We are in 2019, but if you dare to use women and body hair in the same sentence, you’ll be surprised to see the number of raised eyebrows! It’s like no one wants to admit to the fact that just like men, women have natural body hair and it’s really OKAY to not shave/wax. To raise more awareness about the issue, a month-long campaign called ‘Januhairy’ is encouraging women to grow their body hair and post pictures on social media with fuzzy armpits and unshaved legs so that people get used to the fact that it’s not un-natural for women to have body hair.
The month-long Januhairy was started by Laura Jackson, 21, from Warwickshire (UK) to help women love and accept their natural body hair, and it has got a lot of support online. In 1999 actress Julia Roberts created a stir by showing armpit hair, model Gigi Hadid also made a statement with that in a recent ad. Speaking about the power of online support, Bengaluru-based blogger and social media influencer Nandini Swaminathan, says, “I feel like beauty standards have evolved in recent times. From being something dictated by men, it’s now been taken charge of by women again. Celebrities like Alicia Keys choosing to go makeup-free on the red carpet is a huge step in this direction. Women now are increasingly boycotting strict male standards of beauty, and it’s empowering to have a choice. As a blogger, I do similar activities on my platform to support real body issues.”
Although working women face a lot of pressure to look good all the time, Delhi-based entrepreneur Shakun Sethi finds such initiatives liberating. She remarks, “In my scope of work, I meet loads of women not only in India but also the USA who have had been subjected to body shaming and it left a negative impact on their psychology. Such campaigns give an insight that there are different kinds of bodies and it is time to break away from the preconceived notion. No one has to follow everything blindly but it is a good start to say, body hair is ok.”
Not just working ladies, but students and homemakers also welcome this idea of not shaving for a month as a positive change.
“Acceptance about our natural bodies comes with a lot of time and work. Movements like these encourage those who don’t have the courage or the support at the moment to accept themselves the way they are,” points out Pune-based student Srishti Srivastava. Extending the support, Richa Ojha, a working mom, adds, “To have body hair or get rid of it is a personal choice and no one should be judged on that. I’m so glad it’s a statement now because I’ve never been a big fan of hair removal. And, this is a perfect reason to celebrate that.”
While a similar campaign for men called Movember (No Shave November) got instantly popular across the globe, a lot of people still think it’s still a taboo to display body hair for women. Kolkata-based writer Devlina Ganguly says, “No Shave November is essentially different from Januhairy as facial fuzz is often equated to masculinity and is appreciated. Females with armpit hair or unshaved eyebrows, limbs or upper lips are often seen as unkempt, even gross. Standards of beauty are not the same, no matter how much we claim they are. We don’t need such campaigns as they really won’t solve the issue at the core. There are unrealistic standards of beauty they are supposed to meet. Men, especially in India, have no qualms flaunting a beer gut, but a woman will starve herself to death to look attractive to existing or potential mates. I have gone without plucking my eyebrows for months. But no, I wouldn’t step out with hair on my legs or my armpit showing. Rather than anyone judging me, my self-consciousness and my social conditioning regarding accepted beauty norms won’t let me do so.”
Celebrity stylist Nidhi Sharma agrees to this and adds, “In fashion, if a model decides to walk in without shaving her armpits and legs, she will lose her job. I believe that this campaign sends out a body positivity message, but personally, I consider shaving more about hygienic than beautification.”...