Naina Kataria’s Powerful Poem About Her Body Hair
‘I was always the girl with a moustache’
In a world where we’re inundated by images of Photoshopped models on magazine covers and ads telling us to chase unattainable beauty standards, the growing movement for women to embrace their curves, dress sizes, and ethnic features is a godsend. But one issue that’s often left out of the discussion is body hair. Women throughout the world fight a never-ending battle with painful waxing, plucking, threading, and shaving to meet their socities’ beauty standards. That’s why a poem recently written by a woman in New Delhi, India is so important.
Engineer-turned-freelance writer Naina Kataria was inspired to write about her struggles with body hair after going to the movies with a man. “We were watching this ad for razors for women when I remarked that celebrities shouldn’t endorse such products because it sends out a message that one has to buy them to look beautiful,” she told Vagabomb. “He replied by saying ‘OMG you’re too much of a feminist.’” After her the incident she wrote a poem about the fight against body hair women are forced to endure.
“We hide all these things from men,” she told Vagabomb. “Women go through excruciating amounts of pain to look merely presentable, and men don't even have an idea of what it’s like. So, when I thread my eyebrows and wax almost every part of my body raw, I ought to not believe a man who says that I’m beautiful, because he’s clearly not complimenting me, he’s complimenting all the tortuous efforts that I have gone through to match an unsaid yet mandatory standard. I am pretty sure he wouldn’t appreciate me the same with bushy eyebrows and hairy legs, which is why his appreciation for my looks is a delusion.”
Kataria’s untitled poem has been shared nearly 9,000 times on Facebook.
When a man tells me
I don’t believe him.
Instead, I relive my days in high school
When no matter how good I was
I was always the girl with a moustache
He doesn’t know what it’s like
to grow up in your maternal family
Where your body is the only one that
Proudly boasts of your father’s X
While your mother’s X sits back and pities
He doesn’t know the teenager
Who filled her corners with
Empty consolations of
Being loved for who she was- someday.
He doesn’t know hypocrisy.
He doesn’t know of the world that
tells you to ‘be yourself’
and sells you a fair and lovely shade card
in the same fucking breath
He doesn’t know of the hot wax and the laser
whose only purpose is to
replace your innocent skin
with its own brand of womanhood
He doesn’t know of the veet and the bleach
That uproot your robust hair
in the name of hygiene
Hygiene, which when followed by men
makes them gay and unmanly
He doesn’t know how unruly eyebrows are tamed
and how uni brows die a silent death
All to preserve beauty
And of the torturous miracles that happen
Inside the doors marked
So when a man calls me beautiful
I throw at him, a smile; a smile that remained
After everything the strip pulled away
And I dare him
Till my hair grows back.