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Beauty and Body Hair: One Artist’s Perspective

posted in: Perception of Beauty
April 22, 2014

I’m going to take a wild guess and say that if you’re a woman, shaving comes as a second nature to you. A pesky one at that, and sure we may take a hiatus during Winter (tell me I’m not the only one…), but it’s just something we do.

Why do we feel that we must practice the monotonous chore of removing the hair we naturally produce? Of course, we have the fashion industry to thank for this part of the beauty ideal (again). According to Mental Floss, the practice of removing body hair among women only started in 1915. Prior to that, underarms and legs were considered racy, and were never seen in public anyway. However, with the invention of the sleeveless dress, and the Harper’s Bazaar ad that declared that women would first need to remove “objectionable hair” to wear one, shaving slowly became the norm. Gillette marketed their first razor for women in 1915 reinforcing the idea that shaving body hair was feminine and sanitary. This message has been repeated all the way to present day, like in this [debatably sexist] Veet ad:

According to an internet study done in the US that surveyed over 2,400 women, one of the most common answers as to why they chose to remove body hair was the desire to feel more attractive. One London-based artist has a very different view of body hair on women.

Beauty and Body Hair: One Artist's Perspective - Ben Hopper's 'Natural Beauty'

Fully aware of the constructed standards for conventional beauty, Ben Hopper started his “Natural Beauty” project in 2009, showcasing beautiful women flaunting their armpit hair. Juxtaposing the models’ made up faces and their underarm hair, he wanted to show that body hair and beauty are not mutually exclusive.

Beauty and Body Hair: One Artist's Perspective - Ben Hopper's 'Natural Beauty'

In an interview with The Huffington Post, Hopper explains, “I don’t want to say that I want women to start growing their armpit hair, I just think that it’s a possibility and people shouldn’t dismiss it. I’d like people to just question the whole thing.”

Beauty and Body Hair: One Artist's Perspective - Ben Hopper's 'Natural Beauty'

Hopper personally finds natural beauty to be empowering and sexy. “You need an attitude to be a female with hairy armpits nowadays. Anyone who is willing to take crap from a lot of people for it is, to me, an attractive and strong person.” He bluntly clarifies, “I don’t find waxing or shaving that sexy most of the time.”

You can view the entire “Natural Beauty” project on Hopper’s website.

What do you think of the photos? Do you ever think you’d stop shaving– and for longer than just winter?

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41 Responses

  1. Sheila Arkee
    | Reply

    I don’t think I’d ever be able to stop shaving, but I have to give props for ladies who are bold enough to do it.

  2. Betzy Carmona
    | Reply

    I could never stop removing my underarm hair, it would drive me insane.

  3. Beth and Beauty
    | Reply

    I don’t shave everyday and sometimes my pit hair may get stubby but I could never let it get that long, I think it would itch too bad….LOL! To each their own!!

  4. I will be completely honest and publicly say that I don’t really shave regularly, haha. I just don’t care. I’ll shave my pits when it’s hot though because the hair can make BO linger.

  5. FabZilla_Kath
    | Reply

    Have you smelled somebody’s armpit with so much hair and beyond sweaty? Don’t get me started! It’s none of my business if a woman shaves or not as long as she’s hygienic enough.

  6. PrimeBeauty
    | Reply

    I will not be trashing my razor anytime soon but I sure don’t mind if others do–as long as they wear deodorant

  7. Nidia Doherty
    | Reply

    I use my razor a lot less than I did as a young person. I worry more about the chin hairs I’m sprouting than I do my armpits!

  8. I get the idea and as much as I would love to be able to ditch the razor, I personally find body hair extremely unattractive. Maybe it’s the years of advertising, glossy magazines and media that have instilled this in me but it’s a view that I really don’t see changing in the next decade or two.

    • Yes, that will be a hard one to change, if at all, because it has such deep roots in people’s assumption of hygiene.

  9. Kelly R
    | Reply

    To each their own. I prefer a no-hair look for my armpits.

  10. Emily Hudspeth
    | Reply

    I just can’t! I totally appreciate their “going natural” if that is what they want to do…I just can’t. Im a hair free girl.

  11. Noelle
    | Reply

    This is definitely a great article to read. I love that they’re embracing their natural beauty and I totally get what they’re going for but I couldn’t help but notice they all have their eyebrows either waxed/tweezed. Kind of funny. Personally, I’m a shaver but I don’t mind nor care if they do or don’t. None of my business, y’know? 🙂

    • I really appreciate your open mindedness to this article! Yes, the artist actually acknowledged the fact that their faces are done up on his Facebook, where he said the point was to see the contrast– if they hadn’t had their arms up that way, you would think they were every day models, right? Thank you again for the thoughful comment 🙂

  12. EBBlogAshley
    | Reply

    Interesting article. I’m on the side of no armpit hair but to each his or her own I say.

  13. Phyrra
    | Reply

    I actually prefer to get my underarms waxed. My BFF doesn’t shave hers at all, but she is blonde and her hair is very light.

  14. Norah Salazar
    | Reply

    I don’t shave, it is terrible for your skin, I stopped years ago. I mostly wax and had laser done in my armpits and since then have no hair. Fortunately, I don’t have a hairy situation but as always, to each their own, some do and some don’t. In the winter here in NJ, I tend to leave my hair wax a bit longer but I still do it every 5-6 weeks tops.

  15. Amber
    | Reply

    hmmmm, interesting article to think about. Personally, I am not a fan of armpits in general. lol I don’t care to look at them, hairy or not I guess. I do shave and you can bet I will be doing laser hair removal on every surface I possibly can, when I can afford it. That’s just me, and I respect other people’s right to choose what they do with their body! 🙂 xo

    • I like art projects like these because it makes you critically think about something that has come to be so routine for us– we don’t even think about it, really!

  16. Honeygirlk
    | Reply

    I haven’t had to really shave my legs in quite a whiles since getting IPL… I do notice a few small hairs that grow… but they are so thin and tiny – I leave them because they go unnoticed. My arms though… I keep up with that consistently.

  17. Eugenia
    | Reply

    I hardly shave my legs because you can’t even see my leg hairs half the time! I would not stop shaving my arm pit hair though!

  18. Erika
    | Reply

    The photos are beautifully done. Personally, I prefer to shave, I have done so for so long that it is routine and I just prefer it. I don’t find body hair, it’s self objectionable and I don’t care if someone doesn’t shave. 🙂

    • I’m so glad you can appreciate the photos and Hopper’s project. I definitely have the same view as you. Thanks for sharing, Erika!

  19. Destany
    | Reply

    I get super lazy about my legs, especially in the winter, but the underarms havta be shaved. The smell…the sweat… the pit stains….that’s a man’s thing! bahahah

  20. beautybymissl
    | Reply

    Sorry, but hairy armpits are just ugly in my opinion. Yes it everyone´s own business, but mine are shaved.

    • They’re not for me, either, but the project does get the wheels turning about why we might think that way!

  21. Anastasia
    | Reply

    Hair removal is a personal choice. I personally shave my legs and underarms every day, it’s part of my daily shower routine.

  22. Sarah Hancock
    | Reply

    I absolutely have to shave my arm pit hair…legs as well just not every day. But truth is, if we hadn’t been introduced to the idea, hair would be the norm and life a little easier.

    • Exactly, Sarah! It just goes to show how socially constructed our ideas of what is right or wrong with our bodies/appearances are!

  23. mynewestaddiction
    | Reply

    ew! SHAVEEEEEEEEE! I can’t. I just can’t!

    • Believe it or not, shaving is not the norm for women in a lot of other countries. Even celebrities from the US have admitted to not shaving or have flaunted underarm hair, like Drew Barrymore and Julia Roberts! We’ve certainly been programmed into reacting a certain way to it, though.

  24. Lisa Marie Heath
    | Reply

    Interesting post, but the underarms I have to shave. Won’t lie… I’m lazy about my legs in the winter, but the armpits have to be done for me

  25. jamie @makeuplifelove
    | Reply

    Very interesting post. I can not , not shave my armpits. I have tried waxing and it hurt like hell. So Ill stick to shaving for sure. Anyone who wants to not shave- good for them. However for me I cant not.

  26. Cosmetics Aficionado
    | Reply

    Oh yeah, my legs take a winter hiatus lol. I actually epilate my underarms though. Shaving causes me a lot of irritation on my skin, so I have to epilate.

  27. Brooke @ Blushing Noir
    | Reply

    OMG NOOOOOO MUST MUST shave the pits omg omg omg. lol legs are another story. Just sayin. LMAO

  28. BeautyJudy
    | Reply

    I will never not shave my arm pits. Ever. I would never judge anyone for it, to each their own, but I don’t like it for me, personally.

    • Honestly, I don’t think I will either. Even though neither shaving/not shaving is more unhygienic than the other, I don’t think I would feel clean (especially in the summer) with hair there.

  29. The Style Page
    | Reply

    I’ll probably keep shaving. BTW congrats on being a finalist for Allure Beauty Blogger awards!

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