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Woman Claps Back After Her Brother-In-Law Berates Her For Not Shaving Above Her Knees

Helen Barth/Unsplash

It’s 2022, and women having body hair is more acceptable than it used to be.

But for some, it’s as repulsive as it ever was, cringed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor hortenhearsawho1 was taken aback when her brother-in-law berated her for not shaving her legs above the knee, which he only discovered when her skirt accidentally rode up.

When he went to the bathroom to work out his feelings, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she was wrong to confront him in return.

She asked the sub:

“AITA for my response to my brother-in-law’s comment about my leg hair?”

The OP was surprised at an interaction she had with her brother-in-law (BIL).

“My (19 female) sister (28 female) and brother-in-law (BIL) came over with their kids for dinner at my parents’ house.”

“I was watching my nieces while dinner was getting ready, we sat down at the dinner table, and I happened to sit next to my brother-in-law.”

“I was wearing a skirt, and it was accidentally lifted above my knee.”

“My brother-in-law looked down at my leg under the table, made a face, and then loudly said, ‘Oh shoot, OP! This is gross, you should’ve shaved, that hair isn’t supposed to be there.'”

The OP confronted her brother-in-law in return.

“Everyone stared, and I asked him, ‘If it’s not supposed to be there, then why does it grow there, can you explain?'”

“He was like, ‘It’s just not supposed to be there.'”

“I pointed at his mustache and said, ‘Well, I guess the same thing can be said about your little mustache then, huh?'”

“He looked at me, eyes wide open. Awkward silence took over, though some laughed.”

“My sister told me to knock it off as my brother-in-law got up from his chair and went inside the bathroom.”

“My sister followed and I could hear him having a breakdown, asking her if there was something wrong with his mustache.”

“My brother and I kept giggling, but dinner got cut short because my brother-in-law wanted to leave.”

The OP’s sister later confronted her.

“I later got scolded by my sister, saying I stepped over the line and disrespected someone who’s older than me, who’s also her husband.”

“She also told me the reason my brother-in-law got so offended was that he considers his mustache to be a symbol of his ‘manhood.’ So I insulted his ‘manhood,’ not just made a ‘backhanded comment.'”

“She said I psychologically harmed him and should apologize for it, but I’m not sure if this would fix anything except for how he feels about his mustachy mustache.”

“But she demanded I apologize to him for insulting him and ruining dinner.”


Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some wanted to call the BIL out on his misogynistic priorities.

“Anyone who says leg hair ‘isn’t supposed to be there’ as a method of shaming women into complying with ridiculous beauty standards is always, always the AH.”

“NTA. I bet his mustache looks ridiculous.” – chaosandpuppies

“This is a guy who throws up and/or gets ragingly angry when his pubescent daughter fails to actively hide every possible piece of evidence that menstruation isn’t a myth.”

“We’ve seen the type on this sub before, whenever a fainting flower of misogyny has to endure the horror of an un-used but un-wrapped tampon.” – Self-Aware

“Anyone commenting on his teenage SIL’s legs while at a family dinner is also behaving like a pervy weirdo.”

“Why was he staring at OP’s legs so closely while sitting down to dinner anyway?”

“Unless the hair was long enough to tie into a leg-ponytail (at which point you shouldn’t have to shave either, because let’s face it, that’s just cool) he shouldn’t have even been looking at her legs hard enough to notice.”

“NTA.” – Kajamae

“The only time this is acceptable is if the person in question is a tattoo artist and the person they say it about is the person who is getting a tattoo. Because then you should shave. Can become quite a problem otherwise.”

“NTA OP. And do not apologize, your sister has very weird priorities.” – Bachpipe

“It’s never appropriate to comment on someone’s body. If it’s on someone’s body, do not comment on it… unless it’s in retaliation like OP.”

“He needs to apologize for sexualizing his sister-in-law’s body hair and making her body hair about his sexual preferences. Someone else here posted that he even sexualizes his own mustache and wants OP to see it as sexy/manly too.”

“Guys around here started growing Tom Selek mustaches ironically because mustaches usually look so douchy.” – Mundane-Currency5833

“How is body hair normal on men, but suddenly disgusting or gross on women!? Neither of us choose to grow body hair, it just happens, it’s part of human adulthood.”

“OP’s BIL is also just a wimp. So he can make inappropriate and unsolicited comments on his teenage SIL’s body hair, but if she fires back, he can’t take it!? He needs to grow the f**k up!” – Zedian_Bird

Others said it was the OP’s choice alone what to do with her body.

“I believe in the 15-second rule: if it can be fixed in 15 seconds or less, feel free to comment on it. Lipstick on their teeth? Let them know! Hair a little out of place? Go for it! Crumb on their shirt? You go, boo!”

“If it’ll take longer than 15 seconds, leave it alone. You don’t like their smile? Shhhh. You think they’re fat? Zip it. You want them to shave their legs? Not your business.” – lulugingerspice

“I have somewhat hairy arms, though the hairs are light in color. Nevertheless, at age 18 my then-boyfriend managed to shame me into shaving my arms by implying that my arm hair grossed him out. I’m honestly still kinda p**sed about that 22 years later.”

“We do not owe men, or anyone for that matter, shaved legs, armpits, pubic area, what have you. That is a personal choice and it is nobody else’s business. 100% NTA.” – sarahcominghome

“‘BIL, I’m sorry your emotions are so fragile and unstable that an observation from a teenage girl you felt the need to manage the body of sent you into toddler meltdown. Hopefully, we can put this behind us and step into the 21st century, where women aren’t expected to present themselves as prepubescent girls for the approval of older men.'”

“Seriously, I went through a similar thing, I was about 2 weeks postpartum and sitting on the couch beside my dad when he reached down and teasingly tugged my very long leg hair and asked me when I was going to shave.”

“I responded by reaching down and tugging his thicker and longer leg hair and replied, ‘I don’t know, right around the same time you shave yours.'”

“He gave me an amused but disapproving look and I decided at that moment that I wouldn’t shave any body hair anymore.”

“My dad isn’t a weirdo like the OP’s BIL, he just has some outdated ideas about women, reinforced by his perfectly coiffed wife that hid her period and never let him see her without makeup and if she’s ever grown body hair, she’s never let anyone else see it.”

“I’ve never been that kind of person and he thinks I’m not lady-like because of it.”

“It’s been 5 years, and I’m still hairy and happy.” – sandwichcrackers

“He is trying to police other women. He doesn’t have the right to stay this to anyone but especially not anyone who isn’t his wife.”

“He thinks he has the right to control your body just because he is a male, which is gross and regressive.” – asecretnarwhal


“Society has weird assumptions about where to keep hair and where to remove it, and people who want to enforce those ‘rules’ should be able to handle being asked why.”

“You weren’t technically mocking the mustache. You were saying that hair grows, you chose not to remove it, why? Same conversation as your legs.”

“Enforce stupid societal norms, win stupid societal prizes.” – Apotheuncary

“NTA. You are AWESOME!!! I laughed so frickin hard. That was the perfect comeback.”

“Ask your sister why it is appropriate for a grown man to even be looking at your legs, let alone staring at them hard enough to discern leg hair.”

“Then ask why is it okay for a grown man to call you disgusting.”

“Then ask why a grown man continued to harass you about having leg hair.”

“Then ask her when the grown man is going to apologize for his absolutely disgusting, inappropriate, and sexist bullying of you?” – Corduroycat1

While the OP was confused by her sister’s insistence that she apologize to her brother-in-law, the subReddit reassured her that she didn’t need to apologize.

Not only that, but they thought it was reasonable for her to continue asking more questions beyond mustache-wearing, including how closely her brother-in-law was looking at her legs, especially considering the age gap and marriage between them.

It seemed there was much more here to discuss than the OP’s decisions about her own body hair.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit