Today was my second time attending a Body Pride session. Body Pride in short involves a facilitated discussion of body image, sex and sexuality with a circle of naked people. One notable difference from my last session is that this one was being filmed for a documentary on the experience. Unlike last time, I knew a few of the attendees, which immediately made me feel comfortable and able to open up. Also unlike last time I was exponentially more sober. Entirely sober, even. This time I didn’t fall out of a drunken handstand and dislocate my finger, for instance.
My central reasoning behind attending revolves around my unhealthy body image. I’m not gonna waste any more space on here talking about my internalised body image issues, because it seems regressive and altogether unhelpful in moving beyond them. Yes, reflection is mega important, but I’ve done a ton of that. Today’s Body Pride brought up something I’d never really considered and that’s what I want to talk about right now. Amidst all these unhealthy self-perceptions and negative body issues, I found a shining light.
I realised today that I really do like my hair.
All of it. From my crown to my toes, I’m happy with it. I find it hard to criticise any part, it all just happens to work for me marvellously. It’s soft and luscious, never course. I’ve never been too furry, but just enough. As a child of 7 or 8 years, I noticed that I was hairier than most of the other boys my age. I had leg hair, arm hair. I thought maybe I was a werewolf in training or something, but it just happened that I liked the look of a full moon. Puberty happened, but Teen Wolf didn’t happen with it. In fact, as I aged, my hairiness slowed down. I continued to get hair in all the warm places that teenage boys often get hair, but my arms and legs stopped growing so rampantly. They stopped at the right time, I’ve got a decent covering without being fuzzy. I couldn’t ask for more. I’ve got great chest hair, even with all my reflexive negativity, I like it. It’s the right amount for me. No shag carpet, merely a thin blanket, soft to the touch.
I have a narrow snail trail leading down to a curly Jew fro at my nethers. If I have the time, I’ll shave it for partners (because nobody really likes flossing with pubes, right?), but more often than not I forget and it grows. The reason it takes so long is a) because it’s so verdant and b) because it’s such a delicate space, that a nick here or there really smarts. I take great care, starting with some hair scissors. I’ll trim back the heavy foliage to get a uniform level before going in for the finer areas. Grabbing a women’s razor (because they’re a bit gentler, generally (genderally?)) and tidying up the brush. So much time is spent on the scrotum and shaft, making sure I get every little bit I can. I’ve never been itchy after shaving, thank Christ, and the result usually looks quite swell (especially when it swells, amirite?).
My face, it does the hair thing in any iteration. I’m lucky that my jaw and growth are conducive to a bunch of styles. I can grow it out and go super beardy, I can shave it entirely off and suddenly get ID’d when buying booze. At this stage I’m keeping a beard that I trim down once a week to a uniform level. It’s full, not patchy. It suits me, gives shape to my head, connects to my moustache and really helps ground my features. I like my facial hair and it hugs my chin right back.
My head hair does what it will. I’ve grown it out a few times, it gets wavy and flows well. It gives partners something to grab onto and there’s something oddly cathartic about wiping my fringe out of my eyes. I only recently learned about face shapes and choosing a style that suits me, which is basically anything without a heavy fringe. Guess which style I’ve adopted for years… As it stands I’ve adopted a shorter, cleaner look. I’m using product (with no idea how to properly do it) and you know what? I’m happy with the results. I like what I see when I check out my face in the morning mirror. When people compliment it, for some reason my brain lets me accept those compliments instead of assuming the complimentor has hidden motive in saying something nice. If there are steps towards being happy with my reflection, I’ve finally found somewhere I’m comfortable looking.