Ashley Graham's New Naked Selfie Is Sparking a Sexist Debate on Instagram

Louisa Ballhaus
·3 min read

Ashley Graham, a plus-size model and new mama who has placed herself squarely at the forefront of the body positivity movement, has continued to show the love to her gorgeous naked body in pregnancy and beyond, today showcasing a set of snaps in celebration of her 33rd birthday (oh, and that other thing). While she gave us a peek at many aspects of her life in quar (snuggly snaps with husband Justin Ervin! baby Isaac!), there are a couple square inches that definitely captured the public’s attention more than most — the patch of armpit hair visible in the final sultry nude. And look, we’re all for the love and positivity streaming her way, especially from others who like to grow out their own body hair. But isn’t it terrible that a mom’s unshaven underarm is even a conversation? That there are people commenting who have faced actual judgment for their body hair in 2020? Graham’s latest nude may be hitting back at unrealistic (read: sexist) beauty standards for women — but in 2020, it’s embarrassing that these two inches of hair are all it takes to for someone to be making a statement.

If this, too, is activism, then Graham has been an armpit-hair activist for a while now, giving a blessing to her fellow grown-out ladies on a recent Instagram story: “For all the ladies out there who did not shave their pits basically their whole pregnancy or at least until the end, I haven’t shaved since my last public appearance, which was [The Tonight Show Starring] Jimmy Fallon [in December 2019].”

Ashley Graham Instagram
Ashley Graham Instagram

So, what’s the problem? Well, where there’s a woman defiantly embracing a part of her body, you’ll find a whole bunch of trolls with something to say about it — and sadly, that’s exactly what Graham’s comment section revealed. Among the nuggets of love there were comments to “shave that” and saying that women who grow their armpit hair out are “gross” and “unhygienic” (the latter is simply factually untrue).

The next time I am forced to endure people talking about the body hair choices of a celebrity, it better be a full bush tucked into a G-string while accepting an Academy Award. I’m exaggerating, but only barely: I really want us to do better. This tame little patch of underarm hair is the neatest, cutest, most groomed looking bit of ungroomed body hair I’ve ever seen in my life, and it’s sitting on the body of a naked supermodel. Every time we suggest Graham breaks a boundary with this photo, we consent to there being a boundary of attractiveness between a supermodel who did shave her armpits and a supermodel who didn’t. Collectively, I think we have higher ceilings to shatter.

Before you go, click here to see all the celebrities who welcomed babies in 2020.

Alec Baldwin, Hilaria Baldwin
Alec Baldwin, Hilaria Baldwin

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