The word empowered is defined as: “to give (someone) the authority or power to do something.” As a woman living in America I experience certain roles, standards, and beliefs regarding empowerment and my gender which were taught to me from childhood onward. These experiences I had are common among other women in the United States as well. These belief systems and standards were passed down from our earlier generations onto us one cycle at a time. Some of these inherited experiences do the opposite of the definition shared above. They are presented in one manner and in fact are really diminishing our empowerment. This occurs through expectations of self and others, social pressures, perceived or real rules and laws of location, and possibly personal fear and doubt that is systematized and shared with others. The focus of this article is the expectations put on women’s bodies and what amount of authorship and therefore empowerment we have related to our bodies.
As our bodies mature during tween and teenaged hood, we become aware of our hair growing in places beyond our heads. Most parents automatically teach their young girls that this natural occurrence is foreign, something that is ugly/unacceptable/unattractive/unfeminine and something to be managed and taken care of. My parents and other parents typically provide their daughters with one option: any new hair grown must be shaved. The location may and typically starts with legs, armpits, and facial hair. This typically stems and grows as the young lady matures. This is enforced either by constant suggestion to shave, shaming the young lady to shave, normalizing hairless bodies, or providing no examples of women who choose to keep hair on their legs and other body parts that are respected, desired romantically, and successful in life.
This normalizing of others outside of you dictating and suggesting how to manage a woman’s body tends to then be enforced by their peer group. An example of this occurring is who is popular or not and who is made fun of for looking ‘masculine’ or ‘un-womanly’ due to hair showing on body parts that are deemed not natural or acceptable. From here potential and future romantic partners can also be passing this belief system and structure on by complimenting a woman’s smooth hairless skin and at the same time acting disinterested in romantic or sexual relations when the women might attempt to grow her leg hair or share that in order to be a potential romantic target that a woman can’t have hair on her face.
One of my extended female family members growing up had visible lip hair before being 10 years old. Already before getting into elementary school her peer group was already shaming her and teasing her for what naturally grows on her body and her natural decision to keep her hair. She had begged her mom one time I was visiting them to wax her ‘moustache’. Her mom at the time said she was too young for that and asked why she desired this to which my young relative said because others made fun of me for having hair there. Already before 10 this young woman learned through experience that she was deviant or wrong for being hairy in certain places of her body and that she has to gain approval from others outside of her to alter and present her body in an acceptable way they deem appropriate.
From my perspective and experience being an empowered woman entails looking at your her-story, acknowledging how your world supported certain body and hair image beliefs, asking yourself if this is serving you and lighting you up, AND to have the option to reject this idea if it does not serve you. From here being empowered(authoring your life) can look like being a beacon of alternative choice for other women and showing merely by walking around in whatever you choose that there are multiple options to hair and body image. Taking back choice, power, and authorship of your body can start as simple as this, having hair on your body can be an act of spirituality and deep connection to your Creator.
In my Next article I will share my personal journey of Body and hair image, finding my fiction and my truths, and reclaiming my authorship and what that looks like for me.
Jessica Crystal Joy is a feminine empowerment educator that has been studying spiritual and self-improvement work since 2001. She provides articles, workshops, and presentations geared towards women being confident in speaking their desires and requirements in their life to their community using their intuition and deep connection with their bodies. She is known for quickly creating an environment of safety and expansion to go beyond a person’s past limited belief systems while explicitly and providing practical ways to be and live from a deeper empowered state of being in her clients day to day lives. She has a B.A. in Psychology and is a Certified Tantra Educator, Certified Intuitive Guide, a member of the Holistic Living Network, Yogi, creative writer for New Earth Media, blogger and social media/website maintainer, professional speaker, essential oils expert, vegan, and incorporates the many tools of Mastery Systems in her work. For more articles and ways to work with her check out her website http://jessicacrystaljoy.com.