The notion that women should feel free to grow their body hair as they please is one that’s been regarded as taboo by society for quite some time.
Women are often made to feel unfeminine if they’re not entirely hairless, so much so that shaving and waxing adverts frequently depict women removing body hair when they don’t actually have any to begin with.
This prejudicial behaviour has led to the creation of the Januhairy campaign, a movement encouraging women to grow their body hair for the month of January.
The primary aim of the campaign is to raise money for body positivity project Body Gossip.
“The acceptance of body hair on women is unfortunately still a predicament,” the organiser of Januhairy writes on the campaign’s Facebook page.
“We are displayed in the media as feeling ‘confident’ when our legs are smooth, eyebrows plucked, armpits waxed.
“Society seems to be behaving as if the natural hair we grow on our bodies is unattractive and distasteful.”
The Januhairy campaign was created by Exeter University student Laura Jackson.
The 21-year-old first started growing her body hair in May 2018 as part of a performance for her drama degree.
After a few weeks of getting used to growing her body hair, she started to feel “liberated and more confident in myself”.
“It really opened my eyes to the taboo of body hair on a woman,” she tells The Independent.
Some of the people around Jackson couldn’t understand why she’d chosen to stop shaving, and several told her that they didn’t agree with her point of view.
“I realised that there is still so much more for us to do to be able to accept one another fully and truly,” she says. “Then I thought of Januhairy and thought I would try it out.”
Her friends and family have been very supportive of the campaign, although her mother initially questioned her daughter’s motives, asking whether Jackson was “just being lazy” or “trying to prove a point” by not shaving.
After gaining a greater comprehension of the concept of the campaign, her mother decided to also take part in Januhairy.
“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,” Jackson says.
Renate Fromson, a 25-year-old medical student from London, chose to start growing her body hair after spending a summer in Vermont surrounded by women who treated their body hair as normal.
“When you hit puberty, hair starts to grow on your body. That’s the most natural thing in the world,” she tells The Independent.
“By encouraging girls to get rid of this hair we’re saying stop, don’t mature or become a woman, stay trapped in a fragile prepubescent body for your whole life so that men can infantilise you and maintain the patriarchy.
“The more women who don’t shave, the more role models there will be for young girls grappling with this.
“To learn to love and be proud of your whole body is to embrace life.”
Jackson has created a JustGiving page for Januhairy, with the aim of raising £1,000 for Body Gossip’s education programme.
Body Gossip uses art and education to make people feel empowered and comfortable in their own skin.
Several people have been expressing their excitement over participating in Januhairy for the first month of the year.
“Freshly shaved and ready to prove that my body hair is my choice!” one person wrote on Twitter.
However, some have been leaving offensive comments in response to the campaign, with one man tweeting that he’s “repulsed” by the idea.
“#januhairy is not for me...But the amount of men projecting their insecurities all over the hashtag is telling,” another person tweeted.
“You miss the point!! Women can do exactly what they want with their own bodies. Who cares if you find it attractive or not?! We are not here to make you feel okay.”
To sign up for Januhairy, all you need to do is fill in the form on this link.
You can also support the initiative by donating money towards Body Gossip here.
In July 2018, shaving brand Billie was commended on social media for depicting women’s body hair for the first time in an “empowering” shaving advert.
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