Ayqa Khan, a 20-year-old, Brooklyn-based digital illustrator and photographer, was featured on BuzzFeed yesterday for a series of illustrations she’s created that center on “societal pressure for women to remove body hair.” According to what she shared on her Tumblr, she got “a lot of hate comments” on that article. In response, Ayqa, a first-generation Pakistani-American, felt compelled to “share a bit more” about her perspective on the issue, which comes, in part, from being made to get her “unfeminine” hair waxed since age 11.
“I think some of the funniest comments I have read are one’s that range along the lines of “she’ll never get married” and “removing body hair is hygienic and respectable” and “why doesn’t she preach about actual woman’s issues?”
What has bothered me the most, is not people’s narrow-mindedness, but more so the idea that this isn’t a big deal or issue. If this wasn’t a big deal, there would be no hate. When a FEMALE is attacking another FEMALE on what to do with her body, that is an issue to me. My mother owns a beauty salon where she has made me get waxed ever since I was about 11 because she thought that the hair that was given to my body was “unfeminine”. What bothered me the most was not the pain of getting waxed, but the idea that she thought something natural about me was “gross”. I felt looked at as an object, rather than a HUMAN. People from my school would stare at my thick arm hair in disgust really. And yes, this made me feel really insecure and unworthy.
When a person is constantly experiencing situations like this, it’s harmful to their mental health. Social constructs are really tough to talk about because for the most part, everything can be linked to an opinion and what are opinions really? There isn’t much fact that goes into the making of social constructs but there IS fact in the effects of social constructs.
It is important for me to recognize the pain and harm that comes with such constructs. There are many issues that society is fighting for in regards to woman, and at this point in my life, I am choosing to focus on creating a space of acceptance.”
Brava Ayqa! Prints of her work can be purchased here.