Saying you’re Latina can be the embodiment of a life filled with so much fun, family, strength and of course amazing food. Another thing this life can come with is the stigma of what a woman should be. In the media a woman is told to be a perfect human, and perfect has also been synonymous with hairlessness, somehow. Body hair is one signifier of being Latina, and this is nothing to be ashamed of, but embraced.
I never even realized body hair for a woman was something deemed controversial until 8th grade when one of my peers, who was also Latina, talked about how she shaves her arms. How some boys thought it was manly. This comment was hurtful enough for her to make a new lifestyle change.
This isn’t a case that varies among our community. When it comes to hair grooming, the idea of cleanliness is often brought up. “Low income hispanics (black and white women as well) groom their hair more” DeMaria, Berenson (2013), NCIB. This can be caused by the early pressure they face about how to look, which can cause long term physiological effects on a young girl growing into a young woman.
Hair is another mode that can allow Latinas to tell a story. This doesn’t just have to be the hair on our heads but our hairy arms and legs too. For me, it tells a story of my ancestors who didn’t listen to negative stereotypes of what a woman should be and persisted to live life their own way while being proud of their culture.
There are some Latina women put in the spotlight who have embraced their bodies, one being the iconic and late Frida Kahlo. Frida Kahlo was known of course for her beautiful works of art, but also her unibrow and mustache. They were symbolic and a celebration of her being Mexican.
You should never remove your body hair because of societal beauty standards of what a woman should look like. Having hairy arms isn’t unprofessional. Having an armpit shadow doesn’t mean you’re not attractive. Having hairy legs doesn’t mean you lack self respect.
Each strand on our body represents so much more than the box this world tries to put a Latina in. ámate a ti mismo y el cuerpo que tienes!