There was something different about Mandy. I looked at her closely to identify what it was and exclaimed: Goodness, Mandy, you need to get your eyebrows and upper lip threaded asap. You’re looking positively hirsute!
Far from looking embarrassed, Mandy beamed: I am, aren’t I? It’s awesome!
Momentarily distracted from their food, the others stared hard at her face. Sabrina asked disapprovingly: What’s ‘awesome’ about it Mandy? Your eyebrows are shaggy and there’s a brown fuzz on your upper lip. I wonder that you can see through those bushy eyebrows!”
Me: Normally you’re so fastidious about your appearance. Have you been terribly busy?”
Shobha(kindly): Come to the washroom, I’ll quickly do your threading for you.
Mandy laughed: Stop! Stop! I’m deliberately growing my body hair. It’s a movement.
Shobha: What’re you talking about Mandy?
Mandy: Well, me and my friends have joined the Janu-hairy project. The goal of the movement is to allow us to learn more about ourselves, and from that appreciate each other more.”
Sabrina: How will hair on your body going to help you value yourself more, bhai? In a corporate environment, you must be careful about your appearance.
Me: Where’s this hairy idea coming from, vaise?
Mandy: Well, there’s a woman from the UK called Laura Jackson, who’s started Janu-hairy on Instagram.The movement wants women to “love and accept” their natural hair while raising money for a charity called Body Gossip. She says that we should “shave the stigmas, not the hair”. Isn’t that an amazing ideology?
Shobha: Look, Mandy, it’s all very well to be feminist, but you don’t have to make yourself look unattractive to prove that point. What does your husband have to say about this?
Mandy grinned: He’s supporting me actually. He says he finds me attractive even if I have a fuzzy moustache. We’re both trying to start conversations to build communities that look beyond our bodies. You ladies should try it too. It feels so liberating!
Sabrina: No thanks. The idea of going without epilating for a month will probably play havoc with my OCD.
Mandy: Look, as a man, having a hairless body is about beauty and not masculinity. But as a woman, a hairless body is about beauty and femininity. It’s taboo for a woman to have body hair and so she gets rid of all the hair that are below her head. We’re trying to inspire women to be best versions of themselves, be free to make their choices and not be body shamed for their preferences .
Shobha: Interesting theory, but my best version of myself doesn’t include hairy armpits and overgrown moustaches.
Me: Come to think of it, most of us take part in these hair-removal rituals without thinking much about how they reinforce gender norms. We probably need a more neutral and natural attitude.
Shobha: Oh please! Don’t you start now.
Sabrina: BTW, is your Janu-hairy followed by Febru-hairy?
Mandy: No…no…it’s up to the woman how far she wants to take it.
We heaved a collective sigh of relief.