STRONG AND SHAVED

STRONG AND SHAVED

It’s on trend and has been for a while, but what is the reaction to these brilliant bitches and their shaved heads our in their day to day lives. REEK finds out…

Jamila

Why did you shave your hair?

To be honest, I’d been wanting to shave my head for almost 5 years. I was always too self conscious to do it, thought my shoulders were too big, my head too small blah blah blah.

My hairs always been something that people commented on. I could almost sit on it. But it’s so much upkeep and I’m a lazy bitch when it comes to grooming on a good day. So it made sense to get a fresh start.

Worst thing anyone’s said to me since shaving it all off?

I don’t think anyone’s said anything nasty to me, they’ve just questioned my sexuality. My mum always said ‘if you’re not planning on sleeping with them then it’s none of their damn business’

Best thing someone’s said about your haircut?

I don’t even think I can choose one comment. I’ve had an unbelievable amount of kind and beautiful words from friends, family, even strangers! It’s mainly been positive and now I’m wishing I had just bitten the bullet and did it sooner.

Titana

Why did you shave your hair?

I am a born-free South African (born 1994)  I was in a society where Afro hair was not considered beautiful , so chemically straightening my hair was the norm, even though I had beautiful Afro hair I disliked the fact that it was so curled and I wanted it straight – straight hair was considered more beautiful just as European features were considered  more beautiful. Afro hair was also looked down upon as untidy in a lot of schools. So my hair was damaged by all the chemicals though it was dead straight. Being a dark-skinned black woman in that society I experienced a lot of prejudice which caused me to be insecure and my self esteem was very low. 2 years ago I saw a lot of black women shaving their heads and letting their natural hair grow. I also saw how it made them feel emotionally. When I decided to shave my head I started to notice who I ,Titana, is and was. I noticed the amount of self love that started to pour in. The fact that I had to face myself and look in the mirror and see all that I am. I can only speak for myself but there is something liberating and powerful in looking at yourself in the mirror with no hair and no make-up. It’s a form of true acceptance. I am truly blessed to have experienced it. I’ve always wanted confidence and now, that’s how I feel!

What’s the worst thing someone has commented about your hair?

Someone pointed out that I don’t look feminine . I had to ask them what femininity was, and challenge them on that.

What’s the best?

Someone said that I look beautiful, strong , and that I’ve gained a beautiful confidence in myself.

How do YOU feel with your hair shaved?

I feel incredible. I feel like I have accepted who I am. I feel liberated , confident and beautiful.

Misha

What inspired you to shave off your hair?

In terms of my hair, up until recently I have found myself doing what was expected of me as a model. I allowed others to dictate and decide what haircut would be best for my career, and I just went with it! This may have been what the clients were after but when it comes down to it, I truly believe that confidence is more attractive than any hair cut, and it’s impossible to be fully comfortable with yourself if you are not being true to yourself. This is why I went for it!

Worst thing anyone’s said to me about my haircut?

There was one taxi driver who GENUINELY thought he was doing me a favour by informing me that every single man he has ever known would agree that long hair is more attractive on women. He then asked me with genuine confusion “Has no-one ever told you this before? Really?” And I was just sitting there, wondering how it became acceptable to tell a woman how you would prefer her to present herself? And how on earth people in this day and age are baffled by why she would dream of prioritising her own interpretation of beauty, over yours? I told him that I do not decide what I do with my appearance based on what others (men/women/humans) find attractive, and I do not let others dictate how I express myself.

Samantha

What made you want to shave it all off?

I’ve felt so empowered since shaving my head. Its allowed me to accept the insecurities that I had before and learn to love myself fully for who I am. I’ve never felt more like my true self, than when I got rid of my locks. I totally think more people should feel comfortable about it and try this look, it brings out the uniqueness in a person’s face and gives you real confidence as you can’t hide behind anything.

Worst thing anyone’s said to me about my haircut?

I’ve had a lot of uncomfortable and horrible comments surrounding my choice of hair. So it’s hard to choose a particular incident. It usually goes one way or the other, either I’m having my sexuality questioned (even my gender on one occasion) or I’m being over sexualised by men, who think its okay to touch my head or take photos without asking. Which once sadly ended up with me being sexual assaulted in a club. I think the stigma surrounding girls with short hair needs to change. Its something which can be completely empowering for a women as it isn’t the social norm. What I think people need to remember is that our femininity and particular our gender, doesn’t lie in a hair cut.

How do you feel since shaving it all off?

I’ve felt so empowered since shaving my head. Its allowed me to accept the insecurities that I had before and learn to love myself fully for who I am. I’ve never felt more like my true self, than when I got rid of my locks.  It’s scary but I recommend everyone to do it!!! Love a buzzcut!!!


THE BEAUTIFUL BODY HAIR DEBATE

THE BEAUTIFUL BODY HAIR DEBATE

We asked Danni, a Body Positive Advocate who runs the Chachi Power Project, to give us her wise words about body hair. Oh my.

#imafeministbut

At a recent all-female networking dinner event in Glasgow, the conversation came around to body hair removal. How pathetically stereotypical of a women-only event you may groan, but wait… it’s not that old cliché. After starting my Body Positive Side Hustle: The Chachi Power Project in 2017 I’ve realised just how much women are dictated to about how they are supposed to ‘be’. What I find most shocking is the form we are ‘supposed’ to take isn’t only a slightly modified body… at times it can be the complete converse. It’s as if we’ve been told to hunker down in a corner and make ourselves busy with unrealistic, impossible tasks so the big boys can play.

Body hair has been a big player in my conversations with fellow females throughout my whole life. Only in the past couple of years did the conversation flip from ‘do you wax or do you shave?’ to ‘why should women need to exist as hairless pre-pubescent lust-filled objects?’ And that’s exactly where that conversation went that night in Glasgow.

Up until a couple of years ago my almost robotic reaction to seeing hairy female legs was ’”ewwww she doesn’t shave her legs”. These days it’s tough not to Hi-5 women with a curl under their arm or scream ‘YES SISTER’ across the street when I see a pair of hairy pins.

I’m still bewildered at my previous reaction. I mean, how fucked up is it that women are controlled and brainwashed to the degree that ripping out our natural vulva hairs isn’t just a thing we do once in a while but it is expected and we’re demonised if we don’t partake.

Internalised Misogyny is incredibly powerful and I’m glad I am slowly but surely unlearning its Women v. Women vibe and escaping its toxic grasp.

There are so many facets that play into why we remove (and are expected to remove) our tache, beard, leg, arm, underarm, vulva, ass, foot, finger, brow, tummy, tit hair… and YES for some women it is ALL of the above… Hours and hours, hair by hair just so we can get through the day without being stared at, laughed at, called names and told to go back to the circus.

Here’s a wonderful essay which discusses where body hair removal started, what caused it, what hair implied about women in different times and how hair was removed from the body in days of old… check out how horrifying it got:

“How to Remove or Lose Hair from Anywhere on the Body

Boil together a solution of one pint of arsenic and eighth of a pint of quicklime. Go to a baths or a hot room and smear medicine over the area to be depilated. When the skin feels hot, wash quickly with hot water so the flesh doesn’t come off.”

Nowadays the abuse, the judgement, the worry, the self-criticism often remain too much to bear. So we still epilate, shave, wax, pluck, pull, depilate and laser. It seems a painful and expensive price to pay.

I’m not pretending I’m not one of those people. Sometimes fighting the fight is more tiresome than removing the hair.

Whilst being a Body Positive advocate sometimes makes me angry, most of the time I’m taking part in heartfelt conversations, showing compassion and understanding and finding the humour in ridiculous, unreachable standards.

Last year I took part in a magnificent hashtag on Instagram: #botanicalbodyhair

It was started by @sarah_louise_ferg and @unfounddoor. Two women who, from what I can tell after following their online lives, live in a world of poetry, nature, sunsets, humour and creativity.

With this hashtag they made something beautiful out of an important topic which encouraged vulnerability, shone light on something which women find shameful, while poking fun at impossible beauty standards.

They started the hashtag by replacing the hair they removed from their body with beautiful botanicals and took artistic photographs of the results. Slowly but surely other’s followed suit and an excellent hashtag was born.

Alongside this article are my contributions… beautifully styled and photographed by my sister Lisa. You can check out the hashtag and it’s 263 beautiful inspired posts here. Sarah Louise Ferg’s blog regarding her reasons for starting it and some of her favourite posts here.

As humorous and light hearted as the hashtag may seem I think it was a beautiful and important piece of feminist and body political activism created in a gentle and accessible way.

The conversations it started were enlightening, empowering and sometimes frustrating – the best type of conversations. We don’t all have to agree but let’s open the floor for different voices and opportunities to learn from and challenge others.

Perhaps the fact that all the images created were visually stunning and typically beautiful but with an important underlying message made it easier for people to enter the conversation who may otherwise have stayed quiet. Who knows?

I just know it was a fun way to spend a Sunday with my sister. We nearly wet ourselves laughing at the ridiculousness of figuring out how to attach purple fronds to my upper lip… in the end we just shoved them up my nose.

Because I believe in our right to bodily integrity I respect everyone’s right to do with their body as they see fit.

So, I say, do what you like when it comes to your body hair. Grow it or take it all away- it’s your body- do what feels right to you.

If you are going to remove your hair then great but let me ask you this: you may think it is nicer/ cleaner/ sexier/ preferable but… if everyone else in the world didn’t remove their body hair… would you still do it?

Sometimes it’s a good idea to question our motives. To dig deep and ask interesting questions about our choices. Sometimes the answers are uncomfortable. That’s ok. Asking the question is the important bit.

To broaden your idea of what a normal female body is, why not follow bearded model and body political activist Harnaam Kaur (her Instagram is great but if you wanna get a real taste of her wit and vibe then head over to her Twitter). Also learn from Dana from @dothehotpants as she traverses round NYC with her gloriously hairy pins and figures out her thoughts about the male gaze and socially acceptable bodies.

Perhaps invest in a cute pin from the @yourwelcomeclub and show off how you celebrate body hair.

And one last suggestion: No more commenting on other people’s body hair, no more commenting on other people’s bodies full stop, unless you want to exclaim how beautiful the being in front of you is.

Danni holds talks, workshops, events and retreats which encourage people to be part of the Body Positive Movement and figures out ways we can all have better body confidence.

Website:           https://www.chachipowerproject.co.uk/

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