Les 3 sex* / Benjamin Turcotte • Model ― Charlie Boudreau

#BODYHAIRMOVEMENT for #MaYHAIR

31 May 2019
Eden Fournier, Benjamin Turcotte
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Last year, for the month of May, Les 3 sex* posted a picture each day, with a short testimony and #BodyHairMovement and #MayHair hashtags on its Instagram account, in order to praise assumed ‘hairiness’ of women and non-binary people.

Les 3 sex* would like to thank the volunteers for their participation in the fight for sexual health.

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I’ve always been surrounded by hairy women. While transitioning1, it would have been harder to feel like a woman if I had done something to tear me apart from a lot of my friends. As surprising as it may seem to outsiders, I love my hair because it is a symbol of femininity for me.

However, if I were AFAB2, hair removal and body hair grooming would be a much smaller disadvantage. People I encounter on the street do not hesitate to say out loud, and at times even shout, that my hair is “disgusting”. Transmisogyny is a way to incubate and reinforce the same hateful thoughts as those targeted towards other women; it gives me the impression that I will never be a “real” woman. In feminist or lesbian environments that reluctantly accept trans-women, this mindset is a pretext for questioning my presence. I would love to ask those people, since when has shaving become a mandatory criterion to be a feminist lesbian?

Nobody needs to carry this burden. What is important, is for us to work together against the hair removal burden and the disgust for body hair; whatever we decide to do with it. As a trans-woman, I think that the search for passing3 is a beautiful adventure, and it is just as fabulous as aiming to assume one’s hairiness. I would like to do both at the same time. I take comfort in seeing that we explore it together, in our diversity.

1 Transitioning: bodily or social changes that trans people undertake in order to affirm their gender identity.
2 AFAB : assigned female at birth.
3 The fact, for trans people, to be seen as belonging to their gender identity or not to be seen as trans.

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Charlie

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For a long time, I unknowingly saw my hair in a negative light. My family, friends and partners conveyed the idea that having hair was ugly; that it was useless and that it was expected for women not to have any hair. Shaving and hair removal became revered rites to be accepted in society. Luckily, about a year ago, I met a wonderful person that helped me deconstruct all of my preconceived ideas about my hairiness and body in general. I learned how to love my body and to defy conventions.

I would like to ask all people who feel this pressure, to start questioning what exactly is wrong with having body hair, in order to realize how absurd the oppression against women and non-binary people is (and they are only a few examples of target groups). I would also like to suggest finding virtual or real support groups, movements and communities that convey the same values and fight for the same causes. It is exhausting to always go against the flow of societal norms, but in a group, the pressure is more bearable and we can finally see other people like us be positively represented!

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Catherine

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Like many people, I grew up thinking that shaving or waxing was not simply a choice, but rather, something normal for adult women to do. I can recall feeling embarrassed by my hair, as though it was inconvenient for others to see. But in my early twenties, I distanced myself from this idea after noticing that some women actually kept their hair and still felt good about their bodies. I realized that not all people cared about hair, and that some actually found it beautiful. I realized that displaying my hair might actually be an option for me. This epiphany, along with a good mixture of laziness, my appreciation for aesthetics, and my overall feelings of revolt, ultimately led to keeping my hair. On another note, I have also been very privileged to wear my hair naturally, easily: people rarely talk to me about it, and when they do, they are usually enthusiastic.

Hair is a part of every human; it is not a manifestation of masculinity, a sign of undesirability, nor is it a flaw. I believe that the more opportunities we have to see women and non-binary people embrace their hairiness, the more this idea will make sense and work its way into our minds.

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Quand j’étais plus jeune, je me rasais et m’épilais constamment, parce que cela me semblait nécessaire. J’allais dans une école réservée aux filles, et il était donc important de bien soigner son apparence. Cependant, en grandissant, je me suis rendu compte que je me sentais plus à l’aise et plus sexy avec mes poils pubiens.

Je vous dirais de faire ce qui vous met le plus à l’aise ! Ce qui m’a beaucoup aidé, c’est de trouver de nombreux médias alternatifs qui promeuvent les poils pubiens, les considérant comme naturels et beaux. Les médias traditionnels ne sont pas représentatifs, alors cherchez le média qui vous représente.

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Alex

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I see my hair, foremost, as a symbol of gender equality. There are so many double standards I comply with (even if I don’t really want to)—e.g. covering my chest during summer—so I now refuse to comply with this one. But accepting the way our body is can also be a personal endeavour. While I do not find my hair beautiful, I am learning to accept it as it is. I also particularly enjoy the feeling of a summer breeze blowing through the hair on my legs—I would not want to give that up for anything.

When I first started growing body hair at around the age of 11 or 12, I thought that it was shameful. I grew up with the idea that hair was disgusting and that it should always be removed. I had no reason to question this expectation, since I had no other choice: this idea has always been reinforced in social contexts, but mainly throughout my relationships with men (I have also been body-shamed by women, but much more often and bluntly by men). It was only two or three years ago that I decided to—literally—liberate myself from the hold that I was letting people have on my own body agency and on my decision about what to do with my hair. I have caved in several times, and I still sometimes feel insecure about it, especially when summer arrives. However, I’d rather deal with insecurities than go back to shaving.

I think that it is important to create new standards and shift the actual norms. I know that this position may seem a bit intense, but I think a hairless body resembles a child’s body… or even a Barbie’s body. I sometimes use this image to question people that shame me for keeping my hair. So, if these are the actual beauty (or femininity) standards, then we truly have things to reconsider.

I also believe that “you have a right to exist in the public space, just as in the private and intimate space, according to your own standards and desires, without being questioned or belittled.”

To quote my friend Sarah, who inspires me on several levels in life, and who is beautifully hairy, “be your own authority.” This motto should be adopted in all daily activities.

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Roxanne

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Today, I’d say that hair is beautiful and practical, but this hasn’t always been the case. At first, I had a hard time thinking hair was beautiful, but I was at peace with it, and I told myself not to worry about them being beautiful or not. What was most important for me, was to stop suffering over my hairiness. I adopted the “fake it till you make it” attitude, while also telling myself “convince yourself that they [my hair] are beautiful even if you don’t really think so,” and it worked! It might seem weird, but I really recommend it!

I went through an A to Z change in perspective regarding my body hair: it used to seem like an enemy that had to be fought (I thought my whole body was the enemy, actually). And today, I consider hair to be my ally, not my enemy.

But regardless, it’s fine to protect yourself. This hasn’t always been an easy thing to accept, and I’d be lying if I said that it was, but it’s so worth it. It gets better. It’s hard at first, but it ends up not taking as much space in your thoughts. The most important thing is to take your time, it’s okay to wear pants to go to work because you don’t feel like confronting people’s glances today…

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Julz

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I started shaving my legs in 6th grade because my classmates were laughing at me. Since my hairs were dark, they were very visible. For a few years, I let my leg hair grow out more often, and avoided shaving them during summer while wearing shorts. This was the same for the hair on my arms. For my legs, the social pressure to remove hair was strong, and people initially looked at me weirdly. I fought back against all the stress that it caused me, and now I’m fine just as I am. The same idea applies to my face. But that is another story centering around the societal idea that a “woman” with a hairy face is not socially acceptable AT ALL. Each day is a constant battle against glances, mockery, and any comments. But when I decided to show my hair, I’m showing who I truly am. I’m showing that I don’t care and that I’m me. It feels like a win every time.

Fight against yourself, against society, and be who you truly want to be. Societal and social pressures should not dictate your desires. Stand out, set yourself apart and change the way things are for the better.

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Kim

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I have a love-hate relationship with my hair, and I always have. My partners’ hairs have never really bothered me, but mine have always been something else. As a trans-woman, I have long identified my hair as masculine. It’s still the case today, but it is a less intense state of mind than it used to be. I increasingly assert my queer identity as a trans-lesbian woman, and hair can help display this—even if is hard for me—not to mention that laser hair removal has been quite efficient on my legs, but not on my armpits nor my arms. Today, I no longer shave them and I am not afraid to show them to the world. I sometimes dye the hair under my armpits and I’m proud to display them. As for my pubic hairs, I do not shave them for two reasons: 1. I easily get ingrown hairs, 2. They help to hide scars from surgery. I’ll always keep hair in this area of my body, even if a partner asks me not to. They have a protective role, and I like that. However, I still have a lot of trouble with some parts because they are more associated with male characteristics, such as the buttocks and especially the face. I’ve had a lot of dysphoria concerning hair on my face, and I still do today. The few hairs I still have there are still too many, and I’m never going to like them. The whole passing issue weighs on my relationship to facial hair and self-assurance.

It is not easy to like your hair, especially when society claims that hair is ugly and dirty. I think that for some trans-women it can be very difficult to appreciate them since hairiness is usually associated with masculinity. I am not the best person to tell people to like their hair in all their ways, colours, and forms, but I can confidently say through personal experience, we can learn to love them a bit more. I would not say that you have to like them entirely, but I think that everyone can appreciate them at different levels, and that is still okay. If someone hesitates with this approach, I would ask them to ask themselves why they hide their hair. What are the real reasons and are they valid? Deconstructing this concept of hiding and/or removing hair can most certainly help aid a person in deciding whether or not to reveal it instead. Moreover, there’s no obligation to reveal hair, and one can start with an easier part of the body, such as the arms, and then add another part to be revealed as self-assurance grows. And it’s always an option to stop or go back to previous routines. What needs to be remembered is that there is no pressure, even for those who want to hide their hair. It’s all about finding your own comfort zone.

mayhair, hair, hairy, inclusion, diversity, stereotype, fight, cause, feminism, beauty, standard, social convention, norms, gender

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