“Their dismay is an opportunity to touch my face”

I grew up in a small Texas city, where my white peers called me a monkey. They told me that Indians grow our body hair earlier because we are closer to animals. I grew my first mustache at 11; I did not smile in photographs for years after. My desire to shave was not about wanting to become a man. It was about wanting to become white.

Now, at age 22, I sit in my Brooklyn apartment reading a New York Post story about how men in this city are paying up to $8,500 to obtain facial hair transplants to make their beards appear thicker. The article doesn’t mention race. But the first image that comes to mind is the white boys who taunted me growing up. Then, my dad told me, “One day they are going to be jealous of you.” I refused to believe him until now.

My generation inherited both our beards and our brownness in a post-9/11 era. We experienced a silent war — one that did not make it on the news — in the classrooms, the subways, the airports where we found ourselves under a new type of scrutiny. The brown on our skin: a new flavor of lethal. Its beard, even more of a threat. This is a story for all of the brown boys who shaved, who plucked, who went under laser and knife to emerge American.

Read More | “To Body Mod Away From Brownness And Back” | Alok Vaid-Menon | Buzzfeed