For Years She Was Self-Conscious and Shaved Her Body Hair Down to Scars. Now She Proudly Looks From the Covers of Magazines to Her Haters
Every year, more and more women are ditching the razor and embracing their bodies in their natural state. Among these advocates is Esther Calixte-Bea, a body-positive activist who has given up waxing and proudly displays her chest hair. This artist serves as an admirable role model, convincing others that female body hair is not only commonplace, but also exudes elegance.
The path to self-acceptance
Esther Calixte-Béa, a Montreal-based body hair activist of Haitian and Ivorian heritage, inherited a distinctive appearance from her ancestors. From a young age, this unique appearance made her feel different, particularly due to her extreme thinness and abundant body hair, which set her apart from her peers.
According to Esther, her main challenge during her school years was not so much her physique, but the abundance of body hair, which led to a deep dislike of herself. Despite the daily affirmations her mother taught her — “I’m pretty, I’m smart and I’m beautiful” — they didn’t seem to be enough to alleviate her distress. In an effort to alleviate her embarrassment and gain more self-confidence, every method available to combat unwanted hair was explored.
«I was removing my body hair. It is a painful memory»
Esther’s battle with body hair began when she was just 11 years old. Early on, she noticed an abundance of hair on her chest, in contrast to her peers. Before leaving primary school, she decided to buy a razor so she could wear a dress without feeling ashamed.
According to the body hair activist herself, routine waxing not only proved ineffective, but also provoked adverse reactions from her body: “I ended up with horrible scars, thicker, darker hair growth and pain.” Despite this, her family members persisted, arguing that beauty requires sacrifice and insisting on the need to shave regularly in order to feel beautiful.
The fact that her fight against body hair did not produce the desired results, made Esther feel depressed. Once at university, she gave up on the tedious shaving and decided to simply hide her problem under lots of clothing: “I stopped trying to remove my chest hair simply kept it hidden, lifting up my shirt if it was too low and using every precaution to make sure that no one would see it”.
A woman confident in her beauty
To prevent her depression from getting worse, Esther came to a realisation: she had two choices. The first was to continue to criticise herself, and the second was to change her perspective on the situation and accept herself with all the unique features that nature had given her.
She soon understood that her insecurities and dislike of every hairy aspect of her body didn’t really come from within, but were influenced by societal pressures. She believes that society forces women to remove body hair, holding them to a narrow, stereotypical standard: “Women are taught that having body hair is not considered normal.”
The newly-made body-hair activist decided to declare her attitude to female beauty through art. As a professional artist, Esther saw no better solution than to speak to the public through her art.
The purpose of her public appearances
Esther Calixte-Bea initiated her own Lavender Project as a means of expressing her thoughts and breaking taboos surrounding female body hair. Creating a reversible lavender dress, the artist designed a garment that concealed her body hair on one side and boldly revealed it on the other. Dressed in this handmade garment, she staged an elaborate photo session, striking various poses to demonstrate her poise and confidence.
Instagram became the ideal platform for Esther to use images to make a bold statement about herself and her relationship with her body hair. She shared a series of photos from her shoot on the social network, sparking a conversation with her audience and giving them a chance to share their experiences too.
In an interview, Esther admits that she has never had a selfish agenda behind her project, nor has she consciously tried to capture the audience’s attention and gain popularity, which has come to her after a series of successful posts. The huge response from her fans is merely proof, that she is not alone in this problem.
In 2021, Esther debuted on the cover of Glamour UK’s January issue, which was all about self-acceptance. For the activist, it was a real personal breakthrough. She realized, that she has been able to shift public opinion and break social stereotypes about female body hair: “I’m really proud of the cover”.
Since 2019, Esther has been proudly displaying her body hair, and is adamant that she has embraced it wholeheartedly: “My hairiness is part of me.” However, it was only last autumn that she dared to wear a bikini and go to the beach. In September 2022, she finally overcame this personal barrier.
According to Esther, the moment she unveiled herself on the beach, she felt judgmental looks, but decided to respond with a genuine smile and a wave. This crucial step allowed her to become more in tune with her body and to feel a sense of freedom she had never experienced before.
You can spend your whole life in beauty salons or queuing up for plastic surgery in search of the perfect look. But when we look at the heroine of this article, we realise that there is another way. The way of accepting yourself, with all the idiosyncrasies of your appearance. And this choice seems to us to be the most harmonious.