“Why MAC’s recent Instagram post is a triumph for hairy women like me”

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Hanna Ibraheem
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Stylist’s beauty writer Hanna Ibraheem explains why MAC’s decision to forego airbrushing is exactly what our Instagram feeds need right now.

As a beauty lover, you can imagine what my Instagram feed looks like. Just a quick scroll shows me a handful of flawless selfies, close-ups of airbrushed pouts showing off lip art and long, smooth fingers showcasing the latest nail trends. 

While I’m well aware of how ridiculous heavy-handed FaceTuning can look, I didn’t even realise that I had curated a feed that constantly shoves unrealistic, highly-filtered and manipulated images in my face every time I pick up my phone. That was, until I saw something that cut through the noise.

A few days ago, global beauty giant MAC Cosmetics posted a picture to its 19.2 million Instagram followers that caused a bit of a stir. The image featured a lip pencil being applied to a woman’s lips. So far, so normal. Except, when you look at the picture properly, you realise that the woman in the picture has facial hair.

Yes, she has a hairy upper lip. And surprise, surprise, some people lost their sh*t.

“Couldn’t MAC pay for her waxing? Don’t do her like that!!” wrote one user, while another added, “OMG what about the small hair or the mustache [sic] on her mouth”.

Reading these comments highlighted just how distorted society’s perception of normal beauty really is. For me, the image was a refreshing and much-needed change to the hairless and, frankly, texture-free complexions I had become acclimatised to seeing on my Instagram feed. Especially when, as I child, I struggled with facial hair.

Growing up, I developed facial hair a lot quicker than my school friends. On top of this, being Asian meant that my hair was dark and more visible than my blonde peers.

I grew a moustache quicker than my older brother and an argument with a school friend once ended with her putting her index finger across her upper lip to take the piss out my facial hair. Yep, kids can be cruel. 

Hanna, aged 7, and her older brother

Understandably (and thankfully), my mum didn’t let me wax my upper lip until I was an appropriate age but even after I did, I went through my teen years believing that being hairless was beautiful. When in actual fact, what’s truly beautiful is a woman who is just comfortable in her skin.

Unfortunately, I didn’t come to this realisation until I was a lot older, but MAC making a move like this is what is needed to help young girls get a step closer to that kind of self-acceptance quicker than I did.

The fact that anybody could be against a major make-up brand embracing something that is entirely normal beggars belief. If I had seen a picture like this as a teenager, it would’ve filled me with so much comfort to see an image that represented me. Particularly when today’s state of Instagram is a sea of filtered photos gives us with a warped perception of what real skin looks like. 

As I scroll through the comments on the picture, it’s heartening to see that there are actually more positive comments than negative, proving that there are more women who experience facial hair than those who don’t. Also, it shows we all desperately crave a sense of normality when we pick up our phones.

Bravo, MAC. Here’s hoping other brands follow suit…

Images: Hanna Ibraheem/Getty