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.