Note from Jen Pastiloff, founder of The Manifest-Station. This is part of our Young Voices Series for Girl Power: You Are Enough. We are always looking for more writing from YOU! Make sure you follow us on instagram at @GirlPowerYouAreEnough and on Facebook here.
By Daniela Grageda
I hadn’t seen my older sister in a month and all she saw was the armpit hair on my twin sister.
“If you shave your legs, why not shave your armpit hair?” She questioned my twin sister.
It is a choice. Never did I imagine I needed to ask for permission to not shave, or to ask permission for anything that it is not causing any harm to any other human being.
I hadn’t seen my sister in a month and she questioned me “you’re trying to get locks on your hair?”, when she saw the dreads starting to form. It was the first time she saw my hair let loose after wearing it up for a while.
“No, we just don’t brush our hair” — my twin sister answered for me.
“I haven’t seen you in a month, I don’t know what happened to you guys!”
I felt heavy, in my heart, I felt so heavy.
Yes, she had not seen us in a month, and that is all she had to say. Really, that is all she had to say.
It is not that I was looking for her approval, I knew my twin sister and I were considered the ‘strange’ ones in the family anyway. But the feeling I felt that moment was quite different. My older sister’s eyes were full of judgement and disgust. It was evident. I felt unwelcomed. I was standing in the presence of unacceptance. Eyes that were blind to her own beauty, let alone ours. If she were comfortable in her own skin, she would have no reason to judge ours, I thought.
Do not define me, do not label me, do not remember me as you saw me last. I am growth, I am beauty itself, I thought.
We have grown up with certain approaches to our natural form that it is so bizarre to let our armpit hair grow out because we learnt to shave it as soon as we began to notice it grow. All because it is not ‘acceptable’ for women to glow with their armpit hair!
All because it’s only normal for men to have hair on their armpits.
We are raised around straighteners, combs, shampoos…Essentials right? Essentials that will make our hair beautiful!
With shoes that will make an impression of us looking taller, more confident, and fancy!
With chemicals to spoil our faces, just to get a bit of color on our cheeks!
I don’t brush my hair everyday?
I don’t shave?
I don’t paint my nails?
Do I somehow betray my own skin? My own body? Am I not considered “normal”?
At one point in my younger years, I did feel it was necessary for me to learn how to walk in heels and how to apply makeup on my face, because I saw every female in my family doing so. But it never felt natural to me. It wasn’t me and to this day, I have no sense of how to apply makeup or walk in heels.
Cosmetics and such appeal to women to look good, to have them look “decent” and many women are comfortable and even happy with those things, but it doesn’t make sense for me.
I don’t choose to not do these things so I can be considered a “weird” human being, though I know in my heart I am a weird creature.
I don’t undertake such actions simply because I do not support such things to enhance my beauty. I am comfortable without them.
My beauty just as it is, is pure.
Do not define me as you saw me last, no matter the time frame, because chances are, you won’t see me the same way twice.
I am constant growth.
Daniela Grageda was born in Mexico and is currently living in Arizona. She is an emerging photographer and writer who is working on her art portfolio and a collection of short writings and poetry. Follow Daniela on Instagram @dani.grageda_.