a badass feminist body hair manifesto
Artist and model Scarlett Costello on daring to grow it out.
i-D Hair Week is an exploration of how our hairstyles start conversations about identity, culture, and the times we live in.
Why I Don't Shave
I don't shave my armpits because I got over having red irritated bumps and spending 30 dollars on razors that are going to end up in massive piles of plastic anyways. I had this realization a few years ago where I was like, Hey wait, I was born with that hair and it's on my body for a reason! I just prefer things more natural. I think that everyone always looks better how they were intended to look. I rarely think that people look better after dyeing their hair or getting a nose job. Do you if that's what makes you feel good. But not shaving is how I do me.
Armpit Hair Is Still Subversive
Armpit hair is still subversive because there isn't any mainstream representation that is considered sexy. Unfortunately American culture values women based on how much men are attracted to them, rather than how smart, strong, and resilient we are. The general kind of pedestrian view of armpit hair would be that it's gross, or something that only hippie girls do. There aren't that many girls that embrace their body hair and are still idolized and seen as beautiful and relatable to most people.
And It's Still Political
Body hair is totally political. It's related to the politics of gender. Falling under the influence of an oppressive ideaI that comes from the patriarchy isn't for me. The pressure to be hairless comes from white men deciding they prefer women waxed and hairless, and perpetuating that image through advertising and the capitalist system at large. I obviously don't want to conform to any of that twisted, sexualized bullshit.
My Body Hair is Part of My Art
My body hair is connected to my art because I always do what I want and I do what comes naturally to me. I don't shave my armpits because I don't want to. It comes out of me just as much as my art does. Not shaving is connected to my art in that I'm a woman expressing myself. I'm doing things on my own terms and staying true to myself.
But I'm Also A Model
Being a model totally affects autonomy over our bodies. When it comes to shaving for a model, unfortunately it comes down to money. I've shaved for a super corporate big campaign because I have student loans to pay off, and hair will always grow back. Every time I do though, I feel a little bit guilty for doing something to my body that is influenced by an outside force. Right now the modeling industry hasn't evolved to the point where body hair is a normal thing (which doesn't make sense because literally almost every living thing is born with hair).
Body hair isn't typically seen as beautiful, so most people who are casting wouldn't include it in the project. I have a unibrow but I might make more money if I just kept it waxed. But conversely, I think that some special people in this industry are attracted to those who are really comfortable with their unique selves, and I respect that more.
Join The Movement!
Young women should consider making the statement because it's taking ownership of your own body and rejecting the preference of someone who is not yourself. Young women should never do anything that they themselves don't truly love and believe in. If something makes you excited, do it. If you love shaving your armpits, do it. Just make sure it's something that you want to do, and you're not just doing it because of the influence of someone else.
Text Scarlett Costello
Photography courtesy Scarlett Costello