It was a complete revelation to me when, a few years ago, I dated a woman who liked my chest hair. Naturally, the greater revelation is that there was a woman willing to date me at all, but let’s focus on the positive here. After a lifetime spent thinking that it was disgusting, somebody actually dug nature’s decision to leave me with a year-round, all-natural Chewbacca costume.
It surprised me so much because, like so many, I had come to associate hairlessness with attractiveness. Though I’ve always been acutely aware of how media deliberately represent unrealistic ideals, I swallowed them whole anyway. This is the funny thing about being human, and being a minority especially: you can’t simply think your way out of the ways you end up hating yourself.
Still, you would think that if a world of hairless white bodies rejected my fuzzier brown one, I could at least find respite in the culture I might loosely call “my own”. After all, South Asian men are often notoriously and conspicuously hairy. Surely of all places I could turn to Bollywood to find more appropriate, personally relevant ideals of Ron Jeremy-like body thatch, right?