In questioning this feminine standard of beauty through colored facial hair, Upin has embraced her own insecurities. In middle school, the TIkTok creator was self-conscious of her mustache and was bullied by her classmates for the “unfeminine” and “undesirable” look. (A reminder: Body hair, including facial hair, is completely natural for people of all genders to have.) Until junior year of high school, Upin has waxed, bleached, and even Nair’d her upper lip to fit in with her classmates.
Now a student at Duke University, Upin has taken to TikTok to empower other people to embrace their mustaches. And it seems to have resonated with viewers as Upin has amassed over 28,000 followers since May 2020 and over a million likes across her mustache-dying videos. (She only has 36 videos on her TikTok page as of early November.)
While Upin says many people have been receptive to her mustache-dyeing (her parents’ only request is that she keeps the dye from staining the bathroom tile), others have criticized her or were quick to offer methods of removal for her colorful ‘staches. But, Upin is dedicated to normalizing facial and body hair on people of all genders and deconstructing the notion that women with this type of hair is “unhygienic” and “disgusting.”
“It’s not that women don’t grow mustaches. It’s that most women get busy removing or concealing them. So, the expectation is that they don’t exist unless you have a hormonal imbalance,” Upin explains. “I’m breaking the stigma that women don’t grow mustaches by posting videos and dyeing mine different colors. Facial hair is natural, with or without a hormone imbalance. Regardless of whether or not women decide to remove their facial or body hair, the choice should be made on an individual level, not a societal one.”
And while Upin leads the charge of body hair acceptance on TikTok, she’s not the only one pushing for a greater acceptance of this completely natural phenomenon. Celebrities like Emily Ratajowski, Yara Shahidi, and Cardi B (to name just a few) have all taken a stand against shaming someone’s body hair — and aren’t afraid to show off their own.
“Gender expression is a spectrum and nobody needs to conform to notions of masculinity or femininity regardless of their identity,” Upin said. “Do what makes you comfortable and confident, and don’t feel a need to conform to any opinions that aren’t your own.”
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