In the heart of the southern hemisphere, a group of women have stopped shaving: legs, armpits, pubic, misstache…everything. Born as a movement of reconciliation with nature, Get Hairy February has now become a proper protest against the violence and abuse women have to endure, every day everywhere.
It all started with a young Australian woman, Alex Andrews, deciding to let her superfluous hair grow. It was a real challenge at the beginning, because of the beauty standards imposed by society. Yet Alex persevered and discovered that it was not just about hair, but about equality and respect.
“While the choice to remove or keep my body hair has always been mine, I can’t help but feel like that choice would be a whole lot easier if it didn’t come with a feeling of shame, guilt or judgement” – Alex Andrews, Get Hairy February Founder ** 📷 @cinzia_gaia #gethairyfebruary #letitgrow #feminism #mychoice #freechoice #endviolenceagainstwomen #bodyhair #bodypositivity
From a mere campaign about free will over hair, Get Hairy February has grown to be a fundraiser for women coping with abuse, supporting associations such as Full Stop Foundation and Empowered Together. Their aim is also to bring awareness about discrimination and to ultimately shift the attention towards individuals, leaving behind the white and patriarchal norms ruling our society.
Yet I couldn’t help asking myself: why hair?
How did we get down to shaving in the first place?
The disgust for “superfluous” hair started about a century ago in the UnitedStates, triggered by an ad fora summer dress. The year was 1915 when on Harper’s Bazaar appeared the first ad for a sleeveless dress. Funnily, the ad also stated that lovely dress, perfect for the modern dance, required the removal of objectionable hair. Just like today, the advertising law did its magic and all women ran to batten down the hatches.
In the following two decades, dresses became shorter and shorter, forcing women to start the hair removal down south as well. In conjunction with these great stylistic changes, companies began to produce shaving products for women, advertising them shamelessly on newspapers. Because, well, who would ever want a wifey with hairy legs?
In Europe, the preference for smooth hairless skin only arrived after WW II, but since then it has rooted so deeply in the culture to be practically labelled as good etiquette.
The deeper meaning of Get Hairy February
That of hair removal is a double-sided coin. If on the one hand, we find aesthetic reasons, on the other there are clear signs of submission, subtle but sticky. Today, it’s not about hair removal in general, as that has become the norm, but about the private garden.
Whether it is for fashion or alleged comfort, the disgust for “superfluous” hair has now reached the most secret and intimate zone of our bodies. For many women, however, removing pubic hair is a choice imposed on them, albeit indirectly, by their partner and the society. Many young guys put their cards on the table right away, willing to give up a night of passion if the girl in question prefers her garden, let’s say, the English way. Stable relationships are not that different, I am afraid, as I often hear the same litany.
I get a full wax because my boyfriend likes it that way.
As if they had the ultimate saying. Men have preferences, just like women do, and it is good to let the partner know. What is not good, though, is a request for obedience, implicit or not. The body isn’t anyone’s property. The fact that a woman would go through pain and discomfort to please her partner is unacceptable. The same applies to social morality and indirect judgments. Do you let your neighbour tell you how to trim your garden? No. So, why would you let them dictate how you groom your vagina?
Every woman is free to be wild, Brazilian, triangular, striped or bold, as long as it is a personal choice. Compliance at the pubic level is a form submission, pure and simple. And submission is a form of violence. Get Hairy February is also this: fighting back female submission to beauty canons imposed by men, today as in 1915.
*A similar form of this article also appeared on artspecialday.com.