By Laura Jackson
Embracing The Prickle
JanuHairy is the movement challenging women to stop hair removal for the month of January. This social media storm has both empowered women and gained its fair share of criticism. Here’s founder Laura Jackson on why the body hair debate is a prickly one worth having.
Body hair. Some of us don’t like it, some of us do. But we are all still hygienic and beautiful, no matter how smooth or hairy. In May 2018, I grew out my body hair for the first time. It was for a one-woman show I wrote and performed called My Left Tit is My Favourite. The show looked at the absurd efforts women go to feel accepted in society. I hope to perform it again sometime.
“JanuHairy is about loving and accepting ourselves just the way we are”
There were elements of growing my hair out that were challenging for me, and others that really opened my eyes to the taboo of female body hair. But after a few weeks, I got used to it. I liked my natural hair. I also started to like the lack of uncomfortable shaving episodes. Without My Left Tit is My Favourite, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to stop these in the first place. It pushed me to question things further.
In September 2018, I went to a talk on the ‘Politics of body hair’ at the Woman of the World festival in Exeter. I realised that there is still so much more for us to do to be able to accept one another fully and truly. So came about the idea of JanuHairy, and I thought I would try it out. It’s a start at least!
JanuHairy is about loving and accepting ourselves just the way we are. When I think about how my own shaving obsession started, it was always about comparing myself with other women. If I’d seen other women embracing and loving their body hair at that time, then I might have done too. The aim of the project is to help other women see that there is nothing more loving than embracing our authentic selves. It’s not about preaching that all women should all be hairy forever, it’s about reminding them that they have a choice and that they should feel accepted for whatever choice they make.
“If we do something and see the same things over and over again, it becomes normal”
My family and friends have been really supportive since the beginning, but I did have to explain it at first. A primary example of why JanuHairy is important. My mum asked me: “Is this just you being lazy or are you trying to prove a point?” Not wanting to shave isn’t being lazy, it isn’t trying to prove a point. After talking to her about it and helping her see things in a different way, she saw how weird it was that she asked those questions. If we do something and see the same things over and over again, it becomes normal. Mum is now joining in with JanuHairy. It’s a big challenge for her, as well as many other women getting involved.
My Dad also didn’t get this step away from the social norm until I helped him understand. He’s my biggest supporter and now calls himself a feminist. He’s always thinking of great ideas on how to promote JanuHairy. This isn’t an angry campaign for people who don’t see how normal body hair is. It’s an empowering project for everyone to understand more fully their views on themselves and others.
Although there’s been a lot of love and support for the project, there has also been a lot of hate and disgust. Piers Morgan has made a lot of comments on female body hair since this movement has blown up. A lot of the negative comments have been regarding what men think of the project. But this is our point. Women shouldn’t live their lives just to please men, abiding by the rules of what they find attractive. Of course, Piers Morgan does not speak for all men (thankfully), but similar reactions to his have been had by men and women.
Why do we find body hair on a women ‘repulsive’? It’s just something that people aren’t used to seeing so openly… so let’s change that. Maybe then we can focus on more important things to worry about!
“Self acceptance starts with our bodies”
So many women have signed up – ranging from age 12-80. Women from all over the world – from England, USA, Canada, Germany, Russia and Spain, France… the list goes on! It isn’t just about the signing up though; the people watching this project are just as important to mention. That’s what this is about… changing some opinions!
JanuHairy is raising money for the Body Gossip Performance Project. Body Gossip provides groundbreaking workshops which “combine creative writing and live theatre to work with Years 7-9 students in an exploration of positive body image”. It’s a way of empowering everybody to be the best version of themselves. To rock their own brand of gorgeous. More information can be found HERE.
The pressures of conforming to certain body images has a large impact on all of us but this is especially challenging for young people. In our school years, we learn so many things that benefit our futures, but there’s also the risk that we are moulded into what we believe we should become, rather than accepting ourselves for who we are first. Self acceptance starts with our bodies. Support for JanuHairy will help Body Gossip further their education program, aiming to change young minds and their views on their bodies.
And of course if you can, support the project by donating as well as sharing JanuHairy’s posts with supportive messages for the women involved!