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A Girl's Body Is an Unopened Box

Challenging the Discourse Between Brown Women and Body Hair

Waste - Jorge Zapata via Upsplash

It’s 2006.

I am in the early stages of adolescence and my body is foreign. I have hair everywhere; I am spotty and breaking out.

I hate everything.

Alex, whose name has been changed due to my lack of memory, rather than an attempt to protect his identity, calls me a gorilla.

“Why do you have hair on your knuckles?!” he screams.

“I can tell you wax your eyebrows.”

Shame washes over me as I quickly pull down the sleeves of my shirt to hide the ugliness of my hands. I get home from school and my beautiful, hairless mother is cleaning the floors.

She was always cleaning.

I am plagued with jealousy, anger, regret. I wonder where my hair came from and why she doesn’t struggle with it, too.

I am 11, frustrated, ugly.

The conversations we have about body hair in relation to white bodies are different than the conversations we have about ours; white radical feminists dye their armpit hair out of rebellion to the Patriarchy, the Glass Ceiling, the “Man”, and white women bask in this refusal to conform because this refusal was given to them, it is allowed. Conformity to pure, wholesome, hairless perfection is an accessible conversation for white girls to have because white women before them have allowed them to have the conversation.

Do white girls with peach fuzz get asked by the wax technician if she’d like, “lip, too?”

Do white girls with peach fuzz get their foreheads waxed when their eyebrows are done?

Do white girls get called gorilla?

It’s 2011.

I’m a high school junior, I have a boyfriend and everything is new. I shave five times a week, I clog the tub multiple times and tell my mom that it’s just from the hair on my head.

I have my own bathroom.

My boyfriend doesn’t know about this ritual, he never asks me about my body hair nor does he look at my arms too long. I am 16 and the most insecure I’ve ever been about this invasive hair disorder: an illness I’ve created to try and understand why I have this condition.

We are laying in his bed at his mom’s house,

I look at him and ask,

“Does it bother you that I’m a hairy girl?”

“I’ve always known. I don’t mind," he answers.

I hate everything.

I asked a teenage boy a question that I wasn’t prepared to hear an answer to, yet I asked him because I had no one else to ask. The topic was, is, taboo, and the only other women I knew that had visible body hair were those in my family, 

and one Italian girl from school. 

I couldn’t bring myself to admit that I noticed they had it, too, because then I’d be admitting to realizing that I had it,

the condition.

There is a discourse between women with peach fuzz and women that have body hair. Our experiences are completely factored out by whether our lower back is exposed when we bend down, 

or if we can wear a two-piece bathing suit because hair grows on our stomachs, too,

or if the myth that our mustache would grow back thicker if we wax it is actual fact.

Do white girls wear large t-shirts to cover their dark stomachs?

Do white girls with peach fuzz ask their boyfriends if he’s bothered by their hairiness?

Are brown and black women allowed to talk about this yet?

It’s 2016.

I begin a new job and stop eating.

I lose 25 pounds and fall into the background of everything else, 

no one can see my hair now.

My high school boyfriend is dating someone else,

I came out,

I’m dating a trans man.

I read blogs online about women refusing to shave their legs, I give it a try, it lasts two days.

The birth of my self love is beating underneath my skin, brewing, almost ready. I am the prettiest I’ve ever been, the skinniest, the softest and the most awake. I am confused by this revolution and I wonder if I’ll ever actually quit shaving my legs.

I don’t.

The transman and I break up, I start sleeping with someone else, they tell me I should consider shaving my lower back.

“Make sure you get it all”.

We’re in the shower together and I wrap my arms around myself, say a silent prayer and vow to never be in this space again, this place. Suddenly, it’s 2011 again and I am overcome by shame. I pull the towel around my body, try to cover my hair,

I start eating again.

I drop this person entirely, I work 66 hours in one week, sleep in until three PM and try “Nair” for the first time.

My body is an unopened box, stuffed with the clogged remains of my shame, stripped down to the bones, where the hair can’t get in.

Do white girls with peach fuzz shave their knuckles?

Do white girls with peach fuzz hear me?

Does anyone hear me?

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