“I had grown my first mustache before any of the boys in my class had grown a single hair on their face.
I was about ten years old when I was first made fun of for having body hair. As the story goes, it was one of the little boys at school who pointed at my face and practically shouted at the entire playground, “Look, she’s got a mustache!” “.
For the rest of that day, I could feel everyone’s eyes on me, eager to see the mustache themselves, and ended up in the infirmary with a “tummy ache” waiting for my mother to take me home early.
It’s not like, at ten years old, I didn’t already know about the hairs on my upper lip, but I suddenly realized that everyone knows about these hairs too. Next are people comparing their arm hair to mine. Their leg hair to mine. Their hair to fingers to mine.
My thick, dark Sri Lankan hair made me feel untamed and unfeminine. I had grown my first mustache before any of the boys in my class had grown a single hair on their face. All of that had to go.
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With mom’s help, I started spending every two weeks in the bathroom bleaching the hair on my upper lip and the sides of my face, and lying in her lap while she waxed. the bridge connecting my eyebrows (before anyone could look at it too).
It became routine, and I quickly got used to the tingling sensation of the bleach on my face. Even though the hair was still there (if you looked closely enough), I felt great. But my insecurities pushed me to go further.
I received my first epilator as a Christmas present the following year with the same excitement, if not more, than an 11 year old receiving a Nintendo DS. I was finally able to completely get rid of the coat I had been growing for 11 years. I was so turned on that I endured the pain of pulling out all the stubborn hairs without flinching.
Removing the fuzz from my body gave me a huge sense of confidence. No one compared their thinning little hair to mine. I could wear whatever I wanted without being ashamed of my hair sticking out. Heck, I might even wear sleeveless tops after waxing my armpits.
I followed a strict regimen of bleaching my facial hair and waxing the rest every few weeks so as not to lose that newfound confidence. I couldn’t let the hair grow back. I became obsessed with the feeling of smooth arms and legs, reveling in the freedom of being hairless for nearly two weeks at a time before having to start the whole routine all over again.
I remember going to the Melbourne Show when I was 12 and choosing the She show bag especially those filled with chocolate and lollipops, because it contained a packet of Gillette razors. I was never taught to shave, I’m not sure most 12 year old girls are, but it was quicker and easier.
I swept away the hair that was never meant to be there and watched it disappear into the sewer.
I shaved for the holidays. I shaved for picture day. I shaved for first dates. I shaved for sports matches. I shaved for it on a winter day warm enough that wearing tights to school wasn’t an option. I said goodbye to the hair on my arms, legs, fingers and toes, the hair on my stomach and the fuzz on my shoulders and back. With each hair removal ritual, I reinforced the thought I had had since fourth grade: hair was bad, it was ugly, and getting rid of it was a necessity.
Shaving became a meditative type process, but at the same time it had become addictive.
Two years into my current relationship, I’m finally starting to wonder what it would be like if I gave up my shaving regimen. Call it lazy, say, “You’re getting too comfortable with each other,” but if you ask him (and eventually, I asked), he doesn’t care anyway.
Seeing other women put the razor down helps me redefine my relationship with shaving. Even some of my closest friends are dangling tufts of hair under their arms and fuzzy legs. I’m taking this new hair removal routine one step at a time and I’m still learning to let go of my own fear of body hair.
But i’m slowly learning that the people around me don’t care as much as i was convinced they did – and if they seriously feel the need to comment on a few stray hairs, then i’m dancing with the wrong crowd .
I still shave my upper lip, armpits, and sometimes my arms too, but I said goodbye to shaving my legs this winter, and it feels as good as the first time I bleached my mustache.
Read more about female facial hair here.