“I'm tired of seeing women being put in a position of helplessness with their bodies."
Texas girl Suraiya Ali has bravely borne the torch of female expression by posting a picture of herself with full body hair online.
The image, which Ali uploaded to her Twitter page on December 24, 2015, shows her lying on a bed wearing grey underwear and a t-shirt.
While Ali captioned the photo with ‘Walmart underwear vibes’, many of her 11,900 followers picked up on the noticeable display of body hair on her thighs and stomach area.
The tweet led to Suraiya being trolled by many on the social media platform with some followers commenting ‘gross’, ‘chewbacca’ and ‘shave pls’.
@iranikanjari maybe instead of buying walmart underwear you should buy a razor
— Harry• (@ManIikeJuan) December 29, 2015
But amidst all the negative backlash of trolls, the American Desi has received many positive comments from women from all backgrounds, who have praised her bravery in posting such a personal image to the digital world.
Many have defended her against the negativity, stating that Ali is simply showing off what all women have – natural body hair.
@iranikanjari notice how the only people being mean I'm the replies are men. And men wonder why women think most men are disgusting.
— justine (@cihaim) January 3, 2016
@iranikanjari and tbh this pic made me so happy to see b/c 1) I'm hairy and 2) there are sooo few ppl out here saying it's okay to be hairy!
— marty j (@martyjif) January 5, 2016
One Twitter commenter, @sashemjay wrote: “You can’t even imagine how happy it makes me to actually see a picture of a tummy that. is. actually. like. mine.”
Another Tweeter, @cosmokass said: “So mad I grew up ashamed of my body hair. We need more women like this that love themselves for young women to look up to.”
@octaviasgriffin added: “Body goals! I wish I was confident like you.”
Suraiya later responded: “Thank you to everyone who’s being super sweet. I’m a nerd, so I don’t know why I deserve all this attention, but I’m gonna take it!”
With so many retweets and comments, Ali has quickly become an online role model for men and women by exposing perceptions around body image that the media continues to uphold.
Speaking to i100, Ali explains: “For any hate I received I got the same amount of love back. And that’s what made it totally worth it.
“I think women should just do what they want. No one should dictate what we embrace. If women want to embrace shaving, then shave, if they want to embrace being hairy – awesome.”
Ali highlights how many women find themselves uncomfortable in their own skin because of what they see on TV or in fashion magazines.
By celebrating the naturalness of women, Ali hopes that some insecurities that normal women have, particularly ethnic women, can be alleviated:
“I’m tired of constantly seeing women being put in a position of helplessness with their bodies. The narrative belongs to us, and so do the choices we make within the narrative,” she adds.
Ali also hopes that such images can alter perceptions of female body image for men as well as women.
Being from an Asian background, issues of uncontrollable body hair are not uncommon, and many Desi women find themselves constantly battling unwanted body and facial hair in front of the mirror.
Suraiya Ali believes that more men and women can feel confident in their own skin, whatever the ethnicity or genetic makeup:
“I love being a desi/caucasian shia yo!” she tweets.