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Uncomfortable Beauty

By Megan Murray

Recently, a friend of mine put this link up on her FB page.  For those who don’t want to go through the website due to personal beliefs or if you don’t want to scratch your head until it bleeds, I will give you the quick and dirty.  Someone, posted a picture of a Sikh woman with facial hair on a website.

Yes, she has facial hair.  She is absolutely unapologetic about it.  She is a Sikh and She explains “However, baptized Sikhs believe in the sacredness of this body – it is a gift that has been given to us by the Divine Being [which is genderless, actually] and, must keep it intact as a submission to the divine will.”

Now, I know this could bring up a lot of religious and political implications, but I want to talk about this purely from a beauty–related place.

We currently live in a culture where body hair is seen as some kind of moral failing.  Body hair is considered  “dirty” and must be eradicated.  We use blades, caustic chemicals, hot wax and other torture devices to get rid of it.  Facial hair is an even worse crime against humanity.  Not only do you have to get rid of your facial hair, you have to do so in a very prescribed manner.  HEAVEN FORBID you decide to use a razor!

I have been fighting the battle of hair removal for a very long time. I am from the mixed Caucasian ethnicity tribe.  So, basically, butt-white skin with black body hair that renders even weed whackers useless.  I can shave my legs at 7:00 am and by 7:03 am I have stubble.  I can get my eyebrows waxed on Tuesday and by Friday,  I am perilously close to rocking the Bert.  I am not allowed to have body hair because it is considered dirty and unacceptable.  Even men don’t get out of this trauma.  My brother who gets 10:00 am stubble had to dry shave one day in high school because of a nun who believed facial hair was the downfall of Western Civilization.

Where do we get this aversion to something we can’t control?  A German acquaintance quizzed me on this once.  He asked me if I was ashamed of being a mammal.  I am ashamed of my hair growth. I have been ashamed of it since I was a little girl.  My Middle Eastern and Italian family members have so many stories of people doubting their cleanliness’ and even self- control due to their body hair. If you are hairy you are expected to be on top of it every minute of every day and if you have an off day-well you are offensive.

This woman’s stand is so amazing because she is risking more than a few stares.  She is facing economic and societal punishment. Because like it or not, the way you look DOES have an impact on your life.  Just go into any work place and see who gets different types of jobs.  I probably will never be hired for the type of job I would excel in because of the way I look.  This woman is staring down so much more and she looks at the alternative, that would probably give her an easier ride and she says, “ I’m good.”

It must be freeing to accept yourself in such a public way.

  • http://beauty-junkie.fragile-things.com Bethany

    Happened to stumble upon this on Hello Cotton. Balpreet is clearly a very strong woman. And I commend you for tackling a subject that can be a bit polarising.

    I think I have a slight hormonal imbalance, so I naturally seem to get fine hair around my chin. My sisters tease me mercilessly for it. I obsessively pluck it or even shave it sometimes. And I hate feeling like if I don’t, society is judging me. It’s a shame we can’t just accept that our standard of ‘beauty’ isn’t really natural.

  • Sheila – Painted Ladies

    I absolutely love this part of her response: “So, to me, my face isn’t important but the smile and the happiness that lie behind the face are.”

  • http://lolassecretbeautyblog.blogspot.com lola

    A very thought provoking post. Society really conditions us about what we accept as the norm. When it comes to the construct of beauty- we really are conditioned to believe in the pre-set categories, and anything that varies too greatly tends to be dismissed as aberrant and unacceptable. Thank you!!

  • Wendy

    Wonderful post Megan!

  • Jean

    Great post Megan. I am another of Italian descent with hair everywhere. I was shaving and plucking long before any of my friends. Good for her being so at peace with herself, me however, will continue with the daily torture till I die……and then my surviving friends will come to my funeral with tweezers so I don’t go out looking like a Bert….. ;)

  • Nina

    I know, in my personal experience, appearance is made to be the be all and end all of existence. I have friends and family who have had facial hair and as females have done everything to get rid of it. Electrolosis, waxing, bleaching, shaving, epilady like items of torture. And those, often create additional problems, ingrown hairs, red inflamed skin, etc…why is personal appearance so important? Ive lived on both ends of thr weight spectrum from wearing boy’s slim clothes and being made fun of for being so skinny due mostly to severe health problems. When those resolved, and I hit puberty, i gained weight. Suddenly I was disgusting for being overweight. My mother told me I would never be loved, no one would ever marry me, no one wold ever hire me, etc…i wish I could feel the way the lady in this article does about herself and life and her appearance. Do you think appearance is more important in america? Why? How do we change our feelings about ourself and others to be more accepting and loving?thats what matters to me.