Women across the United Kingdom are letting their body hair grow for Januhairy, a movement started by Exeter University student Laura Jackson meant to help overcome “the taboo of body hair on a woman.” The campaign also aims to raise money for body positivity project Body Gossip.
The movement, perhaps unsurprisingly, has faced blowback, particularly from men, who claim that it is impossible for women to have unshaven armpits and still be attractive. But according to comedian and activist Kate Smurthwaite, not shaving one’s hair isn’t just a rejection of an oppressive societal norm, but also a particularly effective filter for women trying to find a date with a sensible forward-thinking man.
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Hi I’m Laura, the gal behind Januhairy! I thought I would write a little about my experiences and how Januhairy came about… I grew out my body hair for a performance as part of my drama degree in May 2018. There had been some parts that were challenging for me, and others that really opened my eyes to the taboo of body hair on a woman. After a few weeks of getting used to it, I started to like my natural hair. I also started to like the lack of uncomfortable episodes of shaving. Though I felt liberated and more confident in myself, some people around me didn’t understand why I didn’t shave/didn’t agree with it. I realised that there is still so much more for us to do to be able to accept one another fully and truly. Then I thought of Januhairy and thought I would try it out. It’s a start at least . . . I have had a lot of support from my friends and family! Even though I had to explain why I was doing it to a lot of them which was surprising, and again, the reason why this is important to do! When I first started growing my body hair my mum asked me “Is it you just being lazy or are you trying to prove a point?” . . . why should we be called lazy if we don’t want to shave? And why do we have to be proving a point? After talking to her about it and helping her understand, she saw how weird it was that she asked those questions. If we do something/see the same things, over and over again it becomes normal. She is now going to join in with Januhairy and grow out her own body hair which is a big challenge for her as well as many women who are getting involved. Of course a good challenge! 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. This picture was taken a few months ago. Now I am joining in with Januhairy, starting the growing process again along with the other wonderful women who have signed up! Progress pictures/descriptions from our gals will be posted throughout the month. Lets get hairy ???? #januhairy #bodygossip #bodyhairmovement #happyandhairy #loveyourbody #thenaturalrevolution #natural #hairywomen #womanpowe
“Isn’t it fascinating? As soon as women do something with their bodies, the reaction is, ‘What will men think?” said Smurthwaite during an appearance on Good Morning Britain. “Well, you know what? Maybe actually I think it’s a great thing. One thing my armpit hair does is filter out the kind of men who think that’s important. As far as I’m concerned that’s an absolute plus. That’s a straight up win.”
Another guest on the show, former Big Brother contestant Aisleyne Horgan-Wallace, expressed disgust about being able to see Smurthwaite’s armpit hair, insisting that her adverse reaction wasn’t the result of social conditioning but rather a concern about “hygiene.”
“It’s bacteria, it’s smell, I can’t deal. Why make a big fuss and song and dance about growing your armpit hair? There are bigger things to do,” said Horgan-Wallace.“If you look at the media, every woman is hairless,” responded Smurthwaite. “If young women are growing up and every woman they see is completely waxed, shaved, plucked within an inch of their life, then what happens when they turn 11, 12, 13 and start growing a few body hairs? They think there’s something wrong with them, that they’re disgusting. I want to send a message to young women that the way your body is naturally is fine.”
Smurthwaite also took the opportunity to educate one of the show’s more conservative hosts, Piers Morgan, about the concept of polyamory after Morgan demanded she “talk about your polyamorous thing a minute” because “I’ve never heard of this before.”
“Poly meaning many and amory meaning love. I practise ethical non-monogamy which means that I am not monogamous and everyone in the situation knows what’s going on,” the comedian explained. “I have two or three regular serious partners and about five or six other guys I date from time to time.”
Morgan tweeted that not shaving was “lazy and revolting.”
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) January 9, 2019
Asked by Morgan whether any of her partners had “a problem with Januhairy,” Smurthwaite was unequivocal in her response.
“None of them have even expressed an opinion about it because all eight of them value my warmth, my generosity, my creativity, my intelligence,” she replied. “None of them are the petty-minded people who would get obsessed with something as normal and natural and beautiful as a few normal human hair follicles.”
Watch video of Smurthwaite’s appearance on Good Morning Britain below.
Read the full story at Indy100.