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“Having hair there is unhygienic”, and other myths about body hair

Updated: Jun 3, 2021

Body hair is a stigma that a lot of South Asian girls and women have had to live with. A lot of us have thick, dark hair and were routinely made fun of for having monobrows and hairy arms as children, and labelled unattractive or dirty as adults - I know I was and am.


I’ve felt self-conscious of my body hair for as long as I can remember. I would sweat under jumpers and furiously shave my legs in the summer in a cycle of self-hate that lasted until my twenties. But part of my self-love journey has been centered on accepting my body the way it is naturally, including the hair that grows on it.


Part of that work is in breaking down the attitudes we have towards ourselves as brown women and understanding that they come from colonialism and the patriarchy - not from logic or fact. When we question and dismantle the things we’ve been taught to think about ourselves, we can change the narrative and take our power back.


So let’s break down some myths about body hair.


Myth 1: Having underarm or pubic hair is unhygienic


Like every part of our bodies, hair plays a role in keeping us healthy and safe. Our eyebrows and eyelashes protect our eyes from dirt and bacteria, our pubic hair protects our genitals from bacteria and infections that can enter the body, our underarm hair reduces friction and absorbs sweat. And like any other part of our bodies, it’s only unhygienic if you don’t clean it.





Myth 2: No one will want you if you’re hairy


Any self-respecting, intelligent adult should be able to see past superficial things like appearance and want to be with you because of who you are. There are millions of women out there in perfectly happy relationships who have body hair - trust me because I’m one of them. Remember that it’s a scare tactic to make us comply with unattainable beauty standards.


Myth 3: Women aren’t supposed to be hairy


The only reason we’re taught that we’re not ‘meant’ to be hairy is to uphold patriarchal beauty standards and appear more attractive to men. If hair grows naturally on our bodies, how can it be that it’s “not supposed to grow there”? It doesn’t make sense.





Myth 4: Only activists and man-haters grow their hair out


Part of the stigma surrounding body hair is that the women who do choose to grow it out are either activists or man-haters (or both). This keeps the conversation rooted in patriarchy and centers men. But shaving or not shaving isn’t really about the hair itself, it’s about what it represents. And that is choice and autonomy for women, something society doesn’t think we’re deserving of.


To my fellow hairy women reading this: remember that your body hair is NORMAL and NATURAL, and it is your choice what you choose to do with it.



Henna Amin is a British-Punjabi/Gujurati activist creative and writer. Her work aims at taking up space, speaking her truth and repping south asian women. You can follow her on instagram at:


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Oh and some people, like the Chinese have far less body hair, to the point that some men and women barely grow leg hair or beards, because of a thing called evolution. Their climate made it redundant


Other parts of the human body that have been removed thanks to evolution are our tails, during pregnancy, an embryo will create a tail for a brief moment, but it is removed naturally as it matures into a full baby, because we don't need tails anymore. Very rarely, a baby is born with a tail

The human body is full of parts it doesn't need and evolution has or is in the process of removing (wisdom teeth anyone?) But you're the "self-respecting intelligent…

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Body hair is shaved by both men and women because humans now wear clothing, hence why "it's not suppose to be there". It's only in recent times that clothing has been restrictive in a sense, a couple of thousand years ago, people wore togas and other free-flowing types of clothing.


Hair traps sweat and germs, which is fine if you a naked person being sanitized in the sun everyday, by most humans don't, we wear clothing. The denser hair becomes, the dirtier it is, this is why mens beards are among the dirtiest things on a body, and thus banned in hospital and hospitality workers for sanitation reasons.


Then there are insects like lice which are a huge problem in…


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SigLorWil
SigLorWil
Mar 09, 2022
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Many people in my life perpetuated ideas that women should shave there armpits and vaginas 100% and that hair in those places is “gross” or “unhygienic.” And they say things like “no man is gonna want a hairy woman” to try and convince me to shave. This article is for those people specifically. Not every other person who has non beauty reasons to shave. Just trying to normalize armpit and pubic hair as a beauty standard vs hairlessness. Hope this is an understandable point of view lol

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Slimy Turtle
Slimy Turtle
Apr 17, 2021

Hi! I came here seeking answers for what body hait is really about and if these myths are true. I'm not of south asian descent, but rather Italian and African. I am white but i still have some of the characteristics of my ancestors. I have dark brown wavy-curly hair and so my body hair is pretty visible. It's not as dark as your hair, but it still carries the same effects when it comes to bullies. Anyway, I wanted to thank you for what you do. My family has always ridiculed me and pointed out my body hair, and even if they didn't mean to harm me, it still hurt. Recently I have stopped shaving my underarms because they…


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