Double standards: I am disappointed that there seems to be more societal pressure for Singhs to keep their kesh than there is on Kaurs to keep theirs. I met a Sikh family which had a teenage son and daughter. The parents praised their son for his turban and beard but scolded their daughter any time she let her leg hair grow out and told her to go and shave.

The hypocrisy is ridiculous.

“Be strong Sikh women!” Many families say, while handing their daughter a razor. Such actions have mixed messages. “Self mutilate yourself by shaving so you can conform to artificial, transient standards of beauty. Give up your ability to choose your own grooming habits and give control over your body to society and the media. But don’t forget! Be a strong Sikh woman!”

By Baljinder Kaur

Why does Sikhi discourage shaving?

Here are my thoughts.

1. By not shaving, I am accepting myself completely and can create a mindset that is ripe for spiritual growth. Also, once I truly love myself, I can love and serve others.

2. I am eliminating duality in my mind that may come with shaving; that Waheguru made me perfect but somehow I am not perfect and thus must shave. Bringing my thoughts and actions in line with each other can help establish inner peace.

3. In a way, by accepting my body, I am accepting nature and hukham: another way to become at peace with the world and Waheguru’s cosmos.

4. I follow the standards that my Gurus have established for me: guidelines that I believe to be timeless in spirit and essence. I am beautiful inside and out, according to gurbani.

No socially constructed standard of beauty based on making profits (shaving and razors) will guide my life. I am establishing my sovereignty over the ever-shifting, arbitrary standards that society creates.

As Albert Camus said, “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

5. Lastly, I believe that one shapes her body in a way that will help her accomplish life tasks. For example a basketball player wears shorts and a jersey to increase mobility, Lady Gaga wears crazy outfits to get attention, a businesswoman wears a suit to demand respect. If one wishes to be successful in the material world, she dresses and acts accordingly. In my opinion, it is the same in the spiritual or Sikh world. I wish to attain enlightenment and love creation, thus I will dress and act accordingly and everything I do will be line with that mission.

Read Part 5: Revisiting Shaving Questions 

By Lakhpreet Kaur