4 Nigerian Women On Dealing With Body Hair And Self-image

August 21, 2021

To shave or not to shave? You might not be able to relate, but dealing with body hair is a struggle for many women. Society has created certain standards of beauty which women must follow or risk being seen as ‘odd’. One of these standards is hairlessness, especially on the legs and pubic region.

While some people have a kink for hair on women, and couldn’t be bothered if they shaved or not, it’s still an issue. So I got to hear from 4 women and how this affects their overall body image.

Ada, 23

I’ve always had hair especially on my legs, that’s where it’s the most prominent besides my head. When I was a teenager, I wasn’t so comfortable with it because it felt like such a masculine thing. Although, so far, no one has had issues with it and I’m good now. The part that makes me self conscious is the hair under my chin and neck. It’s one of the first things people notice about me when they look at my face. As a result, I pluck it a lot and this leaves spots there. I also have hair on my legs, hands, a slight mustache, and I just recently noticed it on my boobs too. When people stare, I stare back at them eyeball to eyeball till they become uncomfortable. The whole thing is just like the weight or body type argument; once you don’t fit into the stereotype, then something is wrong with you.

Beatrice, 22

I didn’t really know being hairy was anything strange or different until boarding school. A female classmate, felt the need to keep pointing it out. She told me I was very beautiful, but the way to get boys to follow me was to shave my legs and my brows. Then there was the aunt that would always pull the hair on my legs whenever she came around and ask why I have hair on my legs like a man. A crush has said that to me too. One of my cousins also felt the need to tell me that I have a moustache. After that, I started shaving my upper lip. I saw myself. I can see myself. Why then do you feel the need to point out these things to me? I felt very uncomfortable in my body. My self esteem was in the pits.

The hair on my nipples and chest are there too -thick and dark but sparse. When I want to go and fornicate I shave it off. This is just because I don’t want comments on it. I really do not care if you like it, I just don’t want you to talk about it at all. I keep thinking I could be a lot more beautiful if I didn’t have to deal with all this hair.

Shaving comes with it’s own challenges – ingrown hair, darks spots, bumps, fast hair growth and stinging when showering. Especially because my hair is very coarse and spiky when it’s growing back. Waxing is too expensive and painful. Creams tend to irritate the skin and shaving sticks are not smooth to the touch. That’s not all, there’s the butt hair and the fact that when I shave, I get rashes from sitting for too long.

I really wish I didn’t have to deal with this because it very stressful. It still makes me feel quite awkward and I get worried that people can see the hair growing back. Sometimes, when I’m having sex, I can’t help but think if they can notice it. Why can’t I just be normal? I can’t even go swimming in a bikini. To make it worse, I started growing chin hair recently and I cried the first time I saw it because I am already dealing with a lot.

My mum keeps talking about how beautiful I am and how people will see me and admire my hair. While that is nice, I do not want it. I wish there is a way to actually get rid of everything. It’s just very exhausting. I wish it wasn’t a thing at all.

Shayo, 23

I remember when I was in primary school, my hairy friend was the most beautiful girl. She had very full eye brows, hairy legs and long, full head of hair. There was a day we went out together and someone called her and said, “please don’t ever shave your brows. It’s so beautiful.” Thirteen years later when I saw her, she had shaved it. Lol.

Bukky, 24

Two things I like about being hairy are my brows and lashes. People usually comment on how full, thick, luxurious and well-defined they are. Before now, I used to struggle a lot with accepting this part of me and wish all the hair will be transferred to my receding hairline (which is hereditary by the way) instead.It took me a long ass journey of self-acceptance and growth to confidently start wearing shorts outside my room. Back in secondary school, I wanted smooth legs like the girls in my class, not understanding that we’re all wired differently. So I shaved my legs and believe me, it started growing thicker and faster after each shave to my dismay. Some people say this is a myth though. Forward to the present, I don’t shave often or care so much about the stares I get from people anymore. I’m not really about that trying to ‘fit in’ life anymore.

Now, I only shave when I actually want to. Just for a few days of smoothness and feeling like a bad bitch. Who says I can’t rock both right? Thankfully, the partners I’ve been with don’t mind. They even find it beautiful. Good for them, because I’m not about to kill myself trying to fulfill someone else’s idea of what a woman should look or feel like.

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

June 30, 2021

The subject of today’s What-She-Said is a 22-year-old woman who was ambitious out of spite for her primary school classmates. She talks about her brother wanting to kill her when they were both children, being bullied in primary school and finally finding community with herself this year.  What’s your earliest memory of your childhood? It […]

March 11, 2021

As told to Hassan. A couple of weeks ago, I overheard a doctor talking to an ex-patient. The tenderness in the doctor’s voice piqued my curiosity. During the course of the conversation, he sounded incredulous because someone had died. For someone so used to death and dying, the doctor was visibly shaken. A few prodding […]


Now on Zikoko

Recommended Quizzes

June 14, 2020

Have you ever been with someone so horrible that you swore to never date again? Yes? Well, do you know that one or more of your exes probably feels the same way about you? You never thought about that, huh? Thankfully, this quiz is here to let you know just how much of a hassle […]

December 5, 2019

We already tried to guess how much you have in your account and your current net worth, and we think we did a pretty great job (keep any complaints to yourself). Now, we’re going to try and guess your monthly salary based on your relationship with money. Oya, take the quiz: 11 Timed Quizzes For […]

November 1, 2019

Twitter is buzzing right now, bringing a new conversation to the concept of cool vs not-so-cool, especially in relationships. If you’ve been thinking about how much of a red flag you are, why don’t you let this quiz help you decide once and for all?

More from Her

September 25, 2022

Simi and Taofeeqat became best friends in SS2. Before adulthood came between them, they gave each other cheesy love letters and long hugs. In this #LettertoHER, Simi wants Taofeeqat to know she misses her.

September 20, 2022

If your partner spent so much time in your home that it felt like they lived there, moving on can be tougher. So what happens when you can’t afford to move out to move on from the memories of your partner? 7 Nigerians who’ve been heartbroken shared their experience.

What She Said: I’ll Run For Office in 2027
September 14, 2022

Nafisa Atiku-Adejuwon talks about experiencing politics in secondary school, choosing public service over a legal career and finding purpose in helping young women enter politics through “Girls Just Want to Run”.

September 11, 2022

“In everything I wanted to do, my grandma always told me to go for it, even if I wanted to fly to the moon. She never made any of my dreams seem unachievable.”

In this personal essay, Dammy talks about her grandmother, who was also her best friend. #GrandparentsDay

What She Said: Feminism Led Me to Atheism
August 31, 2022

This week’s #ZikokoWhatSheSaid subject is a 23-year-old Nigerian woman. She tells us about discovering her feminism, pansexuality and atheism through books while living with her close-knit conservative family.


Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

September 13, 2022
Vs The World is a Zikoko original video series that follows best friends Astor and Hassan as they take on the world.
August 23, 2022
Zikoko Ships is a Zikoko Original series where we invite two people who share a relationship to play the Zikoko card games
December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.