Let’s talk about this year’s popular topic – Beauty Standards. Beauty standards, as propagated by fashion houses / magazines, are one extreme of the spectrum and I won’t be talking about that. I’ve never been one to follow trends so fashion houses / magazines don’t bother me at all. What I will be talking about is a beauty standard that we have internalized. It’s not even something I hear from fashion houses; it’s something I hear from other women around me. Hair Removal. Why God, why?!
It’s the one thing in my life that I can’t come to terms with. The first time I waxed my hands and legs was when I was 16/17 years old. And I did it because the other girls in my school had hairless limbs and it looked good! After a while I started getting very conscious of wearing skirts if I hadn’t waxed my legs. But waxing my arms and legs is still doable for me. It isn’t too painful and I actually prefer hairless legs. The other side of this is that it is expected of me. It is expected of women. The few times that I have seen women and men look at women with even slightly hairy legs I have felt an implicit societal pressure. The thought of being looked at like that, the vision of me walking into a room and all eyes go to my unwaxed legs first, fills me with dread. I take pride in the fact that I’m not easily swayed by ‘norms’ but this is something I’m ashamed of. This is one of the few aspects of my life where I have let others dictate my actions. When I’m at home, actually when I’m in my room, I don’t give my unwaxed legs a thought. It’s only when I have to go out and want to wear a skirt/dress that I get my ass over to the salon. I hate salons. It’s my least favorite place. As soon as I think of a salon, I think of pain. That’s what I associate salons with. Not just that; beauticians have to sell beauty. How do they sell beauty you ask? By making you feel ugly. You go there to do one thing, and they’ll casually ask “how about the forehead?” If you say no, they’ll point out that it’s hairy. And the fact is, a lot of women are conscious of their beauty. So when we’re made to feel ugly in public, it eats at our self worth. But they’re beauticians and it is their business so naturally they’ll try to up-sell their services. The real problem I feel, is with women.
The first time I got my eyebrows threaded was when I was 18 years old and I did it on the insistence of my aunt. My mum never did any of these beauty related things so naturally she didn’t have much to say to me about it. In fact, she was quite surprised when she first realized I had waxed my limbs. Thank god for a mum like her! Anyway, coming back to the eyebrows story, I had done it because my aunt insisted on it. I think she said it has the power to change your face. And it does! It really does. Just that it comes with a lot of pain. Also, once you start doing it, you have to keep going. When the hair grows again and it’s in the early stages of growth, it looks ugly. You can clearly tell that it’s not natural – and that’s my other problem with getting my eyebrows done. (Or even coloring my hair) It’s clearly altered. I have never understood the thought process behind wanting to look like something that’s altered. For instance, coloured contacts. I mean, really?! If you choose the color smartly, that’s still passable. But who are you trying to fool into thinking you were born with brown skin and grey eyes? To each her own I guess. Anyway, back to eyebrows. When you see a woman, you can clearly tell if her eyebrows are done up or natural. You can clearly make out that this woman has gone to the parlour and endured the pain that comes with this. And what for? I just don’t get it. And oft times I wondered why my aunt insisted on it. How could a woman who knew the nonsensical pain want her niece to do it too? What life-changing good was to come from this?
So about a year ago I stopped getting my eyebrows done. I actually like looking natural. I don’t think my beauty gets greatly enhanced with perfectly plucked and trimmed eyebrows. Therefore I couldn’t keep justifying the pain I was putting myself through (even if it’s for 10-15 mins). I let it grow naturally, occasionally tweezed a few stray strands, and never used eyebrow pencil/powder. A year later I’m amazed at why I put myself through this nonsensical pain for so many years. Here are two pictures – the first is from the time I used to get my eyebrows done. The second is more recent, when I didn’t get my eyebrows done. I don’t think my face looks all that different. Do you?
I hate the process of hair removal. I can’t wait for the day when feminists give rise to the movement of sporting hairy arms and legs and going au natural.