To Shave Or Not To Shave: Women’s Hairy Affair

Women are finally having their hairy self-discovery amidst the pandemic and are starting to embrace their bodies.

We, as a society, have upheld certain beauty standards as sacred, and the idea of women sans body hair is definitely one of them. From our parlor didi stripping us raw and harassing us for being hairy every month, to the constant battle of getting done the perfect eyebrows, it’s safe to say that this lockdown has seen some newly adopted beauty standards that are starkly different from our old ones.

“I think one thing that this lockdown has taught me, is how okay and normal it is to have hair on your body. I don’t rush to the parlor to get waxed every month now. Instead of feeling disgusted, I’ve started accepting my body hair. I don’t shave them off anymore just to look presentable for the society, I shave them because I CHOSE to do so consciously and to feel comfortable,” says Sana Arora, a 23-year-old consulting associate at EY, while explaining her pre-covid struggle to get waxed every month as to maintain her appearance in her office. 

Now that we don’t know what day of the week it is, and time has no meaning, our ‘get waxed’ date on the calendar has been happily skipped by so many of us for far too long now. Plus, when you’re in the middle of a pandemic and start to consider the important things that actually matter right now, body-hair maintenance doesn’t seem to be that high of a priority.

Riya Rajan, a 22-year-old student at Ambedkar University believes how it’s actually been quite fascinating and liberating to let her hair grow out. It has made her re-think how much time and effort she used to put into it, and how much she actually cares about it. “Instead of spending time shaving my body hair for nothing, I can happily say that I get to spend that time on so many other things that are actually important to me. I think post-pandemic when I start going out regularly, I’m going to feel a lot less pressured to shave it,” Rajan adds. 

This lockdown period has meant a lot of different things for different women. Now that all of us have had time to sit alone with our thoughts, and really look out for what we really want and what we feel comfortable in, it’s been a back-to-back abandoning of things that we were classically conditioned to opt for, but didn’t necessarily need. From the nightmarish underwire bras to our long makeup routines, women are finally leaving behind everything that they were ‘told by the society’ to do, to look prettier and more presentable, and instead of taking the narrative back in their hands. 

“Body hair was and is something I’ve always been conscious about. From uneasy looks on faces to being name called as a ‘bear’ in high school- such incidents aren’t easily forgotten, no matter how hard I try. A hint of hair on my arm used to make me rush to the parlor to get them waxed off. However, this lockdown has taught me to look at myself in a different light. I’m being kinder to myself, realizing that my body hair doesn’t define my prettiness. I guess now when I’ll shave, it will not be because I despise my body hair, but more just for myself,” says the 32-year-old Assistant consultant, Aditi Mittal from Delhi. 

The question is not about shaving your body hair or not, it’s about whether you’re choosing to do so or just doing it out of an obligation to look presentable in society. 

While having a conversation with Shuchita Jain, a 28-year-old Financial Analyst from Delhi, she explained to us how this lockdown made her realize her real reasons for getting waxed. “I always used to think that I used to wax purely for myself, but this lockdown made me come face to face with reality. Normally, I’d make sure that my hands and legs were waxed before a date and eyebrows perfectly threaded. It felt a little awkward to realize how I’ve been waxing to look a certain way for men or society and not myself. I mean I don’t really mind my body hair to be honest, but that was only when no one was looking,” she says.

It’s strange that it took a pandemic to finally make us realize that obsessing over our hairiness being exposed wasn’t adding any happiness to our life. But it has still been one small, positive thing to come out of this pandemic. Amidst everything going on, seeing that our hair hasn’t stopped growing is a reminder that we haven’t stopped growing either. Even though it seems like our life has been frozen or paused at the start of March, the constant hair growth serves as a reminder of the very real passage of time. 

With all the things that we’re leaving behind, it’s time we leave the societal expectations of women behind too.

A media student with a knack of creating art in however way she can. You'll find Ritu in a corner watching a movie with a Taco in her hand

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