On the Friday before the Columbus Day weekend, my sister came home from school and coyly pulled me into her room so we could talk privately. After sitting me down, she informed me that this whole ordeal was to say that she wanted to shave her legs. At first, I went “yeah sure, but you’ll need to bring it up with mum,” but then I realised…why did she want to shave her legs in the first place?
When I was in 7th grade, aka when I was 12/13, one of my ‘friends’ reminded me every single day without fail that my legs were hairy and that I should so something about it. She would pull me aside and “advise” that I shave my legs. What could she possibly hope to gain other than to make me self conscious? Obviously I knew what she said to be true, but I had never seen it as something to be ashamed of. Nor had I seen many other things as shameful, all of my physical insecurities have arisen from those “helpful” little tips from middle school. I’m 16 now and I still can’t seem to shake the hatred sewn into me. I’d be damned if I let the same thing happen to my sister.
She’s 10 years old. She can’t escape the confines of today’s beauty standards. Although we’ve made incredible strides within the past decade, there’s still much more we can do for our younger children to teach them to love themselves, or at least continue to support diversity in the media. I know it sounds like I may be blowing this out of proportion, but I want her to know it’s okay to ask things like that, there’s no shame in wanting to shave your legs or opting not to. I was absolutely terrified to bring up the topic with my mum and my sister deserves to feel confident and free to talk to people about her concerns. If shaving her legs would do that, then so be it.
I just want people to understand that pointing out things people have little control over, like shaving, yes, but more importantly things like scars, acne, the sound of someone’s voice, etc. really forces that person to worry about their appearance in an increasingly vicious sense. There’s this rule I heard about last year, it goes something like, if they can’t fix it in 5 minutes, don’t point it out. So it’s helpful to let someone know that their makeup is smudged or if they have food in their teeth, but if it’s something internal, leave it be.
I love my sister and all those little kids that feel like they need to change something about themselves to fit in. They’re valid and they’re fine the way they are, we all are.
By Ursula Vudrag