For Desi women who grew up in mostly white schools, that story might be uncomfortably familiar. Young South Asians say their elementary and middle school years were characterized by a dominating feature: hair. Everywhere. Bushy unibrows, thick leg hair, upper lip fuzz and coarse locks made them feel othered — and ugly — when they were 12.
As conversations about beauty, self-love and internalized racism come to the forefront, brown women are confronting what that did to them. White society set the standard that their body hair and face hair wasn’t beautiful, Desi women say. And after years of promoting plucking, shaving and threading, the beauty industry put bushy eyebrows back on trend. Exhausted by being beholden to a standard that disregards them, Desi women say they have no choice but to define beauty on their own terms.