This January, a new social media campaign is encouraging women to grow out their body hair. In addition to urging women to love and accept their natural body, the campaign, cleverly called Januhairy, is raising money for a good cause.
Unfortunately for women, many of our personal choices are judged by men and women alike, especially when those choices have something to do with how we look. Women are flooded with a constant barrage of outside input, from advertising and media to actual humans in our lives, both strangers and friends. Most women encounter critiques daily regarding the absence or presence of a smile on their face, how their hair looks, what their clothing may be communicating to others, etc. While body hair isn’t a common topic of conversation, it can be assumed by the constant onslaught of critiques of a woman’s appearance that almost everyone has a very strong opinion on it: it’s gross.
But why? What makes a freshly shaved woman strong and confident while a naturally hairy women is perceived as lazy and unclean? And why does it matter what other people do with their bodies anyway?
“Though I felt liberated and more confident in myself, some people around me didn’t understand or agree with why I didn’t shave,” Januhairy founder and Exeter University student, Laura Jackson, said.
“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 realized that there is still so much more for us to do to be able to accept one another fully and truly.”
Jackson thought up the campaign after growing her own body hair out for a performance to obtain her drama degree in May 2018.
“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,” Jackson said on Instagram.
Early adopters to Januhairy partook in one last shave on New Year’s Eve before embarking on a full month free from razors, wax, epilators and chemical treatments frequently used to remove female body hair.
Jackson hopes to raise $1,270 to support BodyGossip, an organization empowering people to be the best version of themselves. BodyGossip’s education program teaches young people about positive body image. So far the campaign has raised 45% of its goal. Women ranging in age from 16 – 60 from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Russia, Spain and others are taking part.
Women and men alike have taken to social media to voice their support for Januhairy since word of the campaign first began to spread:
And for the record, my love for my missus is unconditional & that includes appearance. So if she wants to engage in #Januhairy more power to her.
— Jimmy Murphy (@JimmyREMfan) January 5, 2019
I'm not doing #Januhairy but I did have to love my youngest son just that little bit more when we were talking about society's expectation for women to not have hairy legs. He asked what difference did it make to a woman's personality if she has hairy legs. None son. None at all.
— Kate (@RobiMous2) January 4, 2019
#Januhairy is probs only a thing if I'd shaved my legs since November, right?
Why does everyone give such a shit whether or not people shave? Srsly why does anyone care whether or not a woman removes her body hair?
— Viennese Strudel (@VienneseStrudel) January 4, 2019
— Jenni Hill 💸🏡 (@CantSwingACat) January 4, 2019
@janu_hairy this is a great idea. I wax so hair has to get long anyway and have been told on the tube to “shave your legs” several times. By males. Doesn’t bother me but does show the rights men seem to think they have over women #Januhairy
— LauraJane (@wyekare) January 5, 2019
Other social media users drew some interesting parallels:
— Nat’s Life Blog (@Natslife_blog) January 4, 2019
For anyone reading this who may happen to subscribe to this veiw point, just have a quick think as to why men with hairy armpits aparently don't have a personal hygiene crisis. #januhairy
— GB (person not country) (@TheBainOfMyLife) January 5, 2019
And of course, others were quick to voice their opposition to both the campaign and the existence of women with body hair. While the campaign encourages women to love and accept their own bodies, however hairy or not, it also aims to broaden other peoples’ understanding of female body hair. As evidenced by the tweets below, there’s still a lot of work to do when it comes to understanding and acceptance.
I feel repulsedby the whole #januhairy thing. Obviously women can do as they please in todays world and rightly so. But hairy women is VERY unattractive and im sure 99% of men will agree.
— Jonny Price (@jonnyUK88) January 4, 2019
— Amber (@amber_allen1) January 4, 2019
— David Vance (@DVATW) January 4, 2019
Januhairy: the campaign encouraging women to grow their body hair
What a turn off! https://t.co/V3hfPSRSa2
— Bob For Full Brexit (@boblister_poole) January 5, 2019
Don’t worry Bob, Januhairy isn’t about you. As Jackson explains, “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.”
Despite the vocal opposition, a quick social media search shows that plenty of women are up for the Januhairy challenge.