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Esther Calixte-Bea, a Canadian painter and body hair activist is making headlines for her appearance on the cover of the January issue of Glamour U.K.
The Longueuil, Que. native was one of 10 women chosen to appear in the magazine’s annual Self-Love issue, which celebrates beauty and bodies that challenge “outdated” or “taboo” beauty standards.
Calixte-Bea, also known as “Queen Esie” online, has built a social media following after embracing her chest and leg hair. In Dec. 2019, Calixte-Bea published the Lavender Project, a series of self-portraits which “questions what makes a female body feminine and why is body hair that naturally grows on mature human bodies seen as not normal.”
In an interview with CTV News, Calixte-Bea said she was “happy and excited” to appear in Glamour’s inspirational issue. The artist revealed she began growing chest hair when she was 11-years-old and felt she had to remove it for her elementary school graduation.
“I realized I was different from other people because I was very, very hairy compared to other girls,” Calixte-Bea said. “I was struggling with that. In high school, I was always hiding it, even in college and university.”
Years of insecurity began impacting Calixte-Bea’s mental health which lead to a “dark moment” where she knew she had to do the self-work to embrace her body hair. In the Self-Love issue, she credits prayer and self-work with helping her “unlearn the detrimental ideas” that made her feel as though her body hair was something that wasn’t feminine and needed to be hidden or removed.
Through painting and the Lavender Project, Calixte-Bea has “gotten used to” her body hair and has set out on a personal and artistic mission to normalize body hair and redefine femininity. She uses the personal mantra “we wear our body hair with class” to help reframe her relationship with her body and body hair.
Although she admits she was “nervous” to share photos of her body hair, Calixte-Bea said she has received messages from women from around the world messaging her to thank her.
“Telling me, 'Oh my gosh. I thought I was all alone. I have chest hair as well,’” she said. “I've gotten hundreds of messages and we all think we're alone.”
Calixte-Bea’s social media accounts only feature photos of herself with body hair and in May 2020, she chose to stop shaving after her body began negatively reacting to hair removal.
"Ever since then I haven't removed any hair on my body.I really felt it was important to question myself because as women we're taught it's not normal to have body hair,” she said. “Now, it's bigger than me and I'm inspiring people from all around the world and I can't go back now.”
Calixte-Bea has a YouTube channel, “Queen Esie's Diary of a Hairy Woman” where she shares her self-love journey and offers advice to other people who may be struggling. Her work now only features women with body hair to help normalize this once “taboo” expression of beauty.
“What's really important for me is to show that with body hair you can still be beautiful and you can make it look beautiful,” she said.