Feminism on fleek

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Hairy armpits but still waxing the upperlip?

By: Kelsey Maggot

Around the world, women are challenging the norms by embracing their natural leg, underarm and pubic hair and sharing these images on social media. However, this trend has not extended to facial hair. In fact, the opposite has occurred, the shaping of eyebrows has become a widespread fashion statement and it is very common for women to wax their upper lip.

The irony of this has many people questioning why women embrace their body hair but continue to remove their facial hair. I believe the answer to this is personal for each woman and I have found this topic interesting to explore.

 I believe that female body hair is inseparably connected to feminism. Feminism encourages women to exercise choice over their bodies and to not feel obliged to follow societal expectations. Therefore, some feminists choose to remove their body hair and others choose not to. However, embracing female body hair is a powerful tool against the sexist beauty standard whereby women are viewed as gross for not looking like their prepubescent form and are shamed for embracing the natural state of their bodies.

Learning to embrace your body hair as a female is extremely difficult. We are brought up in a sexualised, conformist culture that conditions us to believe that it is required for girls to shave their body hair and for boys not to. Body hair is thus treated as if it is a masculine quality, and so is disregarded as a human quality.  Thus, when a woman chooses to go against this we can see that it has actually become an expectation, due to the violent opposition she faces. This opposition comes in the form of ridicule or shame and we are reminded that a woman’s body is believed to exist for someone else and not for herself.

Women’s facial hair as a result remains extremely difficult to embrace. Typically, the first thing we see when we look at someone is their front profile and so the upkeep of facial hair is emphasized. The stigma attached to women with facial hair is that they are supposedly unkempt, less feminine and so less beautiful. Showing us again that females are objectified due to the emphasis placed on how attractive they will be to others. Even though this remains true, some women choose to remove their facial hair due to it being empowering for them.

Although embracing female body hair can be a body-conscious political statement, a woman choosing to remove her hair could be just as political. When a woman chooses for herself, regardless of what that is, it is empowering and revolutionary. Society should not be focused on how a woman presents herself and her body in the world but rather how she shows up in her entirety for herself, other women and men and how she inspires them by breaking down barriers, being authentic and uniting all of humanity.

So for me, feminism on fleek is when women are supporting other women’s choices even if it doesn’t make sense to them and when men are able to accept women as whole human beings and not judge them as less attractive if they choose to embrace the natural state of their bodies.

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