Body hair has become a buzzworthy topic in recent years. Though everyone has been blessed with hair below the head, for centuries, it has been associated with power and masculinity – two things, by all means, women should not have (read sarcasm). But in the era of fourth-wave feminism, as many refer to it, our views on leg, armpit, and pubic hair are shifting. Celebrities are celebrating their #BigBushEnergy, supermodels are sporting full-on fuzz in ad campaigns, femcare brands like Billie are working to change the marketing message associated with hair removal products, and #bodyhair pics are popping up on social media, showing women who have chosen to wear it proudly rather than wax it off.
The most recent example of body hair love is on Instagram. A new campaign started by Exeter University student Laura Jackson, 21, encourages women to grow out their body hair during the month of January and share photos of their progress using the hashtag #Januhairy. By filling our feeds with photos of women proudly displaying their body hair, Jackson hopes to continue to challenge the idea that it’s something to be ashamed of. “This isn’t an angry campaign for people who don’t see how normal body hair is, but more an empowering project for everyone to understand more about their views on themselves and others,” she captioned a post.
Jackson was inspired to start the project after growing out her body hair for a school performance and being met with questions like, “Are you just being lazy” or “Are you trying to prove a point?” This opened her eyes to the taboo of body hair on a woman: “I realized that there is still so much more for us to do to be able to accept one another fully and truly,” she said — and she’s right.
Despite the increased awareness in recent years, more than 99 percent of American women remove their body hair regularly. Those that don’t are met with ridicule and hostility. The sheer idea of leg hair on a woman seems to invite derogatory comments, offensive jokes, sexual rejection, even violent threats. In fact, Swedish model Arvida Byström received rape threats after choosing to star in a 2017 Adidas campaign with unshaven legs. Needless to say, this is an unacceptable state of affairs.
The good news: There are now nearly 3,000 posts using the #Januhairy hashtag and that number is growing. What’s more, those involved in the project hope to do more than help women feel comfortable and confident in their natural bodies; they are also raising money for a good cause. People participating can seek sponsorship through a crowdfunder, and all proceeds will go to Body Gossip, a non-profit that educates young people about body image and encourages individuality.