I was scrolling through Instagram recently when something caught my eye.
The picture was of a celebrity's legs, positioned upright, in front of a picturesque setting. It wasn't the beautiful scenery or the intense blue sky that grabbed my attention though, it was the fact that this celebrity had a smattering of blonde hairs across her thighs, visible in the sunlight.
A female celebrity was unapologetically displaying her body hair. And that celebrity was Millie Mackintosh.
At the time, I thought to myself how refreshing it was to see somebody famous bearing her body hair with pride and showing girls and women that thigh hair is a perfectly acceptable and totally normal thing to have.
But my happiness was soon subjected to a torrential downpour after the first deluge of hateful comments rolled in. One Instagram user told Millie that she should "wax them bad boys" while another added: "Want some leg with that hair?"
A woman has been heckled for having tiny blonde hairs on her thighs. This is the ridiculous reality that we face in 2016.
I'm just going to throw this out there, but whose business is it what Millie, or any woman for that matter, does with her body? If Millie was a guy, we wouldn't even be having this conversation. So why are we having it now?
I'll answer that. It's because women are still seen as objects.
Apparently, women "shouldn't" have body hair because it's not something that's seen in porn films or sexualised photo shoots. Society makes it feel like body hair is not "sexy" and therefore must be shunned - it's like living in Game of Thrones.
It saddens me that people have gone out of their way to shame Millie for having hair on her thighs because it gives others the message that, actually, if they've got a bit of body hair they should cover it or get rid of it - otherwise they'll be bullied and shamed too.
Reading through the vile comments on Millie's Instagram post took me back to a few weeks ago when I got my legs out on a sunny day and, on my walk to get a sandwich at lunchtime, I realised that during my frantic leg-shaving morning shower session I'd missed a tiny patch of fuzz on the back of my calf.
You would not even begin to understand how ashamed and embarrassed I felt at that point. I rushed to Boots and bought some tweezers, headed back to the office (as it was a workday) and plucked out those stragglers before anyone would notice.
Why did I feel so compelled to remove those hairs? Because I've spent years being subliminally told by society and the media that body hair on women is unacceptable. And body-shaming comments from trolls only reinforce just how "disgusting" this body hair apparently is.
I felt ashamed of my leg hair. But *NEWS FLASH* it's a perfectly normal thing. If we didn't need it, we wouldn't have it. It's sad that I didn't see it this way at the time, I should have bore those hairs with pride.
There's not much I can do about the past, but going forward, I wish for more celebrities and well-known figures to endorse and normalise female body hair.
I wish people would stop Photoshopping body hair out of photos of women, selling unrealistic (and sometimes damaging) beauty expectations to others.
And, finally, I wish for women to feel empowered to have hair or to have no hair, without fear of judgement or being harassed.
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