Don’t worry; you’re in a safe space here. Take off your makeup, put your feet up, and let it grow.
You can be rest assured you’re here to be accepted in all your natural glory as we admire Ben Hopper’s intimately engaging pro-armpit hair photo series, Natural Beauty.
Natural Beauty was published in 2014, after a six-year-long process. Hopper developed the idea partly to experiment with and challenge what we expect from women in the beauty industry, and partly because –you better believe it – he is a man who likes armpit hair on women.
Why does natural beauty feel foreign?
This grooming choice that is often frowned upon by many, and even deemed unhygienic by some, led Ben to a fascinating and empowering photography collaboration with a series of incredible women who feel free to do what they want with their pits..
In a way, Hopper’s series acts as a direct contradiction to the status quo showcased in beauty adverts, where we see women fully smoothed over, no cellulite, no blemishes, and definitely no armpit hair. He defends the project on Facebook:
“Although armpit hair is a natural state, it has become a statement. Why is that? Over the past century we have been brainwashed by the beauty industry, encouraging hair removal.
Natural Beauty could be classified as a protest; by creating a contrast between common ‘fashionable’ female beauty, and the raw unconventional look of female armpit hair, thoughts are intrigued and a discussion is made.”
Indeed, the simple fact that we marvel at these pictures of such brave women at all shows that the beauty industry has us fighting against nature to fit in, and when we are shown what natural beauty looks like, it feels foreign.
Leading a natural revolution with… Madonna?
“I really wish I could photograph people like Madonna for it, or Miley Cyrus,” Hopper explains to Metro. “The culture right now has been designed by celebrities, so if you take someone like Kate Moss and she has armpit hair, a lot of women would start growing their armpit hair.”
With this, Hopper nails the crux of the idea of influence in the contemporary fashion and beauty industry. Trends are established by influencers – whatever they have, consumers must have. So, if pillars in mainstream media, be they pop singers or fashion icons, took a different beauty grooming decision, perhaps the rest of the world would alter their perceptions as well.
It’s a logical experiment which is still growing, as Natural Beauty is still accepting submissions and resonating with women everywhere.
However, if you don’t feel brave enough to take part or are doubting your ability as an influencer, let’s end those fears once and for all. Your body is yours and no one else’s. If you don’t want to grow your armpit hair that’s fine. But if you do, that is also fine.
And for those who are worried about the hygiene or sanity of it all, there’s this really cool thing in the 21st century. It’s called soap. I’ve heard it can let you get away with just about anything.
Have a look at the rest of the series below: