A London-based photographer challenges female body hair standards with a photo series of unshaven women- and they all look inspiring and sexy!
Society controlling women in many ways is something deeply rooted in history. Women have often been victims of fashion trends and unrealistic beauty standards.
Even today, media and ads keep supporting one, accepted-by-all model of a beautiful female being, which negatively affects women and lowers their self-esteem.
Women nowadays keep purchasing various beauty products to fit the ideals of modern society, and cosmetic surgeries, such as facelifts, tummy tucks, and breast enlargements have become too common.
Do women need to try this hard to be noticed in a male-dominated beauty system? Do they still believe their role is to only look attractive and be the matrons taking care of the home?
Well, numerous campaigns in the last decades have proved the opposite.
They could change the portrayal of women, as they have shown that women are determined to get their freedom from such stereotypes back and receive a chance to express themselves in whatever way they feel fits them as individuals.
One London-based photographer decided to challenge the common stereotypes- body hair in women.
Ben Hopper photographed unshaven women, and they look stunning! The idea behind his project was to show the challenging beauty standards that women face in regards to their body hair.
He aimed to encourage and support those who were brave enough to openly go against those beauty standards and break down the idea that a beautiful, attractive woman must be cleanly shaven.
He succeeded in it- and his portraits show that the natural beauty of a woman cannot be hidden with hair- these women are as desirable as those who shave!
Here are 15 portraits from his Natural Beauty campaign:
1. “I stopped shaving after reading Judith Butler and realizing that I had no idea what my ‘natural’ body looked like, as I was convinced to perform my gender and shave by 15. I then continued not to because I felt the need to overcome the embarrassment I felt for not conforming.
Not shaving shouldn’t be a statement but it is. Eventually, it became a really liberating experience and showers are so quick and easy now, I will never go back!”
2. This woman stopped shaving after she realized that it is her choice, “not a given”. She thought that spending so much extra time, money, and energy to “fulfill this conventional expectation to be hair free” was simply unfair.
3. “I’ve always been very hairy, as a child, teenager, and now a woman. I always felt very insecure about this as a teenager, thanks to the stigma perpetuated by society that it was not feminine to display the hair on your arms, legs, and armpits.
I used to spend many hours shaving and also spent a lot of money on razors, creams, and sticking plasters only to end up with skin irritations and unnecessary infectious spots that take an age to heal until the next time I had to start the cycle all over again.
One day my physical and mental irritation got so intense that I realized that shaving was not healthy for my skin. I did feel slightly unsure at first, however, it felt really good afterward as I knew that by not shaving was making my skin healthier and what I was doing was in some way liberating me from the stigmas and layers of society that I’d been put upon as a child.”
4. “There are people who are exceptionally rude and who speak from fear. People who say it’s dirty and that I must be a man. The more important questions to ponder are rather why and how do we live in a culture/society that has deemed it acceptable for certain people to have body hair and unacceptable for others?
Isn’t it absurd that it is socially acceptable for humans to have lots of hair on their head, but not on other parts of their same body? Isn’t it ridiculous and ironic that what grows naturally on its own is seen as unnatural? How did we get here?”
5. She made some research into female history and feminism, and found out “a much deeper layer of slogans and billboards selling advertisers and giant companies rolling in large sums every year under the “beauty ideal”.
She then discovered numerous women who have chosen not to shave their body hair and they are both, sensual and beautiful.
6. “The first time I removed body hair, I was around 11 years old. I stole my older sister’s razor and attempted to remove all of the hair from my body, not that I had much at the time. I assumed you needed to use a lot of pressure with the blade against my skin and ended up removing strips of flesh from my legs, which caused profuse bleeding.
I still remember going to school wrapped in bandages and claiming that I had fallen down a tree. Looking back now, I think of how horrified my mother must’ve been that I had already been conditioned to remove the early signs of puberty that had only just arisen.
Without recognizing it back then, I had already equated body hair with something monstrous and unnatural that had to be eradicated in order to keep my body effeminate and ‘pure’. As I grew older, I reflected on this instance a lot and the meaning behind it, and eventually just stopped removing my hair altogether.”
7. “I stopped shaving my armpit hair about 5 years ago, and the rest of my body hair 4 years ago. I was tired of constantly getting rid of my body hair since the age of 11.
I started wondering “Why?” – Why do we go through a painful process to get rid of something we were born with that keep growing? Why is being shaved considered to be more feminine? Why is body hair seen as something dirty? … It’s all about these ideas society has put into our heads and it doesn’t even make sense.”
8. She claims that she felt pretty and confident once she started growing her armpit hair, as she felt she has made her choice for herself only. She adds that people who choose for themselves ad follow their own voice are “inspiring and hella attractive!”
9. “I first stopped shaving while traveling solo around Mexico. With limited access to showers and too many adventures to be had, shaving became the least of my priorities. Once I realized that people didn’t care whether I had hair or not in addition to no longer having constantly itchy armpits due to stubble, I never looked back.
Also having fibromyalgia, which is a chronic illness causing general fatigue and pain, I have to prioritize what activities I dedicate my limited energy to on a daily basis, and shaving became something I choose not to do in order to save my limited energy for more important and enjoyable things.”
10. She has finally reached the stage where she happy with her hair. Hair is something that symbolizes softness ad femininity for her, which is “the opposite of how modern media portrays female body hair.” She claims she now trusts the natural processes of her body.
11.“I let my hair grow for the Natural Beauty project. It really intrigued me to see my whole body in its natural state. I wanted to know what it would feel like and how I would feel. I wanted to witness people’s judgment on my body first-hand.
I wanted to see how that impact would affect myself. It made me feel natural and vulnerable at first and eventually empowered. I’ve grown accustomed to my armpit hair, and it makes me feel beautiful.”
12. “Shaving, epilating, or waxing hurts. I was tired of suffering, trying to adapt to the image of a ‘beautiful young woman’ society is selling us. Everybody told me to shave.
As a teenager, it’s a huge subject among girls; where do you shave? What method are you using? It takes so much time and costs so much money (the majority of hair removal products are also not recyclable). All of these reasons coming one after another motivated me to stop shaving.”
13. She has never even started shaving her body hair. She thought it was unnecessary when her mother shaved hers when she was younger. When she realized later that women do it to become more attractive to men, she felt irritated.
14. “I first stopped out of, I guess my “laziness”, and later realizing I was just actively allowing myself to be more comfortable. So I let it grow, curious to what it would feel like au natural in an area so taboo and visible to the rest of the world.
It made me feel good! Like myself, like I couldn’t care what others felt, sort of empowered and comfortable in what my body naturally decided to look like.”
15. “From the age of 12, growing up with extremely sensitive skin, body hair was my worst nightmare. The fact that I’m a brunette with south European descent, living in a cold country without many sunny months was making it even harder.
Body hair was my biggest complex and I just decided to face it and love myself the way I am. I was tired of the constant struggle.
It made me feel at peace with myself. I realized that we are responsible for what we like and what we don’t like. I realized that beauty is really just in the eye of the beholder and that all of us have a choice.”