I have not removed
any of my body hair in three and a half years
May 5, 2005
I was in the third grade when it started. I remember being
on the playground playing with a girl in my class. A boy walked up
to us and asked me "Why do you have hair on your legs?"
At my tender age of eight I had no clue how to respond because
I really didn't know. I thought about it for a minute and looked
at the legs of the girl I was playing with, pasty and bare and
all of a sudden it hit me:
I was different.
And from that day forward I was reminded of it every single moment
the teacher's back was turned; it seems the children in my class
felt the need to remind me on a regular basis that I was "hairy," "gross," a "werewolf," and
a "woolly mammoth," or just "woolly" for those
more informal moments. It would be easier to count the number of
days I came home from school those years not sobbing. Each and
every day I would beg my mother to let me shave my legs, and she
would always tell me I was too young. "But mamaaaaaaaaan!
You don't know how they tease meeee!"
Fast forward seven years: 6:00 A.M. and the alarm clock is ringing.
T-Minus 2.25 hours until school begins.
When I was in high school I woke up two hours early each morning
for hair care - and not the kind on my head. I would drag myself
out of bed and into the shower to shave my legs, my armpits and
any other body parts with hair that ran the risk of being exposed.
When I began middle school my mother finally allowed me to shave
my legs; those three years my family went through at least $1,000
in band-aids, but by the time I reached high school I was a veteran.
I knew exactly how long I needed to shave each body part, how
many hours I had until stubble began to appear and what hair
creams worked best. I was a shaving, tweezing, waxing maniac.
My eyebrows, arms, armpits, legs, bikini line and facial hair
fell victim to my daily violent hair-removing frenzies.
As time went on, it began to become a chore, not that it was
ever pleasant to rip hair out of my flesh, mind you, but I did
it because I felt like I had to in order to be normal, accepted;
I didn't enjoy being an outcast in the elementary school caste
system and I had no intentions of going back.
Eventually though I just grew weary of it. It was exhausting
to shave everyday, to be paranoid about how much stubble would
begin to show by the evening; it was painful to brush hot wax onto
my arms and ruthlessly rip the hair out, and to my gentlemen readers,
you have no idea what tedious work eyebrow shaping is, keeping
them even by sitting on the bed with a magnifying mirror for hours
plucking out stray hairs every single day.
The point is that, well ... it's pointless. That was my epiphany.
There is no benefit to removing body hair, no hygienic reason to
do it and honestly, there is no aesthetic reason to do it either
- removing our body hair just makes us look like the ten year olds
we were before puberty hit.
The fact is, yeah, we, as Persian women, do tend to have more
body hair than our Caucasian counterparts, but that's no reason
to remove it! Why does it seem like we're in a constant struggle
to look like Caucasian women? I see too many Persians dyeing their
hair blonde and zapping off their eyebrows with painful laser treatments.
What for? Because one day a kid walked up to you in the third grade
and asked why you had hair on your legs when the other girls didn't?
Because it just seemed like the right thing to do? Since... all
the other girls did it, right?
Every Persian woman I have encountered has been ashamed of their
hair... and I can't scold them because I used to be the same, but
eventually I figured out how bizarre the entire hair-removing idea
is... and no, it's never too late to stop; despite the old wives'
tales our khalehs spread when we were younger, your hair really
doesn't grow back thicker or darker, it just seems that way the
first week or two because it's stubble.
We are Persian women, we are dark, hairy and we are beautiful.
We are different from Caucasians and that's okay!
I'm not here to convert anyone, I can only share my experiences,
and I can say that I have not plucked my eyebrows, used hair removal
cream on my upper lip, shaved my legs, feet or toes, waxed my arms
or shaved my armpits in three and a half years. I have not removed
any of my body hair in three and a half years.
And I have never been so happy, felt so beautiful and yes, so
very proud to be Irooni.