Based on “The Broken Column” by Frida Kahlo
By Maya Fawaz
There, I’ve said it.
I have it.
I have a lot of it.
I sat down on the chair at the beauty salon, my feet barely touched the footrest. A woman leaned my chair back and stretched a thread from its spool, clenching one end of it with her teeth.
Individual hairs were ripped out from follicles.
My eyes watered from the pain.
I was only twelve.
The peachfuzz above my lip had been conquered, but the ongoing battle against my own body had only begun.
Pulling, plucking, threading, waxing, shaving.
I just wanted it gone.
I’ve gone to that same salon for over 7 years.
The pain is standard and now it’s almost relieving. I welcome this torture with open arms. I know when I rise from the chair I will once more be… beautiful.
I didn’t realize the extent of my obsession until I found myself desperately plucking at my cheeks and sideburns at 1:25 in the morning, the day before a big shoot. I hadn’t had time to get my usual waxing done.
I was afraid, mortified, that it would show on camera.
You see, I’m an “independent model”, which is a fancy title for someone who freelances their facial features because they won a genetic lottery. Ironically enough, I am constantly complimented on my eyebrows and eyelashes. How do we pick and choose the kind of body hair that is acceptable? How can we pick and choose which strands fall under our definition of beauty?
I have a terrible habit of comparing myself to other models and feeling that I don’t belong in the industry. Imposter syndrome, if you will. The biggest factor in all of this winds down to a very simple factor: hair.
Models need to be perfectly hairless.
Not a single strand of stubble to be seen.
This fixation on body hair goes beyond the modeling industry. Makeup companies and beauty photographers often use photoshop in order to smooth out any “imperfections,” but what is it about body hair that makes it wrong? Why does it get labeled as a flaw or indicated a corrupted image?
When other women have unshaven legs or pits I feel empowered by their bold femininity, but why can I not bring myself to do the same? Why do we fight against our body’s natural bodily functions?
We need to learn to let go of the stigmas surrounding women’s body hair.
We need to remind ourselves that the images we see online are not real.
We need to take a page from Frida’s book and learn to accept every hairy inch of our beautiful skin.
We need to rebrand the industry’s definition of “natural” beauty.
We need to love and stand up for one another
… no matter how hairy the situation may get.