Women With Body Hair: 16 NSFW Photos Of The Real Deal

Photographed by Blaise Cepis.

Many women see their body hair choices as reflections of their gender, sexuality, and femininity. Today, body hair is often associated with masculinity: Women with thick hair on their arms or faces are deemed "manly" or "unfeminine." Some women, though, are flipping this association on its head — instead viewing their body hair as an important and powerful aspect of their womanhood. And, many of them continue to encounter sexist double standards in response to their choices.

Just this week, Instagram banned the account of Australian online magazine Sticks and Stones after it posted a photo of two young women with their pubic hair peeking out of their bathing suit bottoms. In a discussion with Mic, Sticks and Stones director Ainsley Hutchence attributed Instagram's decision to sexism, stating that men regularly post, without consequence, Instagram photos that reveal a bit of pubic hair. Following media scrutiny around the account ban, Instagram has since reinstated the magazine's account and issued an apology.

Culture's relationship with women's body hair is always in flux. The '90s and aughts served women a highly groomed (and difficult to maintain) vision of hairlessness. Eyebrows were tweezed to pencil-thin lines and the take-it-all-off Brazilian had a moment. Now, sensibilities are swinging back in the other direction, with more women opting for a full brow, a full bush, and lower-maintenance looks for the rest of their body hair. Ahead, we speak with 10 women who are making the choice to skip the shave.

1 of 16
Photographed by Blaise Cepis.
"My hair is very fair, so I used to think 'Oh, wow, I can get away with not shaving.' I kept growing it out and then realized, once you could see it, that I didn’t actually care. I just got really comfortable with it being there."
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2 of 16
Photographed by Blaise Cepis.
"My boyfriend encourages me to have body hair wherever I want. He likes for me to do whatever makes me happy. It’s your body; it’s how you represent yourself."
3 of 16
Photographed by Blaise Cepis.
"I love body hair. I see no reason not to have it if you want it. I stopped shaving my armpits because I realized it's not what made me feminine. I actually felt more feminine with body hair and decided to just run with it.

"It makes me feel great, and I feel even better when I see more and more women are shaving their armpits less, too. Hell yes, ladies!"
4 of 16
Photographed by Blaise Cepis.
"I just reached two years of [growing out] my armpit hair. My leg hair and pubic hair have kind of always grown out. My pubic hair I groom. I have shaved in the past, but I find it very uncomfortable, so I just leave it. And, I like the way it looks."
5 of 16
Photographed by Blaise Cepis.
"I just kept [my armpit hair] for myself, and it was one of the most empowering things I ever did. It feels nice to have it there, and when I see other women with it, like on the subway with their arm up, I feel like we’re part of a secret club or something.

"I definitely used to be shocked if I saw a woman with armpit hair. It’s getting more common...It’s just a little jarring at first, I suppose. Anyone who I’ve been dating, for the most part, doesn’t care. I’ve had some people who do. But, I was never willing to change, because I don’t see the point."
6 of 16
Photographed by Blaise Cepis.
"My arm hair is fairly thick, and it is something that I have felt self-conscious about...I definitely have a little more body hair in general than a lot of people do.

"I also have fairly thick eyebrows; people do compliment me on those... so that’s a great thing."
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7 of 16
Photographed by Blaise Cepis.
"I have a bush. I keep it neat."
8 of 16
Photographed by Blaise Cepis.
"I used to go full-'70s bush, and would do nothing to it, but now I keep it more maintained. My roommate calls hers "the burning bush" and mine is "Downton Abbey" because it’s manicured like a British lawn."
9 of 16
Photographed by Blaise Cepis.
"I was made fun of growing up, for my eyebrows. Someone said I looked like a monkey, which was kind of mean.

"Some women still prefer to be totally groomed, but I think there is a move towards...acceptance of body hair [as] a choice that women are making — that they are fine with just keeping things natural. That is a lot more accepted now.

"My favorite thing about my eyebrows is how strong they are. They make me feel and look strong. And, even though I don’t look like her, when people say that I remind them of Frida Kahlo, it’s really flattering because she is a really amazing painter and a strong woman. Having a kinship with my fellow thick-eyebrowed women is cool."
10 of 16
Photographed by Blaise Cepis.
"[Stopping shaving] had to do with coming out as a queer woman and exploring that identity. But, it also had to do with the fact that I have really sensitive skin. I think a lot of it is a re-imagining of gender and exploring all the different facets of what a woman or what femme presentation can look like. Also, how that interacts with sexuality and how that interacts with other forms of gender presentation.

"As a queer person, I feel like once you start exploring cultural myths, you sort of realize how based in fiction they all are. You’re fed this heteronormative narrative about what life should be, and once you break that down and realize it’s not true and doesn’t work for you, you sort of turn that same gaze to compulsory heterosexuality. Once you see that doesn’t necessarily work for you or it’s not necessarily real, you can turn that gaze to other parts of your life, like beauty routines or...all sorts of social issues. I think it opens your mind beyond the myths."
11 of 16
Photographed by Blaise Cepis.
"Growing up, my arm hair was always kind of embarrassing for me. Probably until I was 15 or 16. Then, I started not giving a shit what people thought. There were kids who would call me 'Larzilla' all the time...I was a fat girl, but that didn’t really bother me. My arm hair or acne was what was really concerning. I feel like I used Nair once or twice to get rid of my arm hair because I was so embarrassed of it."
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12 of 16
Photographed by Blaise Cepis.
"I don’t really shave any part of myself. It makes my skin really bad, I guess. But, I feel like this is how my body is supposed to be.

"Most people, in the summertime, will stare at my armpit hair, which is weird. When you put your arm up and all of these tourists are just dumbfounded... Some people really think it’s gross, but I haven’t had any negative reactions to it. My parents were always telling me to shave, but whatever."
13 of 16
Photographed by Blaise Cepis.
"I moved here from Portland, Maine, and nobody shaved up there. It was so commonplace, especially for women in art school, to just have your armpit hair and leg hair and all of it. I feel like in New York, it just depends on the crowd you run in. I’m friends with the queer community and I kind of exist in that social circle; it’s really not a weird thing there."
14 of 16
Photographed by Blaise Cepis.
"My bush makes me feel mature and feminine."
15 of 16
"I don't really think about my body hair that often. It's just there."
16 of 16
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