Amber Rose doesn't do anything on accident. So, it should come as no surprise that when the sex-positivity activist posted a glossy photo of herself wearing a black bikini and head-to-toe diamonds, with her pubic hair proudly displayed between her oil-slicked legs, she knew exactly what the headlines would be about — because she made sure of it.
"I had them Photoshop out my tattoos to focus on the bush alone," she told Refinery29 in an exclusive interview. "I feel like as women, we always feel like we need to shave or wax — and if we don't, then we're considered unkempt or unclean or we're gonna smell funny. I believe that it's natural and we shouldn't be ashamed of it."
But that wasn't her only reason. The photo, which was deleted from Instagram before Rose reposted it to Twitter, included the hashtags #bringbackthebush and #slutwalk — to promote Rose's annual event in October, a 3-day conference and march that fights to end sexual violence, gender inequality, and rape culture. Of course, the reactions to her photo alone proved that we still have a long way to go.
"People are very uncomfortable with the female body," Rose says. "It's ok to leak images onto the Internet and people are like, 'Yeah, that's so cool.' But if you actually do it yourself and in a way that's owning your own sexuality, it's almost taboo."
Unsurprisingly, British personality Piers Morgan threw the first stone, tweeting, "Put it away, luv. Thanks." Rose immediately tweeted back with an expertly played Jeopardy reference.
"I wanted to prove a point, and of course arguing with Piers Morgan, who is such a dick... That's why I kept going back and forth with him," says Rose. "I posted a picture of Adam Levine with a woman grabbing his dick and balls, and Piers was like, 'You know that's different because that was for testicular cancer — so that's okay.'" Of course, Rose pointed out that she was also posting her photo for an important cause, but it didn't change his mind. "Men feel like they can do whatever, and show their bodies off constantly, but we can't — that's bullshit," says Rose.
"Umm that's so funny," says Rose, laughing. "I didn’t really do anything crazy to groom it. I just used some soap and some lotion. In that picture, it was just not fully wild and grown out at that time. When I finish getting washed in the shower, I use baby oil gel all over my body [including my bush]."
I feel like as women, we always feel like we need to shave or wax — and if we don't, then we're considered unkempt or unclean.
But Rose is quick to point out that having a bush doesn't make her a feminist — it's about her choice to grow her hair however she wants. "I go back and forth — it really depends on my mood and how I feel," she says. "I was a dancer, so I [used to] shave every day. If you shave every single day, you won’t get razor bumps or anything like that. But that was my job. I pretty much had to because it was how I was making money."
At the end of the day, Rose hopes the image will raise awareness for the cause that's most important to her. "I go far and beyond to piss people off on purpose," Rose says. "That's what I do to bring awareness to Slutwalk and what's going on. The fact that there are double standards, that women are not allowed to own their sexuality and their bodies. We can’t possibly be sexually confident, because then we're whores. We're not allowed to have a past. We're incapable of love if we’re too beautiful or if we’re too successful. It's all really, really fucked up."
And it's more important to call it out today than ever. "I feel like there are so many new feminists this year because of Trump," Rose says. "There are a lot of people who suffer from [sexual violence] who didn't even know what it was. That's why I just keep pushing because I see it every day. I love women and I just want to help and keep fighting the fight for feminism." One bush selfie at a time...