my legs, probably.
Even where my love life is concerned, I do go through the ritual of shaving pre-date just to remain presentable should I choose to throw on a leg-baring ensemble. But as we all mature into proper grownups who possess adequate understandings of how human bodies work, I wouldn’t be caught dead dating a man who squirms at the sight of a little stubble, as if women are supposed to be some slick, hairless mythical creatures.
From the money I get to save instead of buying exorbitant treatment packages to the numerous hours of shaving and tweezing I can now dedicate to better usage, I’m glad I finally reached a point of accepting the skin, and HAIR…that I’m in.
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