Pubes, bushy pits and kink: Four women's hair diaries

Ahead of #MGFridayBody, an edition on body politics, we tackle beauty standards by challenging women to grow their body hair. Here are their diaries. (Reuters)

Ahead of #MGFridayBody, an edition on body politics, we tackle beauty standards by challenging women to grow their body hair. Here are their diaries. (Reuters)

Long spirally pubes, bushy armpits and furry leg hair are rarely seen on women who grace our TV screens, fashion blogs or porn videos. That’s if you subscribe to the three. And even if you don’t, it’s pretty much public knowledge that contemporary standards of beauty tend to favour hollow-cheeked and hair-free women. 


Hair challenge participants:
Model and clothing designer Neo Leoka
Blogger and columnist Milisuthando Bongela 
Digital strategist Megan Fourie
M&G education reporter 
Victoria John


And let’s not exclude men from a conversation in which terms like “spornosexual” and “metrosexual” are flung around. But the hair story doesn’t end there. There’s still the topic of head hair, in particular black hair. 

“Kinky hair”,“kroes hare”, “nappy hair”, “good hair”, “4B-type curls” and “1C-type curls” are just some of the words used to draw attention to the “quality” of different hair types. Some of these terms still carry the weight of our colonial past, so having flowing straight hair, weaves and braids are more often preferred over coils that grow close to our heads or freeforming natural tresses. 

But regardless of your hair texture, skin tone and body shape, people of all creeds are affected by pervasive beauty standards. And living in a patriarchal, Eurocentric society doesn’t make it any easier for women. 

So, ahead of our upcoming #MGFridayBody edition, which explores beauty, gender, hair and body politics, I enlisted four Jo’burg-based women to take part in a hair-growth challenge to tackle how societal pressures inform our understanding of comfort and beauty. 

Here are their diaries.


stefanie jason

stefanie jason

Following studying towards her Film & Media degree at the University of Cape Town and North Carolina State University, Stefanie Jason began work as a copy editor and writer for various South African publications, including Bona, True Love and Sowetan, as well as the Mail & Guardian. For the M&G's arts & culture supplement Friday, she writes about art, music & lifestyle when she isn't relaxing, traveling or checking out Jo'burg's many art galleries. Read more from stefanie jason

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