Meet Esther Calixte-Bea who is on a mission to normalise chest hair: ‘I accepted my appearance and embraced it’

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Recently, a woman from Kerala went viral for flaunting her moustache and triggering a conversation about body positivity and hair on female bodies.

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Around the world, pop culture has led many people into believing that the female body is devoid of any hair, barring on the scalp. The existence of hair anywhere else has a negative connotation and, therefore, is associated with ‘shame’.

To then have people — celebs and non-celebs alike — start a discourse on positive body image apropos of hair on the body, is a welcome change. Twenty-five-year-old Esther Calixte-Bea is one of them. For a while now, Esther has been promoting self-love on social media, by documenting, among other things, her chest hair.

Her Instagram bio states that she is a “body hair activist”. According to an indy100.com report, Esther allowed body hair to grow on her chest, because she “hated to shave”. Now, she is reclaiming what it means to be beautiful and proud.

While Esther — who goes by the name ‘Queen Esie’ on social media — was insecure about her body for the longest time, she realised what beauty standards mean for women and how they are constantly changing, depending on where one is in the world. Per the publication, this change in her thought process happened when she visited Haiti in 2019.

The visual artist from Montreal, Canada, was quoted as saying, “I became way less self-conscious when I learned this information and I realised I could choose for myself and couldn’t wait for society to validate my body and my appearance.”

After that, she created something called the ‘Lavender Project’, which is a “self-photography project”. Through it, she told the world that she has chest hair, and that she is not going to do anything about it. A boost to her self-esteem, it was the first time many of her friends and family members learnt of it, too.

In July this year, she took to social media to celebrate the third anniversary of Lavender Project, writing that she made a “lavender-coloured dress showing [her] chest hair for the very first time”. “I had hid it for years because I was ashamed, scared and simply hated myself. I wanted to be ‘normal’ like every other girl that surrounded me, I wanted to fit the standard and feel beautiful, because I looked like how I was told a desirable woman should look like,” she shared in a long post, which ran alongside one of her pictures in a lavender dress, her chest hair visible in all its glory.

“One day, I realised I had enough of hating myself, of crying when I saw my body covered in hair and the fact that I was getting hairier the more I removed it. It was draining and depressing,” Esther continued.

She liberated herself “by creating a project that challenged the taboo of female body hair and femininity”. “I accepted my appearance and embraced it, creating a motto ‘Power: We wear our body hair with class’, telling the world that female body hair can be beautiful, that a woman can have hairy legs, hairy arms, hairy pits, chest hair, a beard, unibrow and more, and be beautiful.”

Esther wrote that she “chose to redefine beauty for [herself] against all myths that body hair was ugly and unhygienic”, just because she is a woman. “I chose myself and have been a proud hairy woman ever since… Normalising female body hair is about removing the shame no matter if you have a hormonal disorder or not. Humans have body hair and no one should be ashamed of it,” she concluded.

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