Body hair is perfectly natural. (Photo: Getty Images)
The French teen told the Guardian she had “suffered enormously” from teasing about her body hair by her peers and wanted to turn the tables on social media. Labo recently launched the body positive hashtag #LesPrincessesOntDesPoils (#PrincessesHaveHair) on Twitter, where it quickly became the platform’s top trending topic. More than 25,000 mentions have poured in over the past several days and, prompted by Labo, French women shared their thoughts and photos showing off their natural hair growth in support of the teen’s campaign. “I think society stigmatizes women,” she explained. “There is massive social pressure over body hair.”
Teen Adele Labo is fighting back against the social pressure to remove body hair. (Photo: Instagram/Adele Labo)
For hundreds of years, women have sought to eliminate more and more hair from their bodies. Ancient Egyptian and Greek women used natural waxes to take it all off, while women from Rome used razors and depilatory creams. During the Renaissance, gals had a book of household recipes that contained methods for hair removal. By the 1900s in America, with the dawn of bikinis and female-specific razors, women were plucking and shaving even more.
Due to hair removal’s long and storied past, body hair is not typically seen as feminine — and is definitely stigmatized, according to psychologist and counselor Karla Ivankovich, PhD. “Many girls learn very young that there is an entire depilatory business out there of waxing, threading, bleaching, laser removal, and so on,” she tells Yahoo Beauty. “No expense too great, because it is [seen as] humiliating. Excess hair is considered a male trait, and it’s a stigma that is pervasive across cultures.”
That pervasive image of the hairless beauty is tough to change. We will likely continue to wax, shave, pluck, and zap our way toward that ideal, says Ivankovich. However, social media campaigns like #LesPrincessesOntDesPoils remind us of a couple of important points.
First and foremost, as evidenced by all of the photos of support, let’s not forget that body hair is totally natural — on the arms, legs, upper lip, underarms, brows, and tons of other locations, in varying amounts and colors.
Every woman has hair before she picks up her first razor or set of tweezers — even the smooth-skinned and lasered stars we see on TV and in magazines. “People don’t get that celebrity beauty is not always achievable,” Ivankovich says, noting they have teams of people who help them remain hairless (or just appear that way in airbrushed photos).
Second, it’s important to recognize this hairy stigma has been placed upon a woman’s natural state. What has become normalized is the extreme ideal, erring on the side of impossible perfectionism. “We need to learn to cut each other slack,” Ivankovich says. “That takes age, experience, and awareness to offer and accept. We also need to try and focus on the things that matter — and at the end of the day, the body doesn’t matter as much as what you do in it.”
Hats off to Labo for starting a little body-hair revolution. The tweets are still swarming in.