“I see myself as a garden, as a forest, as the geography of my homeland.”
On Christmas Eve, Suraiya – an 18-year-old student from Dallas, Texas – posted pictures of herself showing her bare stomach and thighs on Twitter.
When the photos went viral, ignorant haters were quick to insult a totally natural and beautiful part of Suraiya’s anatomy: her body hair.
“Buy a razor,” said one troll to which Suraiya responded simply, “no.” More than anything, her post has sparked a widespread conversation about beauty expectations, race and feminism.
In an interview with Vice, Suraiya – who is of Iranian, Indian and Pakistani decent – elaborated on these ideas. Here’s what she had to say.
My 7th grade English teacher told me, “The winner of the argument is the one who defines the terms,” and I live by that. So when people started defining hair as gross, I redefined the terms for myself: I am not hairy, I see myself as a garden, as a forest, as the geography of my homeland. What those men see as appalling, I redefined to be a garden so beautiful Epicurus dare enter it — something to put Eden and Babylon to shame. Because of this, their comments really do mean nothing.
When you come at my body hair and call me Chewbacca — you aren’t just making fun of me. You’re making fun of your eyebrow lady, the woman you hire to do your henna, the women who stitch your Forever 21 tunics, your Uber driver, the dude who’s homework you copy, the man who makes the chicken tikka at your favourite Indian restaurant, your doctor, the engineer who built the highway you take to work. When you make fun of me, you make fun of ALL of us. You invalidate ALL of us.
It’s important to remember that not every culture shares the same standard of beauty, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with a woman deviating from what our sociey has deemed “normal.” Body hair, of all things, is a completely normal, healthy and cleanly part of one’s existence. To shame a woman or man for having it is just plain wrong.
Thanks for showing us that ALL of our bodies are beautiful, Suraiya!