by Duriba Khan
I’m not like other girls. And when I say this, I don’t mean it in a condescending way — when I say it, my head does not suddenly inflate with pride. In fact, my head falls.
I’m not like other girls because I’m hairy (and I suck at removing it!).
At a very young age, this trait of mine somehow overpowered everything else I had to offer. When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t notice my beaming, crooked smile or how sparkly my eyes were.
Instead, I poked and tweezed at the bridge between my eyebrows. The stubble on my chin. The sideburns that grew by my ears, and somehow never stopped. The thick black hairs that covered every inch of my brown skin: from my neck to my toes.
It’s true that our world has a lot to work on. But something I am and always will be grateful for is how far we have come in terms of the acceptance of our bodies. Watching Ayqa Khan speak about something that is common and applies to so many of us in a video by Allure, one of the top beauty magazines, is something I thought I’d never get to see.
Removing body hair is and always will be a huge struggle for South Asian women. As Khan points out about her experiences with removing body hair, “it was like survival tactics.” I couldn’t agree more. As a 12-year-old, I remember specifically looking forward to getting my eyebrows done. My arms waxed. My legs waxed. I wanted to be “normal.”
And sadly, not much has changed. To this day, I still struggle with this issue. I pay hundreds of dollars per year to attend monthly laser hair removal appointments to prevent a hairy face. I endure so much pain to have hairless arms and legs. I spend a lot of time picking at the hair on my thighs, the back of my neck...never feeling like I am enough.
And although I’m a proponent of smooth skin, I firmly believe that we should remove body hair solely because it is a choice, not because it’s “ugly” and “unfeminine” or because it’s “gross.” Body hair is normal. Having body hair is like having teeth — it’s absolutely natural. Except the only difference is that teeth actually hurt people if you bite them. Body hair literally does nothing.
So although many may jeer at Khan for committing “social suicide,” I applaud her for defying societal expectations, for teaching people a lesson, and for listening to her heart. I hope that one day, I too possess her confidence and strength.
Pondering about my own body hair and what it means to me, a thought is sparked in my mind: isn’t it funny how everything that is deemed “feminine” in society goes against everything that comes naturally to us?