Hairy Tales: Society Isn’t the Boss of Me (My Parlour Lady Is)

I was always the girl who could say #LongHairDontCare, but inside I felt like a #BabyBearNeedsSkinCare.

4 min read
Hindi Female

I am an average Indian, medium-brown (or matrimonially-correct wheatish) complexioned girl. I have hair as thick as Hermione Granger’s on my head and my body, aka the bane of my existence.

My earliest memory of visiting a beauty salon is the one of me bawling my eyes out as the hairdresser would chop my locks off. My parents would look at me joyfully as they could finally see my face until now hidden under my thick curly hair. Maybe they envisioned me as a miniature Ramdev, only less bendy. I liked to think of myself as a young Frida Kahlo, only less talented.

I never really got comfortable with cutting my hair off because it was the only hair on my body that I could proudly display, without having to apologise for looking like a bear. 

When I would go swimming as a child, there used to be this one man with so much hair on his body that he would shampoo his back and chest, as my cousin would tell me. On most days growing up, I felt that I looked like that man. Ridiculous as it may sound, the conditioning that society gave me (pun intended) only made my belief more resolute.

Anyway, eventually I got used to the routine parlour visits. My next memory of visiting a beauty salon involves the auntyjis there asking when I would start getting my arms and legs waxed. I was 11 when that began.

At 11, it got ingrained in me that I had to be hairless, because being a hairy girl was disgusting. At 11, I learned that a woman with a hairy body should feel as ashamed as a man without hair on his head.

Frequent parlour visits later, once I did start getting waxed at 13, auntyjis then started quizzing me about when I would start to get my eyebrows threaded and my upper lip waxed. In hindsight, they launched a surgical strike on my body hair, taking down one follicle at a time. And, the beauty parlour’s capitalist agenda is where most of my insecurities were rooted growing up.

Horrifying scars started appearing on my legs, like the burnt bits on rotis, from pulling all the hair I had.

Auntyjis would say, “Arrey, kitne hard baal hai tumhaarey, jaise ladkon ke hotey hain,” and giggle. “Chocolate wax use karo, sab theek ho jayega,” they would tell me, as I would try to soothe my sore skin with cold water, Lacto Calamine and tears.

Even MORE parlour visits later, when I would get my upper lip and eyebrows threaded at 15, auntyjis again questioned when I would start getting my bikini area “cleaned”. “Tumhaari umar ki saari ladkiyan ab poori safai kara ke jaati hain”, they would tell me as they plucked out every hair from my body that was below my eyebrows.

I would sheepishly say “dekhti hoon aunty”, as I would choke over the powder I snorted that was haphazardly dusted over my lips.
fire gif waxing reactions

I have always envied my friends who could wear anything without sleeves or the shortest dresses, without having to worry about their next waxing appointment. If I had to go anywhere which needed showing my arms, legs or stomach, I needed a one-week notice.

Two days involved denial of the fact that I was hairy, then one day to assess if I was really hairy or if the event was important enough to wax for. Then, one day to get waxed and then three days of lotioning and apologising to my poor, hurt skin, while making myself false promises that “never again will I do this”.

I was always the girl who could say #LongHairDontCare, but inside I felt like a #BabyBearNeedsSkinCare.

I scroll through photos of models, actors and my friends obsessively on Instagram and all I think is, “I wonder if they get waxed or if they’re actually hairless”.

What sounds like a trivial, first-world, non-problem to most is an actual, all-consuming anxiety. 

I can’t wear the clothes I find comfortable or like because I’m worried getting jeered at by people I will never meet again, who would think to themselves “yuck, she’s so hairy”.

And yes, I am aware of the narcissistic nature of my statement assuming that people will bother thinking about my hairy legs when they’re narcissistically thinking about themselves. But that’s the thing about people, they will put their energies into thinking negatively about others, in attempts to distract themselves from their own problems.


It’s been 11 years since I started waxing, and thousands of rupees later, I still wonder why I have always been the hairy girl. I have cursed my parents for the genes they passed on to me. I have been made fun of by my guy friends for having “more hair than them”.

I can’t think of going on a beach holiday with my friends because how will they understand that their “skinny” friend won’t wear a bikini because she has enough body hair to make a wool blanket. 

I have been tch-tch-ed at by my parlour aunty every two weeks for “ayeee, itni heavy growth kar ke aa gayi”. And I’ve sat in parlours when they’ve tch-tch-tched at other girls, making them feel like lesser beings for something as trivial as body hair.

The very friends who envy my long and thick hair are the same ones who can’t empathise with me when I say “I can’t wear shorts because I’ve not waxed in two weeks.” I’m filled with rage when I see Katrina Kaif Veet-ing her perfectly lasered, hairless legs.

If you think about Beauty and the Beast, it’s a fairy tale because a beautiful girl falls in love with a hairy beast. Can you imagine the opposite happening?

It would be science-fiction or rather Doomsday-fiction because boys will never be taught to see girls as anything more than hairless, sexual objects. Can you imagine a film showing a girl with body hair in a film? They’d rather cast an actress over the age of 35 in a lead role opposite a man who’s over 50, before that happens.

Why did we start telling girls that hairless is beautiful while hairy is shameful? 

Why is the same hair normalised on a man and chastised on a woman? Why is one painful journey in a month not enough for a woman that she has to undertake two?

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Beauty   beauty and the beast   Frida Kahlo 

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