Forty-Something Years in Ninaland

Hair and Heroines–Repost

Jul
20

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Hair and Heroines

Are you grossed out? Be honest. I told my students in my Composition I class to be honest when I showed them a slew of pictures of unshaven women from kaurlife.org and the Huffington Post.

“I’m grossed out,” said a one woman and one man in my class. “I think it’s beautiful,” said another red-headed woman. She told us she had scars on her body and her boyfriend thought they were lovely. He loved her imperfections. “I don’t mind,” said another European man in my class.

Photo by Intoxifaded

Is hair even an imperfection if everyone has it?

Sikhs are not supposed to cut their hair or shave their body. They happen to think that’s perfect.

After reading the article in kaurlife.org that depicted Sikh women’s struggle with their body hair, the same man who said he was grossed out said he respected these women and were inspired by their strength. The woman who said she was also not comfortable with the site, said she sort of changed her mind about it when she read the article.  These women had overcome bullying and taunting from the general public.

Photo by Ben Hopper

Both of these students said, however, that if someone is doing something just for their religion or their society, they don’t respect it as much as if the women were just doing it for themselves.

Hold on a minute, if someone wears a turban just for their religion, maybe not even for themselves, I still respect it. I think respect has to be given to everyone’s beliefs. If they are doing it for their religion, maybe they believe is what god wants, aren’t they doing it for themselves too?

I mean I get the kids’ point, that if the women are keeping their hair because they think it makes them beautiful and real and helps them express who they really are, respect should be given. If they are only doing it to please god it seems rather dicey. However, respect is still due I believe.

Photo by Ben Hopper

There was a Sikh woman I once met who didn’t shave her legs or underarms because she was a feminist. I thought she was awesome. Was she doing it for herself, or for this belief in feminism or for or sort of against society norms? Where is her self in all this?

“Women should not have to follow society’s idea of what their bodies should look like,” the student with the scars added.

I agree. I’m Sikh but I still cut my hair, shave my legs and underarms and thread my eyebrows and take care of my facial hair. Am I weak?

I mean I think I look maybe pretty or something without a mustache, however, I completely respect those women who think it makes no difference.

Photo by Ben Hopper

It’s tragic that we live in a society that wants them to feel ugly. I remember this Sikh woman who didn’t know what to do about her daughter who could possibly have a condition that made her grow extra facial hair.  She didn’t know if she should give her daughter this medicine that would make it go away. Her worry was that Sikhs think of hair as a gift from god.

I did not cut the hair on my head until I was twenty-six. I did, however, shave all my ‘unwanted’ hair starting at the age of twelve. I consider myself a Sikh, although I am by no means religious. I consider myself a feminist as well, although by no means am I a good one.

I guess my idea of beauty still involves hair styles and hairless faces and bodies and make-up. I understand that god didn’t make me naturally that way. However, in my humble opinion, we do a lot of unnatural things…However, I have deep respect for my Sikh sisters who don’t touch a razor or scissors to their hair. I hope they equally have respect for my opinion.

Photo by Ben Hopper

I walk around with the name Kaur (a Sikh last name for women) and I do not do it to identify as a Sikh, I chose it as my pen name because it is my middle name. And it means princess. And I’m a princess. However, I don’t sit here trying to represent the views of everyone in my religion. I only represent my views.

I told a dude to call me princess once and he said he would never because he didn’t believe in aristocracy. Well, I believe in feminism and I’m still a princess looking for her Singh, or lion. As sexist and old fashioned as that sounds.

Photo by Ben Hopper

You can call me a hypocrite because I don’t follow like one thing or whatever. Call me anything you want. I’m complex.

I don’t have to go by your standards and you don’t have to go by mine. We are all free.

Thank god for that…

nina

Please visit this site to read the entire article in Kaur Life

Epilog: I thought I was done with this article until I realized something. I have something more to say. We consider hair to be flaws on women’s bodies. This is obviously not a fair thought. However, if I believe that why am I removing the hair from my body? Because perhaps my mind is flawed.

I have bought into the beauty standards of our country and even now our world. Can I unlearn this? Maybe, but I got bigger fish to fry. If I want to unlearn something, first I must unlearn the idea that I am unworthy as a woman without a thin perfect body. I have a long list of stuff I would rather not believe or do, but I have been conditioned as such. Maybe we are all a little robotic and do things because the herd is doing them.

I want to be my own person, just like everybody else does. There you go.

nina

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