Beauty and the Beholder

I not so recently returned to Nigeria; I’ve lived here before, albeit 10 years ago, I still know the lay of the land. However, one thing I did not anticipate, aside from the intense humid heat, was the women!

Nigerian women do not shave their legs!

They do not shave their legs! I do not like to engage in hyperbole, so I will revise my statement; at least 92.6% of the women I came across (including passers-by) did not shave their legs. I presume they’ve never indulged in the joys of leg waxing or the rite of passage into womanhood by knicking your legs with a razor, because these hairs were ferocious and bountiful in nature. What further astounded me was these women actually wore items of clothing that paraded their legs and further compounding my astonishment – men actually catcalled, flirted and toasted* these women.

Now, I am aware we are not for ‘male consumption’ and catcalling is repulsive but I cannot deny many of beauty standards are designed to make women look more appealing to our male counterparts. I still could not phantom how women who had taken time to apply make-up, get their hair done, iron their clothes did not shave their very hairy legs! Everyone (in Britain) knows, even if you’re wearing cropped jeans, that the courteous thing to do is shave the exposed areas! It’s only right.

I came to this conclusion, Nigerians (men and women alike) are actually progressive…

My astonishment soon became envy, How are these women so confident? Are they not aware that hairless legs are feminine? Maybe it’s because  (insert popular hair remover brand) isn’t ready available. I tried to find reason in this madness – I could not.

I came to this conclusion, Nigerians (men and women alike) are actually progressive (when it comes to body hair) and understand that it is natural and completely acceptable for hair to grow on legs of women. Nigerians know there’s no correlation between femininity and the hairiness of a woman’s legs!

To tell you I have not found it refreshing to leave the hair on my legs to grow fallow will be nothing short of a lie! I have enjoyed every moment of it. Occasionally, I’ll rid my legs of its furry coat because I look down and think ‘Goodness! That’s a lot of hair’. I am unsure whether this is a response to personal preference or social conditioning.

I can continue to wax poetic on the progressiveness of Nigerians in respect to accepting unshaven feminine legs but I shan’t.

One thing hairy-gate made me realise is that beauty standards are constantly shifting – the very women who leave their leg hairs to grow with gay abandon are the same ones who have no qualms shaving off their eyebrows to draw on the perfect shape!

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that beholder isn’t you. It is often time, society or the dude you like with the most ridiculous ‘preferences’ in the world (psstt… quit him, he’s not your king) or the internalised pressure you feel to look like WCWgoals. All I know is, I was not consulted when these standards were being determined.

Therefore, you are good and beauty standards can suck on a cold soggy fish.

Again, because I do not like to engage in hyperbole, I will revise my statement – Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that beholder isn’t (primarily) you. God looked at all he created and said it was good. Therefore, you are good and beauty standards can suck on a cold soggy fish.

Now, I’m not exactly saying we should do away with all the fads we currently have – I do like a fleeky brow and ombre lips as much as the next person. I understand that these standards are a way to remain relevant and relate with culture – far be it from me that I would be rocking a Jheri Curl in 2016! If you or someone you love dearly is still rocking the Curl – I’ll add you to my prayer list. The changing standards give you a change to reinvent yourself, to try something new. Like a Phoenix, you can rise from the ashes of the old fad and be brand new! I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to remain relevant. I think it becomes an issue when you become weighed down by these standards and you constantly obsess about fitting the standard. The  masters of these games are cruel – the odds are never in your favour.

You are made in the image and likeness of God – that trumps any beauty standard humans can conjure up.

*toast: Nigerian slang (verb) to chat someone up / engage someone romantically.

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