It's no secret that many people have opinions, solicited or not, about female body hair. Many of these people insist, in fairly vehement tones, that it has no place in polite society. That attitude has recently prompted more and more women to come out on social media and embrace their natural body hair, redefining what it is, and, more importantly, what it's not -- i.e. something to be ashamed of.
Plenty of women eschew the razor for practical reasons (shaving is a time suck, it irritates skin, it's expensive over time). Others, however, grow their body hair and display it proudly (even colorfully) as a form of self-expression. Still others choose to remove however much hair they want, whenever they want to -- which is empowering, too. Either way, all of these ladies are sending a message, announcing that "typical" grooming standards don't dictate their lives. And to us, that's awesome. Challenging the status quo is beautiful.
That's why we've decided to celebrate women who embrace their natural body hair. We collaborated with two models -- Ivy Stewart and Lee Armoogam -- who are doing just that. Together, we're shining the spotlight on body hair by highlighting it in fanciful, frivolous ways, using materials both whimsical (confetti) and natural (moss). A fair warning here: Some of these photos are NSFW, depending on where you work, of course. But this isn't just about bells, whistles, and follicles. Both women have well thought-out reasons for ditching the razor (or the laser, or the epilator, or waxing strips...) that have taught us a lesson or two.
Our goal at Refinery29 is to empower and inspire the women who empower and inspire us. Because, to us, the most badass women are those who define beauty on their own terms.
It's your body. It's your summer. Enjoy them both. Check out more #TakeBackTheBeach here.
"There are certain things I do for my personal appearance and upkeep," Ivy says (like this glitter 'stache!). "Shaving just isn't one of them."
"Pits" is sort of a sad word -- but nothing a dose of pink, purple, and glitter can't cheer up.
MM6 Maison Margiela Stone Washed Cotton Denim Overalls, $645, available at Luisa Via Roma; Baserange Mississippi Bra in Grey, $62, available at Need Supply Co.; Baserange Rib Tank Camisole, $82, available at Rennes.
"Keeping my natural body hair made me feel more comfortable," Lee says.
Kicking back in a moss merkin.
Thakoon leotard; Nike sneakers; model's own jewelry.
Lee says her Instagram followers sometimes comment on her decision not to shave, even if the photo in question doesn't show her body hair. "People say it's 'fucking disgusting,' and I'm like, 'We're human, and we grow hair. How is that disgusting? How are you going to tell another young lady that her natural body is gross and wrong?'"
Alexander Wang top.
Double the stubble: Sprinkles on the left, glitter on the right.
Adam Selman shoes.
"I stopped shaving fully when I was 15," Ivy says. "I went to camp and it was a pain in the ass to shave my legs. I was at camp, where I was supposed to feel free, and here I was shaving!"
Just because Ivy is embracing her body hair now doesn't mean she never shaves -- and that's okay, too. (Your body, your choice.) "I shave my pubes every few months if it starts to feel uncomfortable," she says. "I just go by what my body is telling me."
"Free the nipple" takes on an entirely new meaning with wildflowers in place of nipple hair.
MM6 Maison Margiela bikini top.
Wouters & Hendrix Palm Tree Pendant Necklace, $199.92, available at Wouters & Hendrix.
"Being a young woman, you grow body hair naturally as you're growing up -- yet we're told to get rid of it," Lee says. "It's actually weird if you think about it."
Talk about a happy trail.
"One of my really good friends has body hair, and she put up a photo [on Instagram] of her hairy stomach and people actually thanked her," Lee says. "They said, 'My stomach looks like that, too. Don't shave anything.'"
Left: Alexander Wang bra; Alexander Wang shorts; Karen Walker sunglasses.
"For me, it's more for comfort. I wasn't trying to make a statement," Ivy says. "Although I think the statement it does make is a positive one." Bottom line? Embrace what makes you feel good, and ignore the rest.
PHOTOGRAPHED BY OLIVIA LOCHER; STYLED BY BRITT BERGER; HAIR COLOR BY ROXIE AT HAIRSTORY STUDIO ; HAIR BY KYIA JONES; MAKEUP BY ALLIE SMITH AT SARAH LAIRD; PROP STYLING BY EMILY MULLIN AT HELLO ARTISTS; MODELED BY IVY STEWART; MODELED BY LEE ARMOOGAM
By: Maria del Russo