Every Hairy Latina Can Relate To These 7 Stages Of Grief
Okay, so I wish this body positivity movement happened when I was 10 years old and was the first person (girls and boys) to start growing leg hair in the 3rd grade. I was one of the only Latinas in my religious school and girls were forced to wear skorts. We all remember el horror when your little body started getting hairy.
I present to you my story told by the collective consciousness of Latinas on the internet because there is nothing wrong with being a #HairyLatina.
Hey everyone, this is me today.
I’m half Puerto Rican and half Palestinian, which makes me an especially hairy human. Growing up, it was something I was always bullied for. It didn’t help that I was also the tallest person (boys and girls) in my grade (hint: Sasquatch is what the bullies called me).
Hair is something I have probably spent weeks of my life trying to hide (read: Nair, shaving, laser hair removal, waxing, threading, etc.) and years obsessing over. In South Florida, wearing long sleeves to cover your hairy arms just caused it’s own embarrassing, sweaty problems.
One thing we know for sure is that being native Latinx means we are hairy people.
If you grew up somewhere without a strong Latino presence, like I did when my family moved from Miami to Boca Raton (culture shock, af), you might not have known that it was a Latino thing. I know I felt like a total outcast.
For some reason, my retired model of a Puerto Rican mother does not grow hair on her body. In the midst of my hair obsession, I asked my mom when the last time she shaved her legs were. Her response: “Hmm, no sé, maybe 3 or 4 months ago.” Like I was literally the hairiest person in my own little family.
But once I found out that my “hairiness” connected me to my people, I started to feel proud.
Who says we’re the ones who are hairy and that other people aren’t just bald? The reason we’re hairy is because American beauty standards center around white, thin, hairless, blonde beauty.
My mom is just an enigma. I’m not jealous at all. I mean, I was seething as a young adult, but being hairy has given me an opportunity to love myself and my body without permission from both white and Latino culture. We probably support the entire hair removal industry.
The truth is, I was never alone in the world of hair.
It’s our beauty mark, and while it’s not something that my mother always told me to be proud of, it’s something I will tell my kids. For the first few years of the bullying, I resented that my mom would try to comfort me but couldn’t relate at all. Her solution was the same as mine: get rid of the evidence.
By the time I was 15, I was getting my upper lip and bikini line laser hair removed. This was laser hair removal over ten years ago so it hurt like a mother.
And it didn’t help that mámi didn’t let you shave.
Meanwhile, my own mother is somehow the same bald Puerto Rican beauty queen model she’s been since she was my age. Oh, and she weighed 20 pounds less and her nickname was Double D’s. You know…whatever.
Still, mi mamí was against shaving until I was at least 13 years old. It’s like Nair was the safety scissors of Latina grooming. As a good, stereotypical, vegan, composting, liberal lesbian, now I’m horrified that I intentionally smeared chemicals onto my skin that are so intense, they burn hair off. (!!!)
If you have brothers, you definitely had live-in bullies.
My little brother was the worst. He sucked A$$. Gio, if you’re reading this now, this is your public retribution. My little, sweet brother was straight up always asking me if I was turning into a man what “y’know, because you’re growing a mustache to match your hairy arms.” Sometimes they were gorilla arms, but most of the time, I was Sasquatch at school and at home.
My dad and other brother would laugh and my mom would try so hard not to laugh, but it was pretty obvious. I’m traumatized.
And you f*cking hated it when your white friends would tell you they have the same amount of hair as you.
“Pero like, your hair is literally invisible and glitters in the sun and my hair is as dark as outer space.” There is no comparison or reliability there at all. Nobody picks on the blonde girl for her arm hair. That’s fake news.
By the time I was 15, I had brunette friends that were bleaching their own arm hair every month. Since my mom wouldn’t let me do that, I was wearing long sleeves… to cross country practice… in August in SoFla.
To be clear, if you shave your arms and body hair, I have no judgement or problem with you.
I say, do whatever makes you feel good in your body. For a time, I shaved from the bottoms of my eyebrows down to the floor, but, for me, it wasn’t worth it. I have friends who do that and feel like a glamorous queen and I love it.
Whenever my happy trail or arm hair or even back hair (I was being so extra), started to grow in all prickly, I would actively hate myself and my body. That’s just my experience.
Obsessing over my body hair made it harder for me to love myself.
I would come up for air and have a moment of, “F*ck the patriarchy, I love myself and my big hips, and hairy ass body,” and then someone would call me Sasquatch. ???? Now it seems so below my radar, but during puberty, that would strike me deep.
We all feel awkward enough in our bodies, can we please stop commenting on each others?
In a way, learning to become resilient about people’s commentary on my body, forced me to give myself a degree of separation from what they say and how I feel about myself.
Maybe it’s maturity, or maybe it’s the #BoPo movement, but today, I see beauty in body hair.
More than that, I see beauty in learning to unlearn the self-oppressive messages I saw through the ’90s and ’00s. I need to know if Jennifer Lopez is the same breed of Puerto Rican beauty queen as my mom and is naturally hairless.
We grew up with the few models of Latina beauty as totally hairless. Thankfully, full eyebrows and full hips are mainstream and we’re living our best lives up here. I’m also getting to see some of my own fearless friends get less serious and more playful around body hair.
The truth is that Latina body hair has superpowers like no other. This is Harry Potter sh*t.
I used to have a schedule: shave my legs every other day; armpits, upper lip and toes everyday; arms and happy trail once a week. Like that was ever enough. I was like a walking cactus, all prickly and conscious about someone touching me and noticing.
Thank DIOS for Twitter because never before have I felt so validated by the Internet. I hope my experience helps validate your own. You’re not a weirdo or an outcast for having body hair. You’re a badass Latina.
But that eyebrow arch is a universally accepted perk.
I *think* I have a unibrow, but I haven’t seen my natural brows since I was like 13 years old and let my best friend basically tweeze me into Cruella de Vil. My mom was *horrified* that my eyebrows were basically gone. In that moment, she told me that “my eyebrows frame the soul.” Y’know, since eyes are windows to the soul.
We’ve always been proud of our eyebrows from the moment we learned we could tweeze away the strays. We’ve got shape, baby.
And I get it–my blonde hippie friends have pressured me in the past to stop shaving and I hated it.
Your natural blonde hair may make you look like an admirable, carefree goddess and be applauded in our society, but I resent any light hair Becky telling me how to experience my body.
I don’t resent Becky for going natural—I totally celebrate you and love that you think your little blonde armpit hair is cute. I resent Becky for pressuring me into living more “care-free.” It definitely takes a lot more confidence and my own lesson of self-love to walk around in the world with proud, thick black Latina leg and arm hair than it does for Becky to go natural.
But every single summer, me and my cousin would compete to see who could grow the longest leg hair.
It’s too embarrassing for me to make up, I swear. So why was it actually all fun and games between us girls and a total nightmare when we left our little family bubble? Why is the outside world teaching young boys that it’s okay to police their classmates on their body hair? I’m finally getting it now and I’m enraged.
What would it have been like for me to see a hot, cool, hairy woman out in the world walking around with confidence?
If you’re reading this and in high school, plz @ us and tell us it’s better now.
I see your generation dying your armpit hair hot pink and teal and lavender and I am both extremely proud and severely jealous. I have two lil chia pets under my arms that I could have made *art* with in high school. I mean, I guess I still can, but age (and those hours of grooming I was talking about) has made me lazy.
Here I am praying we live in a world where Latina women everywhere stop cursing their ancestors, cause before you know it, that’ll be me you’re cursing, guapa.
So, with all the reasons to shave installed in us since birth, I leave you with my own personal reasons not to shave.
What could you be doing with those 40 minutes? That’s 40 more minutes you can spend studying, or reading a book by Latina authors, or playing an instrument, or making art out of your armpit hair, or whatever it is that every other white girl and every single boy in America gets to have. You get to give permission to other women to stop shaving and stop buying into the hair removal industry.
Also, you get to save made water if you’re a person who cares about the environment.
Thirty days ago, I embarked on my own social experiment and stopped shaving.
Full disclosure: I’ve already entrapped my girlfriend into living together, so she can’t leave me (jk, jk, jk) and I’m not trying to woo anyone. But really, being truly loved by someone has felt really good, and in some ways has given me permission to love myself in a more radical way.
It wasn’t a big decision or anything I gave much thought to. I just decided I wanted to challenge myself to make ultimate peace with my body hair and feel sexy and good in my natural body.
More disclosure: I’ve spent money and time on laser hair, so I’m not in my most natural state, and I regret it.
I pray that nobody from Costco reads this, but I 100 percent used an at home body hair removal system where I shaved my entire body every 3 weeks and spent 2 hours laser hair removing it. It was boring AF, and I’m just as hairy but with a couple of random bald spots on my legs. Now that my armpit hair is all grown out, I can see that it was all a waste of time…but not money.
I returned the machine just before it’s 12 month return policy came up. ???? Patriarchy makes you stupid sometimes.
But I do feel more liberated than ever.
It feels good to stop subscribing to other people’s beauty standards and start living in my own. My natural body is my standard of beauty, no matter what it looks like. This is just one, very easy part of my healing from body dysmorphia and disordered eating. Loving all of my body.
While life is a whole lot more bearable outside of school, I still get some long stares at my pits by older white ladies out and about. At first, I felt a little uncomfortable with the attention, but then I felt proud to know that there might be someone younger in the same room who feels like they can take up more space.
Plus, poco a poco, we’re seeing Latinas truly represented in TV, like in One Day at a Time.
Also, now we know that it’s a myth that shaving makes your hair grow back thick. Throw away the Nair my friends. Shaving is SAFER. If you want to join me, you can also toss your razor and just see how it goes. When it comes to our bodies, we’ve all probably seen our own moms take a pinch of fat, diets, or a wrinkle way too seriously.
I know my own tias would be talking mad sh*t about me if they knew I wen’t #shavefree. But I saw my leg hair measuring cousin, Cecily, take that step and felt permission to do it for myself. You don’t need permission from anyone to live how you want to live–whether that’s hairless or hairy.
This is just my story, but maybe you can relate. No matter what, my message is to love yourself.
If you feel like a liberated goddess with baby soft, hairless skin, do you boo. I applaud you as my Latina sister in this life. I know how much time, money, and effort it takes and I respect how women decide to take care of themselves in this world.
If you’re like me and felt like body hair removal was more oppressive than liberating, I encourage you to take the 30 day challenge. It has been a healing experience for me and I don’t feel the same pressure I used to feel to prioritize a 40-minute shave over getting a project done or doing some self-care. I probably will shave again at some point in my life, but it feels pretty great to let go of the pressure. ❤️
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