In nearly 100-degree weather, I opted to wear dark wash skinny jeans. It brought me straight back to those cringe-worthy days in the PE locker room when I had to put my tight pants back on despite being caressed by sweat. I almost vowed to myself that I would never again subject myself to the constriction of such an unwelcoming fabric as denim no matter how aesthetically appealing the look of finely elongated legs may be.
If I were not a slave to social norms of the type more significantly imposed on my gender, I would never wear anything but shorts and harem pants. At the same time, some days I show my finger to society’s beauty standards and wear short-shorts despite missing days of shaving.
But this day was different. My guy friend’s half-joking comment about how I have more body hair than him, although I had gone just a couple days without shaving, was ringing in my head. Defeated, I pulled off my floral shorts and said hello to the very pants I wore daily in middle school in desperate attempts to fit in.
Having both Italian and Indian genes means a complete loss in the smooth-skinned, hair-free lottery. I have dark hairs that stand out against my medium to fair skin-tone on even the hard-to-reach crevices on my back and inner thigh.
Since I can’t stand pain, I rarely wax my skin. My only option then is to pass blades over my skin even in my most sensitive, intimate regions for the sake of hushing comments like those my friend made. To motivate myself to put in the extra half hour plus weekly — time that could have been spent getting a coffee or reading a nice article — I think about the time I went out to the beach in the bikini I felt self-loving enough to buy but immediately wilted into regret and self-loathing over when confronted with the reality of my happy trail and lower back hair.
I found that my self-consciousness of the kind I had not felt since middle school and early high school, which I thought my maturity had silenced like T. Swift does her haters, suddenly resurfaced.
Is this a first world problem? Am I yet another whiny Millennial? In the face of the fight for privileges that my female forebears fought tooth and nail for me to enjoy, some may say “yes.” In fact, I am guilty, too, of perpetuating these expectations on my gender. I still get taken aback and feel uneasy when I see a woman with unshaved armpits and I will admit that I prefer the hairless female aesthetic to the alternative even though it would make my life happier and easier. So yes, I am in many ways hypocritical.
For my looks to be up-to-par with the ideals of my peers and society, I would have to take a step further in my hair removal endeavors. I have considered investing in Veet cream and undergoing laser hair removal even though both literally destroy hair follicles and can cause severe skin burning. The possible effects of either are not to be taken lightly. Leaving Veet cream too long can cause third-degree burns, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that burning off your skin through radiation cannot possibly be good for you.
Sure, this is a Millennial problem, but promoting literal self-harm for such superficial and fleeting reasons surely is not empowering women or giving them a leg-up either.
Contact Angelica Zocchi at [email protected].