A woman has learned to love her body hair – no matter how many times trolls brand her “disgusting”.
Macey Duff, 19, used to feel self conscious about her natural fuzz.
She started shaving at 10 in a bid to achieve smooth skin, but has since ditched the razor to embrace her natural beauty.
The dancer, from Nevada, US, said: “I started shaving around the age of ten. For what reason? Just because all the women around me did it, being taught it was what women should do.
“I would shave any time hair began to grow; I was fearful of anyone even slightly glancing at my armpits, legs and bikini line if I had any visible stubble. I struggled with accepting myself.
“With every cut and razor burn from the repetitive motion of swiping away, I was silently despising myself for not being who they wanted me to be – I was angry and frustrated with these conditions.”
For six years, Macey carried out this hair removal ritual.
But her life changed in 2016 when she moved to Hawaii with her family.
After settling down in the new location, her sister Ally spotted a woman baring her body hair on the beach.
Macey recalled: “My sister witnessed a woman in a one-piece swimming suit with thick hairy legs, armpits, and obvious pubic hair growing with confidence and at the beach.
“I felt empowered just hearing about it, although I didn’t witness it personally.”
This, paired with the fact that more women were flaunting their fuzz on social media, inspired Macey to swerve shaving.
She said: “I saw a woman on Insta soon after and she had a photo of herself featuring her leg hair that was dark and apparent.
“My world shook when I witnessed a woman with body hair for the first time.
“I could not even describe the relief I felt knowing that there were women out there defying the standards placed for us to appeal to public eye as ‘beautiful’ and ‘sexy’ – even ‘worthy’.”
After realising that cosmetic grooming isn’t necessary, Macey decided to grow out her own hair.
At first, the teen was self conscious about her hair.
But after a while, she got used to it – and learned to ignore what others think of her appearance.
Macey said: “I felt inspired and soon experimented with growing out my own body hair. I love it. It was frightening to say the least.
“Lifting my armpits in public at first was scary.
“The stubble was uncomfortable during the first few weeks, yet I can hardly even remember that period because now my hair is long and soft.”
Macey says growing her body hair out has felt liberating – and her family has supported her too.
Despite this, she has faced cruel comments from strangers and online trolls.
The teen said: “I had a complete stranger walk by me, stop in front of me, and verbally express their disgust with my body hair.
“UGH, leg hair’, they said. I simply smiled and giggled at their audacity, it felt even more empowering witnessing the affect it can have.
“I have had people directly point at me and whisper over to the group/person they are with, gawking and laughing at me.
“I have had words like ‘you should’ve been thrown away in the trash’, ‘too ugly’ and ‘too disgusting’ to ever have a partner.”
The mean jibes reached their peak when one of Macey’s pictures went viral on Facebook.
Initially, she found the experience “sad” and “confusing”.
But after a while, she realised it was a way to get her message out on social media.
Macey remarked: “At first I felt sad. I felt confused. But I had an epiphany, and I realised that although their words were painful, I was planting seeds.
“Overall I feel grateful and blessed that this image was shared so widely.”
The teen added that she’s not bothered by trolls because it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
She said: ”I’ve dealt with mean words through the comfort of being myself and honouring myself for allowing my body to be as it is because I know I am worthy and beautiful, beyond my physicality.”