The Razor Backlash
Riot grrrls around the world have spent years following in Kathleen Hanna’s furry-legged footsteps, making the decision to embrace their body hair and rejecting society’s tendency to suggest otherwise. The movement traces back even further than the Bikini Kill front woman’s time, with Italian bombshell Sophia Loren frequently photographed sporting unshaven pits in the ’50s. Despite this decades-long dalliance with stubble, however, it wasn’t until recently that body hair became a little less political, and a lot more chic.
These days, many of fashion’s fiercest women are ditching their razors in exchange for a low maintenance look that’s au naturel. Though we still have a way to go before letting your body do its own thing loses shock value, here are 11 ladies turning body hair into this season’s must-try “beauty trend”.
Arvida Byström‘s girly aesthetic and pastel-tinged images may have landed her on the pages of Wonderland and i-D, but don’t mistake this Stockholm-based artist and curator as one to adhere to society’s gender norm. Byström is vocal about her disapproval of the impossible beauty ideals placed on women, and she once joined Dazed in a panel on the topic, stating, “It sucks to feel like a freak and be grossed out by your own body. This makes people sick.”
Fashion’s favourite photographer capturing women for the female gaze, Petra Collins is no stranger to the body policing that is so vehemently found on social media. In 2013, the artist had a photo of her unshaven bikini line removed on Instagram. This sparked a debate over whether or not the platform would have taken down the image in question had her hair been removed, and the whole ordeal led Collins to pen a story about it on the Huffington Post.
Alexandra Marzella is a Brooklyn-based model, actress and advocate who focuses on the intersection of sex-positivity and feminism. Therefore, it’s no surprise that this internet icon has decided to live by a mantra of “long hair, don’t care”. Her Instagram selfies regularly feature locks that flow from both atop her head as well as under her arms, all in an attempt to make a woman’s body hair that much more commonplace.
One-fourth of the fictional gal pal crew everyone loves to hate, Jemima Kirke is best known as Jessa from HBO’s Girls. The actress became a fan favourite for her character’s unapologetic approach to sex and the female body, a trait that she also exhibits off-screen. Similar to her co-star Lena Dunham, Kirke has been praised for disobeying Hollywood’s strict beauty rules, with the starlet opting to keep her body hair and wear it proud.
Charlotte Free is a model whose affinity for body hair first entered pop culture following a series of portraits taken by fashion’s most infamous pervert, Terry Richardson. She has gone on to label the images a “feminist statement”, a progressive point of view that unfortunately conflicts with her victim blaming remarks regarding the long history of sexual assault allegations against Richardson.
If we were to guess the specific moment when fashion started catching on to the body hair revolution, it would probably be the day that Daria Werbowy exposed her fuzzy pits via Instagram. The trendsetter’s public display of affection for underarm hair was one small step for supermodels, and one giant leap for womankind.
In spite of her baby-like vocals, musician Grimes is actually quite the outspoken feminist. The Canadian singer is an example of how body policing works both ways, with the performer telling Teen Vogue earlier this year about her return to shaving as a response to fans’ anger over her shaved legs. #Itworksbothways
Artist and trans icon Juliana Huxtable has built a career playing by her own rules. Her bold fashion sense has elevated the creative into a style icon, with Huxtable recently starring in this year’s Kenzo x H&M campaign. Still, the artist refuses to begin adhering to the general fashion population’s idea of femininity, with Huxtable preferring to leave her underarm hair right where it is.
Molly Soda is a longtime advocate of letting it all grow out. The internet artist updates her Instagram almost daily, posting zoomed-in images of her upper lip, underarms and navel, all covered in lengths of hair that range from barely there peach fuzz to full-on fur. Soda has announced plans to continue in this spirit, working with the previously mentioned Byström to publish a book that focuses on Instagram and its much-disputed censorship guidelines.
Madonna and daughter Lourdes
Madonna is no stranger to unshaven pits, and the singer has been photographed many times throughout her career sporting body hair. But the pop culture icon makes the list due to her superb mothering, teaching daughter Lourdes to love her body as it is.
Writer: Gloria Cardona
Editorial Assistance: Nathalie Francois