Esther Calixte-Bea was 11 when she learned she might have too much body hair.
She was a shy kid, growing up in Montreal, and puberty had hit her hard. She had hair on her arms and legs, her sideburns were filling in, she even was growing hair across her chest. Her mom made her first waxing appointment before she finished the sixth grade.
“It was horrible. It was so hot,” Calixte-Bea said. But “I just knew because of my mom, because of everything, how everyone looked, I knew that women had to shave or remove their body hair. And that was just the norm.”
Beauty can feel like one big scam. Globally, it’s a $532 billion industry, with standards that are always moving and almost always feel unattainable. But from a young age, we are told that to be accepted, to be desirable, you have to spend money and time. And if you don’t, then, well, you’ll pay in a much different way.
For Calixte-Bea, the price of fitting in and later getting her modeling career off the ground was electrolysis, an expensive and time-consuming hair removal procedure. At one point, Calixte-Bea was paying for the treatments out of her student loans.
“To me, all that money that I spend, that’s part of life,” she said. “That’s what I was programmed to do or train to do, what I had to do as a woman.”
On this week’s show, we’ll follow Calixte-Bea as she tries to fit in and eventually reaches her breaking point. And Reema Khrais reflects on her own struggles with costly hair removal.
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“This Is Uncomfortable” is Reema Khrais, Megan Detrie, Hayley Hershman, Peter Balonon-Rosen, Camila Kerwin and Marque Greene.
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