You sweet queer baby angel of light. You gorgeous woodland genderqueer fawn. You glittering trans forest nymph. I want to talk to you about your body, about its complexities and volumes. About its nonbinary elegance and multitudes. About its power. And more specifically, about its hair.
Do you remember when your body sprouted hair? You were in fourth grade when the follicles began to take root; they started on your legs. You hated your body hair because it made you feel so much older than the other kids at school. According to everything you'd been told, body hair meant you were “becoming a man.” So while you marveled at the sparse wisps on your shins (cute, baby hairs turning dark and thick, chaotic and curling), you felt not only your childhood, but your gender and your power to express femininity, slipping away.
With the hair came a pressure to be someone you weren't. The masculinity of your body appeared decisive to others. To an outside observer, it settled the question. Sure, you may have been girly, but you were unmistakably a boy. It proclaimed a false truth; issued a flawed decree. Jacob is becoming a man.
Your hairy legs were gradually joined by your armpits, then your face, your chest, your belly, and, most recently, your back. For two decades, hair has been slowly spreading across your body, taking up all the space it can find, coating any part of your body it can manage.
For as long as you've had body hair, you've struggled to feel beautiful in your skin. Everywhere you turn in pop culture, you see hairless torsos: barren plains that were once blooming fields, weed-whacked to death in the interest of fashion, roots ripped up again and again. Whenever you see a body — genderqueer or nonbinary or trans or cis, intersex or female or male — celebrated on a billboard or glorified in a fashion magazine, it seems to be bereft of fuzz. The rules are ubiquitous across mediums: if you are male-bodied, you must not have copious hair on your belly in order to be sexy. You must not have hair on your back if you want to be sexy. You must have an appropriate amount of leg hair, an appropriate amount of chest hair. If you are female-bodied, you must have only the hair on your head. They are ruthless, totalizing standards. Your body has never been able to play within those bounds. You've spent most of your life feeling quietly ugly because your belly is blanketed with fluff.
And as you began to embrace your nonbinary identity, things only got worse. Your body hair was no longer solely unacceptable on the grounds of male beauty standards, it was completely unacceptable on the basis of gender; unacceptable for someone who wanted to wear lipstick, to strut in heels, to sport dangling earrings, to be femme.
You spent your early 20s contending with the fact that you were both hairy and feminine. That you have a nonbinary soul in a body that is anything but androgynous. Learning to feel confident enough to rock chest hair in a dress. Learning to celebrate your hairy thighs and show them to the sun. Trying and failing to find examples of hairy feminine people being celebrated in the world. Trying and failing to maintain your self-esteem each time fashion week rolls around and, yet again, there are few hairy bodies present and certainly no hairy bodies in gowns.
You have a lot working against you. The path to self-esteem and body positivity is long, and changing beauty norms on a mass cultural level takes even longer. You have not finished this work; your internal sense of beauty is still very much under construction.
But in the interest of aiding in that process, I want to remind you of a few things that are true.
First off, having body hair doesn't make you less feminine. Fighting to feel confident in a world that tells you that your body hair makes you ugly and “mannish” is a struggle that all women know. If anything, taking pride in your body hair doesn't make you less of a woman; it makes you more of one. Taking pride in your body hair means resisting patriarchal beauty norms, pushing back against gender policing, being in touch with your feminine power, and joining a fight that feminists have been waging for generations.
Which brings me to the second thing. You aren't alone in this. Women and nonbinary and trans people all across the world are shamed because they are hairy in the wrong places. Men throughout the globe are often subjected to the same ridiculous idea that the only way to be an attractive person is to have hair-free abdominal muscles. You're fighting this thing alongside millions of other people who are working to build a more body-positive world; who are relearning self-esteem after decades of being told they were less than. You aren't alone in struggling.
Third, shame about your body hair is unnatural. It is a cultural construct, not a fundamental truth. It's society deciding what's beautiful and what's ugly. The more you connect with your body hair and take pride in it, the more you are reclaiming your power from those garbage people.
Fourth, shame about body hair alienates you from your family tree. As an Arab- American, your body hair has always been the most notable feature of your ethnic heritage. You are a hairy, half-Lebanese princess. It is a natural and precious part of your history, of who you are, and of where you come from. Why, then, does the world want you to have body hair that is unobtrusive, light in color, sparse, and thin? Why can't your body bloom hair that is soft in places and coarse in others and still be celebrated as beautiful? Why can't your body grow hair that is long and boisterous and dark and curly and Mediterranean without you being made to feel ugly? Why is hairlessness – something that is not the default for most people in the world — held up as the beauty standard? Could it have anything to do with cultural imperialism and white supremacy? (Spoiler alert: it does).
Lastly, your body hair is not only perfectly normal, it is sexy. You deserve partners who can hold all the complexities of your gender and your body and your heritage. You deserve partners who will compliment your dress, kiss your pigmented lips. You deserve to feel sexy because of your gender and your body hair – those two things are not a contradiction. Your tummy feels like a goddamn teddy bear; your legs, a pair of fluffy pajamas; your tush, a velvet dream — what partner wouldn't love that?
Don't let the world lie to you: your body hair is a beautiful, beautiful thing. Fuzz ahoy, baby!
Read more on: hair