Online contest

Chinese feminists share photos of armpit hair on social media

Xiao Meili, a women’s rights activist and one of the contest’s organizers.

Xiao Meili, a prominent women’s rights activist has launched an online “armpit hair contest” in order to fuel discussion of “the definition of feminine beauty.” The contest, which will award prizes to the “top 3 entries” ends on Wednesday. So far, some 40 women have heeded her call and published photos of their hirsute armpits on Weibo, China’s equivalent to Twitter. “I hope to raise the issue of the ownership of female body and to dispel the belief that it is wrong for girls to keep their armpit hair,” Xiao, 25, told The Guardian. “Keeping armpit hair should not be seen as uncivilised or dirty – it is nothing of the sort.” While the contest might seem like an innocent, tongue-in-cheek way of criticizing beauty standards, it comes at a worrisome time for feminists in the country. Earlier this year, Chinese authorities detained 5 prominent feminist activists who planned to protest against domestic violence and sexual harassment. They were released on bail, but still face criminal charges, and the rights group to which they belonged was forced to shut down last week. Three of those five women have sent in photographs for the contest, further challenging the Chinese government, which seems intent on cracking down on various forms of human rights activism.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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