I’m a brown girl. I’m a hairy brown girl. My unibrow is as strong as steel, my peach fuzzed lip is relentless, and my arms are coated with a soft layer of hair. And I am proud of it.
It’s practically a brown girl’s rite of passage to undergo traumatic bullying as a result of the way they look. In retrospect, I blame my experiences with bullying to pure ignorance. Other children didn’t grow up with an image of girls like me. There’s no hairy brown Disney princess, there’s no distinct unibrowed celebrities, etc. It was only natural that kids teased me– they simply had no idea that I was completely normal. They had no clue that femininity was not synonymous with being hairless and pale. As I’ve grown, I’ve found solace in seeking out media that represents me. It’s few and far between, but whenever its there, I cling to it like a lifejacket. Slowly, but surely, I’m letting to with the notion that my body hair is disgusting.
I didn’t do anything with my hair until I was 13 years old. Essentially, I dealt with fierce bullying that only mildly dissipated when I hit the eighth grade. The girls would snicker from behind my back, but the boys were much more forthcoming with exactly what they thought of me. As you can probably imagine, being told by boys that I’m the most hideous thing on the planet did wonders for my self-esteem. For some reason, children have this idea that one’s beauty determines their worth. I’d imagine that if society and parents taught their kids that beauty isn’t everything, I would have had a happier childhood experience. But I digress.
For the past three years, I have relentlessly plucked and waxed my unibrow and upper lip. And it took a lot of discipline to stick to a schedule. I put myself through constant pain and anxiety to maintain decently trimmed brows and a spotless upper lip.
Something changed this year. I think it’s because school got really hard and important, and I simply let go of my beauty schedule. Before I knew it, my unibrow and lip hair was back. I don’t know what came over me, but I decided to try to go as long as possible without plucking or waxing. I lasted 4 months. My unibrow was completely back and fiercer than ever. It wasn’t easy. I had to ask my mom to hide my tweezers from me. I hated looking in the mirror, but pure stubbornness refused to let me out of my own dare. I felt so ugly for a few months, and then one day, I grew tired of the self-pity.
“Why do I hate my natural face?” I asked myself. I couldn’t answer it. The devout feminist in me reminded me that I had a duty to my younger self to reclaim beauty and confidence after it had been stolen from me for many years.
“Your unibrow is your heritage,” I told myself. After a while, my face stopped bothering me. I carried on gracefully with my life. And it felt as though a huge weight had been taken off my shoulders. Forcing myself to deal with once hurt me more than anything in the world made me invincible. I found a friend in my face and a home in my body.
And with this experience in mind, I’m ready to live uninhibited by my insecurities. Facing my fears granted me my autonomy, and I am endlessly happy and proud.
Photo: Soroush Karimi via Unsplash