By Liana Jacob
MEET THE WOMAN embracing her BODY HAIR despite strangers saying she’s ‘DISGUSTING’ and should be thrown in the ‘TRASH.’
Artist, dancer and hula hoop coach, Macey Duff (19) from Nevada, USA, started shaving her legs and arms when she was just 10 years old as she felt conditioned to do so by society, even though she was keen to let her hair grow all her life.
For six years, she was made to feel too ashamed to let her body hair grow and couldn’t bear the thought of revealing her true self in public for fear of being ridiculed.
It wasn’t until 2016, when Macey and her family moved to Hawaii as her father got a job there, that her sister, Ally (19), witnessed a woman wearing a one-piece swimming suit while showing off her thick, hairy legs and armpits on a beach. Even though she was not the one to witness this woman herself, she was inspired.
Not long after, she came across a woman on Instagram featuring her dark leg hair and this shocked her. It was enough to motivate her to stop shaving and let her hair grow. Whilst it was a challenge initially with feeling fearful of the public’s reaction and the discomfort of the stubble, she has had no regrets and admits that she grew a personal connection with her own body and learnt to accept herself for who she is.
Throughout her journey, she has received a lot of criticism over her decision to let her body hair grow and has even had strangers approach her to express their disgust. Macey says that this has only left her feeling more empowered by the impact it’s had on people.
She has since been sharing her body hair in all its glory on her Instagram page, @maceytheearthling. She wants to prove that being hairy can be a beautiful, feminine thing, contrary to what society has led us to believe. Since she and her twin sister, Ally, took the plunge, her older sister, Johannah (21), followed in their footsteps and let her body hair grow too.
“I started shaving around the age of ten. For what reason? Just because all the women around me did it, being taught it was what women should do,” Macey said.
“I would shave any time hair began to grow; I was fearful of anyone even slightly glancing at my armpits, legs and bikini line if I had any visible stubble. I struggled with accepting myself.
“With every cut and razor burn from the repetitive motion of swiping away, I was silently despising myself for not being who they wanted me to be – I was angry and frustrated with these conditions.
“I still can be sometimes. I had no idea I could question or defy them at the time. Little did I consider the amount of energy I was reducing each time I shaved.
“Why couldn’t I just be myself and why do I keep doing this? And is this seriously what this world expects of me? I struggled with the ability to comprehend why I needed to shave for someone else’s comfort and pleasure.
“It wasn’t until a few years later when my family moved to Hawaii that I chose to stop shaving. My sister witnessed a woman in a one-piece swimming suit with thick hairy legs, armpits, and obvious pubic hair growing with confidence and at the beach.
“I felt empowered just hearing about it, although I didn’t witness it personally. I saw a woman on Insta soon after and she had a photo of herself featuring her leg hair that was dark and apparent.
“My world shook when I witnessed a woman with body hair for the first time. I could not even describe the relief I felt knowing that there were women out there defying the standards placed for us to appeal to public eye as ‘beautiful’ and ‘sexy’ – even ‘worthy’.
“I felt inspired and soon experimented with growing out my own body hair. I love it. It was frightening to say the least.
“Lifting my armpits in public at first was scary. The stubble was uncomfortable during the first few weeks, yet I can hardly even remember that period because now my hair is long and soft.
“But I was able to get past that stage of prickly itchiness. With each new day my hair began to get softer. I grew a very personal connection for my own body. I felt this intense awareness because I no longer felt numb to the atmosphere around me.
“I felt a deep appreciation for simply being myself. It took about a month for my hair to comfortably grow out, I have not used a razor blade since.”
Macey admits that while she has felt this surge of empowerment since ditching the razors, walking among the public wasn’t easy as most people reacted badly.
One of her pictures ended up going viral on Facebook and the results shocked her. She was shocked to discover the amount of negative comments that were posted.
“My family was very supportive, my two sisters and I all stopped shaving and my mother eventually was inspired to discontinue shaving her armpits,” she said.
“My twin sister and I even dyed our armpit hair for fun in the beginning months. Many friends were inspired and empowered by this, and some of them too, stopped shaving.
“I am empowered by the doors it has opened for me, into a happier, less stressful, and inspiring life. I have never known myself so intimately until I stopped shaving. I didn’t really know who I was until I stopped. It is a journey towards deep self-love.
“I had a complete stranger walk by me, stop in front of me, and verbally express their disgust with my body hair.
“’EHHHK, leg hair’, they said. I simply smiled and giggled at their audacity, it felt even more empowering witnessing the affect it can have.
“I have had people directly point at me and whisper over to the group/person they are with, gawking and laughing at me.
“I have had words like ‘you should’ve been thrown away in the trash’, ‘too ugly’ and ‘too disgusting’ to ever have a partner.
“I’ve dealt with mean words through the comfort of being myself and honouring myself for allowing my body to be as it is because I know I am worthy and beautiful, beyond my physicality.
“I took a picture of myself, expressing my body hair; so content and confident. Not thinking too much of it.
“Two years later at a moment in my life that was heavy, I saw this image of myself come up again and I reposted it.
“A couple of days later, I woke up to a DM from my friend telling me a post of me was going viral on Facebook.
“She sent me the post and I was taken back by the amount of hatred; I honestly had no idea people had such a strong and disgusted feeling towards this body I so deeply love.
“That particular photo of me has been featured in viral posts/memes all over Instagram, Facebook, and twitter.
“At first I felt sad. I felt confused. But I had an epiphany, and I realised that although their words were painful, I was planting seeds. Overall I feel grateful and blessed that this image was shared so widely.
“My advice to anyone who wishes to break society’s perception of beauty; be gentle on yourself. We beat ourselves up so much because we’ve been taught to retch at our own natural existence.
“Own the most authentic version of yourself and allow it to free you from the external idea of beauty.
“Create beauty for yourself. Let yourself be in control of what is beautiful. Find beauty within and you will see beauty in everything.
“Lastly – you’re worth it. Don’t let anyone’s harsh words get you down. This is a journey of self-love; questioning the status quo and unlearning old ways. You are strong and born with beauty.”
For more information visit: www.instagram.com/maceytheearthling