Indian author writes powerful poem about unrealistic expectations on women over body hair

Naina Kataria wrote the poem after she saw a celebrity endorsement for razors for women

Samuel Osborne
Sunday 08 May 2016 17:18
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Naina Kataria, 22, wrote: 'The idea was to notify men and grab their attention about what the process of hair removal is like'
Naina Kataria, 22, wrote: 'The idea was to notify men and grab their attention about what the process of hair removal is like'

An Indian woman's poem about the unrealistic expectations placed on women and their body hair

"When a man tells me I'm beautiful, I don't believe him," Naina Kataria writes.

"Instead, I relive my days in high school, When no matter how good I was, I was always the girl with a moustache."

The poem, titled "When A Man Tells Me I'm Beautiful", has been shared more than 9,000 times and has over 37,000 likes.

The 22-year-old Delhi-based blogger told Buzzfeed the idea for the poem came from when she went to a film with a man and saw an ad about razors for women.

When she said celebrities shouldn't endorse such products because they sound out the message that you have to buy the product to look beautiful, her friend told her she was "too much of a feminist".

She said the exchange made her wonder about unrealistic beauty standards and how women go through "excruciating amounts of pain to look merely presentable and men don't even have an idea of what it's like".

The poem in full:

When a man tells me

I’m beautiful

I don’t believe him.

Instead, I relive my days in high school

When no matter how good I was

I was always the girl with a moustache

He doesn’t know what it’s like

to grow up in your maternal family

Where your body is the only one that

Proudly boasts of your father’s X

While your mother’s X sits back and pities

It’s unladylike-ness

He doesn’t know the teenager

Who filled her corners with

Empty consolations of

Being loved for who she was- someday.

He doesn’t know hypocrisy.

He doesn’t know of the world that

tells you to ‘be yourself’

and sells you a fair and lovely shade card

in the same fucking breath

He doesn’t know of the hot wax and the laser

whose only purpose is to

replace your innocent skin

with its own brand of womanhood

He doesn’t know of the veet and the bleach

That uproot your robust hair

in the name of hygiene

Hygiene, which when followed by men

makes them gay and unmanly

He doesn’t know how unruly eyebrows are tamed

and how uni brows die a silent death

All to preserve beauty

And of the torturous miracles that happen

Inside the doors marked

"WOMEN ONLY"

So when a man calls me beautiful

I throw at him, a smile; a smile that remained

After everything the strip pulled away

And I dare him

To wait

Till my hair grows back.

Emma Watson asks Malala Yousafzai about feminism

Commenting on her poem's success, Ms Kataria wrote on Facebook: "What I observed was that it was women shared this poem everywhere. The idea was to notify men and grab their attention about what the process of hair removal is like."

She added: "So if you really wish to compliment me on what I wrote, stop getting grossed out by hairy women."

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