In a piece for the Huffington Post, a woman of South Asian descent laments the fact that she can’t stop shaving her armpits because she’s “brown” and therefore not shaving would make her “feel unsafe.”
“I even began shaving my legs at the height of the post-puberty shame-fest that was 7th grade,” writes Nadya Agrawal in a heart-wrenching piece titled “I Don’t Shave Because I’m a Woman. I Shave Because I’m Brown.”
“Sitting in P.E., my scrawny legs sticking out of my over-large basketball shorts in all their awkward glory, I noticed once again that I didn’t look like other girls,” she continues. “Where they had gentle blond fuzz that floated imperceptibly over their pale skin, my new growth was dark and obvious.”
According to Agrawal, although “humans of the porcelain-skinned variety” like Madonna and Miley Cyrus have the option of not shaving their armpits, she cannot join their furry-feminist fuzz fest because of her race.
“So while they reject the status quo, they’re going somewhere I can’t follow,” she explains.
She “can’t follow,” she explains, because her “grooming habits are not a simple style choice or preference,” but rather dictated by the “out-and-out racism” of our society that has only gotten worse since 9/11:
#share#“My brown brothers have the same problem,” she writes. “In our post-9/11 America, racial profiling and hate crimes have driven many South Asian and Middle Eastern men to shave off their beards and cut their hair out of fear.”
She points out that this racism also means “Muslim and Sikh men” simply cannot risk participating in the “man buns and beards” trend — which she calls “the paradigm of modern male fashion for non-brown men” — “without endangering themselves.”
#related#“If I have to sacrifice a lofty feminist ideal to feel more comfortable, I’m going to do it,” she writes. “It’s not a perfect solution, and I hope one day I won’t feel unsafe just because my body hair is visible. But until then, I’m going to keep tweezing, plucking, and waxing my way to acceptance.”
Now, when exactly armpit hair started being considered a “lofty feminist ideal,” I do not know. In any case, for what it’s worth, I shave all the time — and really do feel like it’s not all that bad. Certainly not as bad as oh, I don’t know, having to talk to a dude with a man bun.
— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online.