A month-long campaign encouraging women to grow out their body hair is happening for the first time.
Januhairy, set up by student Laura Jackson, 21, from Warwickshire aims to help women love and accept their natural hair while raising money for charity – rather like a female version of Movember.
The Exeter University student said she came up with the idea after growing out her own hair for a performance.
‘Though I felt liberated and more confident in myself, some people around me didn’t understand or agree with why I didn’t shave,’ the third-year drama student said.
‘I realized that it is still so much more for us to do to be able to accept one another fully and truly.’
Women from around the world have signed up to the challenge, from Spain to USA and Laura hopes to raise £1,000 for charity Body Gossip’s education program, which teaches young people about body image.
Laura posted a snap of her armpits on Instagram to kickstart the challenge, saying: writing on Instagram: ‘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.’
But it hasn’t all been a positive reaction, as though Laura says she feels liberated, she explains that some people around here don’t understand why she isn’t shaving.
‘When I first started growing my body hair my mum asked me “Is it you just being lazy or are you trying to prove a point?”. Why should we be called lazy if we don’t want to shave? And why do we have to be proving a point?’
Having spoken to her mum about it, Laura’s mum is now joining in Januhairy, which she describes as ‘a big challenge for her’.
Social media users have been divided about the challenge, with one writing ‘why do they think that making themselves ugly and shaggy will prove anything?’
Others have been supportive, with another writing ‘I love this! Thank you for sharing your experiences. I stopped removing my body hair about 2 years ago; it suddenly struck me one day that I didn’t particularly mind how it looked, so why was I putting in all this effort that men are never expected to?
‘People often want to know what my reason for growing my body hair out, as if it’s a political statement, but really no-one should have to provide a reason for letting their body exist as it does naturally.’
Among those taking part in Januhairy is University of Exeter students India Howland.
‘I think having body hair is one of many things women should never be made to feel lesser for,’ India Howland, 22, from Lymington, Hampshire, said.
‘I’ve heard girls apologize for having hairy legs before.
‘But you should be able to embody your femininity any way you want to – no one should feel pressured into shaving.
‘It’s a choice,’ the third-year drama student said.
Laura added that her project is ‘not an angry campaign for people who don’t see how normal body hair is.
‘It is an empowering project for everyone to understand more about their views on themselves and others,’ she explained.
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