It’s Not Me, It’s You
The most insecure that I felt with my body was when I was 11 years old. As my body was changing into a young woman, my mind and feelings remain innocent. I didn’t know how to protect my confidence from bullies or unfavorable opinions because I never had to until I was 11. The other 6th grade girls didn’t wear training bras anymore and had a fuller bum, but that didn’t matter to me. I was jealous of their pretty hairless arms.
My father is covered in thick-curly-dark hair from his chest, to stomach, to arms, hands, legs, back, toes, and even his ears. I’ve always been mad at him for giving me his hairy genetics but my mother has been telling me, since I was five, that having hair on your arms means you will have a easy life. I have always believed her until I entered middle school.
My middle school didn’t have central air condition so it was usually humid during the warmer months. Because of that, I would always wear short sleeve shirts. This boy, who we will call Keith, came up to me for the first time during recess near the playground. “Why do you have so much hair on your arms? You have more than me and I’m a boy. Look,” he said as he puts his right arm and my left arm side by side. I shrugged my shoulders to tell him that I didn’t know why I do. Then another boy, who we will call Anthony, chimed in and teasingly said, “Yeah, you have hairy arms. You’re more of a man than me,” which made the other childish boys and girls giggle. Their echoing laughter shattered my heart and self-esteem. I felt the tears in my eyes begin to creep up so I flusteredly hid away. This was the first time that I was embarrassed of my own body.
That day scarred me for months. It was the only thing that the boys would point out about me in 6th grade. I became so self-conscious that I wore long sleeve sweaters for the rest of the year, even during the hottest school days. As June came around, another traumatic incident happened again. I sat at a desk with my best friend. A table away sat Keith and Anthony. It was my last class in the most sweltering room of the building. The air was grilling us as we sat in the classroom. All the boys and girls had short sleeves shirts on but me. “Can you take your fricken jacket off, you’re making me even hotter just by looking at you,” Anthony mocked towards me. Everyone turned their heads like an owl spotting a baby mouse. My best friend followed, “Yeah, it’s too hot to be wearing that.”
I didn’t know what to say and I didn’t know what to do but my body decided to take off the sweater. Then Keith chuckled, “She wanted to hide her hairy arms,” which made some kids laugh as usual. I looked at my arms with hatred eyes and buried them under the desk. I leaned in, pushing them further under so nobody, including myself, can see the disgraceful hair.
For years, hurtful names have been ruminating subconsciously whenever I run my hands along my arms. Hairy, hairy girl, little boy, monkey, ape, and Chewbacca. I didn’t even know who or what a Chewbacca was until someone called me it. That one stung the most. After a while, it became an old joke and people left me alone. Once in a blue moon, someone would intrusively comment, “You have hairy arms,” and I would bluntly reply, “You think I didn’t know that already? I get it from my dad,” and walk away. I slowly stopped caring even though my self-esteem was shattered like an iPhone screen.
Entering high school was a door made and held opened by a butler for me. No one knows you and you know no one else, except your best friend of course. As a freshman, I expected everyone to be more mature and not make insulting comments about my body. And thankfully, I was right. Instead of remarks on my hairy arms, I’ve been receiving compliments just about me. People have been telling me left and right that I’m pretty, gorgeous, perfect, cute, etc. High school was the strongest glue that fixed my broken pieces.
My arms isn’t going to kill me or others, and it rather became an idea of luck in my mind. I learned to be grateful for my working body and that it is just hair. It also made me realize that not everyone gets the opportunity to change their perspectives about themselves. Sometimes the insecurities continue to haunt you for many years of your life. In some cases, insecurities don’t develop until you’re older because that’s when you start to care. What people fail to realize is that you are not the problem, it’s the people around you. At sixteen, I can say that I love myself in every way, shape, or form and nobody can tell me otherwise anymore.