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"When I started showing my body hair more, I got a lot of positive feedback. I realized that the more authentic I am, the better it is for me."
Since I was really young, I didn’t shave, I was just born not wanting to do that. I grappled with that through puberty, high school and university – feeling like I was supposed to want to fit in that way. And I did want to fit in, but it just wasn’t who I was. I got a lot of societal pressure, and so I didn’t feel comfortable completely owning that until I was in my really late 20s. After therapy and having supportive partners and friends, I was able to build up that confidence.
When I started showing my body hair more, I got a lot of positive feedback from people. I realized that the more authentic I am, the better it is for me, and the better it is for other people who might have similar issues.
I was fortunate that my mom was a tomboy and I lived with brothers, so I wasn’t modelled after a lot of super-feminine behaviour. Whenever I would do anything feminine, I got a lot of attention. I remember feeling really uncomfortable trying feminine things, and I felt like it was inherently sexual and felt pressure to perform a certain gender identity. I just wanted the freedom to be able to try things and try different gender presentations without getting comments on it.
It felt like, if I do these things, if I continue to not shave, and if I wear baggy clothes, and if I cut my hair short, nobody will really pay attention to me. But when I put on makeup and wear a push-up bra and shave, people are talking to me all the time, people are trying to date me and my parents are more proud of me. I didn’t want that. I wanted to just be able to be me and focus on my personality.
I didn’t know what feminism was until I was in university. Now, in my view, feminism is essentially the right for people of any gender to make their own choices, especially about their body. It all completely ties into my feminism, because it was after so much therapy and learning about feminism that I had the strength to be able to be myself. It’s hard to go out in the world every day and just be yourself when you know that you’re going to face backlash and attention and oppression because of it. I have to say that it’s partly because of my privilege that I’m able to do this. I have gotten some negative feedback from it, but because I am white and relatively thin and young, I feel like most people see it as just a choice I’m making and I’m able to get away with it without a lot of negativity.
The fact that I’m an artist helps because part of being an artist is trying to magnify your strengths and quirks. For me, it became an asset to have something that was kind of different. I have a body positivity animated music video coming out that actually focuses on body hair and defeating the patriarchy.
Imagine that you never saw a mirror in your life and you somehow were missing that part of your brain that told you what you were supposed to look like. I know for myself, I would not want to take a blade to my legs and shave off my hair.
Jessie Olsen, aka Bae Savage, community manager, podcaster
Gelek Badheytsang, communications professional, writer, podcast host
Arianne Persaud, writer, documentary filmmaker
Gary Alderson, sales