The Beauty within the Beast

February 06, 2021

 

 

Throughout my life, I have enjoyed the metabolism that most folk can only dream off. With each day bringing forth new opportunity for choice pickings of delectable ‘Junk’, my daily fancies of cakes, chips and pies often succumbed to the playful envy of others. But however many laughs in admiration, and praise that I received for my slim figured frame, I never thought of myself as ‘lucky’, as those folk suggested. Like most other young woman, I too were deeply unhappy, hiding my misery of body dissatisfaction in other ways, and the suffering I carried was the unbearable shame of body hair.

It started at some point between my childhood and early teens. The transgression of life from the idylls of natural care-free expression had turned into feelings of a new-found awkwardness. This marked a tragic turning point, that heralded a modern day ‘coming of age’. I had washed up onto the shores of criticism and judgement, joining the world in the search for happiness in perfection and the message that rung loud and clear was that there was nothing more imperfect than myself.

The new world seemed fearful and hostile towards difference. Here I felt starkly exposed to the thoughts and opinions of others and what these thoughts and opinions might be of me! So, I eagerly joined the crowd, wanting nothing more than to blend in and be accepted. Luckily, help was at hand and the main stream media kindly displayed a variety of advertising techniques to help guide and support me along the way. In them I saw perfect girls beaming with ‘joy’, and of course these were the beautiful girls who I so desperately wanted to be. Then one day, an understanding began to arise. Somewhere, from deep within a sea of accumulated sensory influences. ‘As a woman, your body hair is unfeminine and unattractive, and here are the ways you may rid yourself of your hairy affliction’! I was struck by horror. What then was young and impressionable girl to do? Everything possible, to avoid the fear of ridicule and disgust. So I borrowed my dad’s razor and set to work.

Now, my hair being quite thick and black also grew incredibly fast. This was nothing short of pleasing when dealing with a haircut gone wrong, but on the other hand this would turn hair removal into a continuous and arduous process. The reality of shaving wasn’t the promise of smooth hairless skin that I’d seen on the telly, but having to put up with days of prickly uncomfortable stubble and irritating skin rashes. As I grew older, societies pressures only strengthened my insecurities until I eventually developed a difficult emotional complex. Shame had turned intimacy into my greatest fear and rather than face revealing the extent of my body hair to anyone, I denied myself the relationships that I longed for. I lived with this anxiety for over a decade, always looking to release this pain in the next breakthrough product, but as my hair held fast, my hopes slowly faded.

This was the painful struggle. The pursuit to grasp at an unattainable dream had only caused my desires to intensify and the longer it went on, the more frustration and unhappiness I turned in on myself. But one day, I did find an end to my suffering. Not on the shelf of the beauty isle I had spent decades in searching. But I stumbled upon it, in a place I was never told to look.

Some years ago, I became interested in a philosophy I had heard in many great literatures. This was about the cultivation of a love so great it would stretch far beyond the relationship between two people, a universal love so powerful as to encompass everything and everyone. I was touched by these teachings and became inspired to try and find this ‘unity’ for myself. Perhaps it seemed like a tall order, but I thought it was worthwhile, even if I made only a few steps towards this goal, I knew it would still be of great benefit to me and those around me. During my quest, I came across an idea of acceptance which said, ‘to accept others for who they are we must first learn to accept ourselves for who we are’. I felt drawn to this. On hearing this message, so simple and yet so profound, I began to recognised the intense criticisms that I had held towards my own self over the years. In a culmination of remorse, relief and in my goal to experience the oneness of love, I made a decision and this was to try and accept a part of me that had repulsed me and caused much hurt during my life. For this quest, I decided to stop shaving and put every effort into the acceptance of my body for exactly the way it is.

It’s been over 4 years and my legs, my arms and pretty much all other hairs to this day have remained in tact. Luckily my beliefs have held fast and I have never looked back. However embracing my body hair has not always an easy journey. The strength of my decision was a spiritual one and one that I have continued to believe in. I have used the simple method of cultivating thanks and gratitude to help transform my thinking from the habitual patterns of disappointment or annoyance to positivity. By ‘changing my mind’, I have learnt to truly appreciate my body for all that it endlessly gives and now the struggle is over. By contemplating the beauty and magnificence of the body’s workings, my mind has rested in a state of more harmony and happiness then I ever thought possible.

In my journey with acceptance, I have questioned and scrutinised the ‘why’ behind our prevalent culture of shaved skin. Why has body hair, something so natural has become so vilified, while beauty images photo-shopped to perfection are now the new norm. A lot of my confidence has arisen in the reflection of this point. By failing to find any common sense in branding body hair as wrong or the failure to find any logic behind it, then the fear of judgement has lost its power and I am no longer afraid of an opinion that doesn’t hold any truth. 

 

I have tried to capture an essence of the mental and emotional suffering that body shame created in my life for over a decade and what it took to be able to break free from these damaging views. Sadly, the obsession of hair removal has become a global affliction, one which has spread to all corners of the world where the beauty industry and media serve to exist. By actively creating the insecurities upon which it profits and thrives, this multi-billion-dollar business has crept into the private lives of us all, serving nothing but to create a continuing disservice to womankind. I am waging a war on the beauty industry, to end the untold damage and to restore the true beauty, the beauty of heart, mind and soul that lives within us all.

Originally published in the Elephant Journal www.elephantjournal.com/2019/04/the-journey-to-beautiful/.

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