'We Don't Remove Our Body Hair - What's The Big Deal?'
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Featured Image Credit: @c4tchm3ify0ucan Instagram / Becky Darbyshire handout.
Whilst a bit of leg stubble may sound trivial to some, over 81% of people wished they didn’t feel so much pressure to remove their body hair in the summer months, according to a survey by Estrid.
So, Tyla has spoken to three women who are au naturel and proud of it.
‘This isn’t porn, it’s real-life…Girls have body hair!’
Baneen Abbas 19, London
Baneen was between 16 and 17 years old when she ‘decided to be more confident’ about her body hair.
“I can’t remember the last time I shaved my belly or my back. I would literally have to bend in weird ways just to shave [there],” the 19-year-old told Tyla.
“I didn’t have lots of followers at the time, I just decided to share it because TikTok is one of those things where you’re just supposed to be unapologetically yourself,” she said. “So that’s what I tried to do.”
Despite it being completely ‘normal’ for women ‘to have some body hair’, according to Intimate health expert Dr Shirin Lakhani, Baneen was wary about letting anybody see her body in its natural state.
“If people were seeing my skin, it was being shaved. There was no hair that was being left on my body,” she admitted.
However, Dr Shirin told Tyla that ‘most people develop pubic hair as a response to rising testosterone levels during puberty.’
“It’s a physical sign of sexual maturity and it is normal to have some body hair but how pubic hair grows depends on the individual. Some ethnic groups have darker and more hair than others and it can also run in families.”
Although she had initial worries about letting her body hair grow out, ‘no one has ever said anything to me to my face about my hair,’ Baneen explained.
“My first romantic partner is the person who made me most comfortable with my body hair. People who care about stuff like that, they’re just very shallow human beings.
“You don’t necessarily have to find something attractive to be able to be around someone and respect them for how their body looks.
“If anything, I think having this body hair makes you seem like more of a human. This isn’t porn, it’s real-life…Girls have body hair.”
And Baneen is right. “Porn can sometimes be known for setting unrealistic body expectations for its viewers, both men and women,” Tracey Coates, a relationship expert at Ricky told us.
“A topic within the sex industry that is not so commonly discussed is that the majority of women in porn are seen with no body hair whatsoever.
“It’s now becoming more widely accepted for women to have body hair and we should be learning to love our bodies how they are, including the hair that grows with it. Having body hair doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) affect sexual intercourse and foreplay for anyone,” Tracey said.
‘My views on body hair completely changed since I was younger.’
Becky Derbyshire, 39, Gloucestershire
Becky Derbyshire, a lifestyle blogger, stopped shaving her underarms ‘three-to-four years ago’ due to suffering from painful razor bumps, or folliculitis, in the area.
The Lifestyle Blogger UK told us: “I found every time I did, I’d get a rash under my arms and it would be really itchy and sore.”
Before deciding to quit her shaving routine, Becky was previously ‘always [using] a razor…maybe every other day.’
“When I was younger, I can remember being very aware of body hair and body odour. Back then the thought of not shaving everyday or every other day would have been terrifying. Whereas now, I don’t really care.”
Once Becky stopped shaving so regularly, she realised that she didn’t actually need to shave so often - if at all. “The more I left it, I found the more I didn't really think about it. And then actually, over time, my hair has pretty much stopped growing.”
In fact, a waxing therapist at Sugar Coated confirmed that ‘once you stop shaving’ the hairs will continue to grow in its natural growth pattern, as opposed to growing back ‘stubbly’.
"The reason that once you start shaving the regrowth appears stronger is because the hairs are shaved from the top layer of the skin leaving the follicle strong, and the regrowth to be blunt, stubbly and rapid.
“However, once you stop shaving the hairs will eventually resume back to their original natural growth, which feels finer and softer."
But for Becky, “I don't really care what or how it looks. It's more about that I don't have the rash and the itchiness under my arms.
“And I just think if someone's going to have an issue with whether I have a bit of hair under my arms or not, I don't really care what that person's opinion of me is, anyway.”
‘I realised there was nothing wrong with me, and society and the beauty industry were to blame.’
Esther Calixte-Bea, 25, Montreal, Canada
Esther Calixte-Bea, an artist and body hair activist, opted to let her body hair grow out after ‘challenging herself’ to take part in the Maipoils body hair movement in Montreal in 2020.
“I was 22 and had finally decided to stop removing my chest hair since I had been using electrolysis to remove it.
“I wasn’t feeling like myself anymore when it was completely gone. I had been working on my relationship with my body hair and self-esteem that year and had started liking my chest hair.”
Now, Esther, known widely as Queen Esie on social media, proudly showcases the hair on her chest, as well as her legs, stomach and underarms, and is absolutely rocking it.
“As a hairy woman that has been painfully removing my body hair for years, I had finally realized that I had been conditioned to do so by society without the option of keeping my body hair simply because I am a woman.
“I stopped removing my chest hair after realizing that there was nothing wrong with me and that society and the beauty industry were to blame,” she told us.
Now, thanks to women like Esie, people are becoming more comfortable with embracing their body hair.
“Women are reclaiming their power,” Tajinder Kaur, a body confidence coach told Tyla of the new hair movement.
“It’s ultimately their choice. Having an expectation women will shave, laser or wax to please society, peers or men is laughable.
“Why is there only pressure on women to keep up appearances yet men get away with the bare minimum? Since the pandemic, women have been investing in themselves and their self-love journey.”
Whether you're happy to keep the hair on your body, or choose to remove it, it's important to remember that body hair is a personal choice.
However, if you’re experiencing low self-esteem, contact Mind on 0300 123 3393 between 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday (except bank holidays). Alternatively, you can visit their website here.