Body hair is something that occurs naturally on human bodies, but when it grows in certain places on women, people can get very … emotional.
Lalonie Davis, a 17-year-old college sophmore and illustrator from Los Angeles, had a refresher course on this recently. Last week she shared a selfie to Instagram, displaying a thicket of armpit hair in order to help more girls embrace their body hair and to point out the double standard surrounding the issue. “You don’t have to like it, but please know that misogynistic opinions that shame girls for having body hair while ignoring boys who do will never get me to change who I am,” she wrote.
After calling people who poke fun at body hair “lame,” Davis went on to offer words of encouragement for those women who choose to stay furry (hello, Paris Jackson). “Baby girls don’t ever let anyone ever make you feel bad for being who you are or doing what you want to do. You are deserving of self respect and love no matter the decisions you make with your body. Body hair is normal and so are you. It’s okay to do what you want to do with your body.”
Davis’s comments were a mixed bag, to say the least. On the positive side, one fan shared her own experience with shaving. “This is so beautiful, there is nothing wrong with women not shaving,” she wrote. “This empowers me so much, as I haven’t shaved in forever and I rarely get anything other than criticism back.”
Another expressed how glad she was to see a dark-haired young lady eschew shaving. “I mostly see girls with little blonde hairs saying they’re not gonna shave anymore & gonna be themselves & whatever which is awesome but I’m like, you can hardly see that s**t anyway! But finally I’ve seen someone with dark hair that is more prominent & I relate so much more to you having thick dark hair on your body.”
Others helped to reinforce Davis’s point, advocating to normalize body hair on women. “I think it’s really sad that girls are taught from a young age that we need to maintain a certain image in order to be labelled as ‘feminine’ or even ‘normal’ in today’s standards,” one person offered. “Body hair is a natural occurrence during puberty and It’s sick that girls grow up thinking they need to be hairless in adulthood in the same way that they were hairless when they were 9 years old. Real women have hair and real women aren’t ashamed of it. Keep doin’ you, there’s always somebody out there who won’t agree with your personal opinions or style.”
Still, some people succeeded in proving Davis’s point that antihair stances are based in misogyny, with one clumsily blaming her for “making” men make sexist judgments. “Making men seem like pigs, you bring pigs out of men,” he wrote. “Attack a whole gender for no reason lol…”
Perhaps the most hysteric reaction came from Internet personality Prince Don, who was so distressed by Davis’s photo that he made an entire video waxing poetic about how horrible and unattractive it is for women to have body hair. He claimed he was upset at the fact Davis had the “nerve” to connect the pressure women have to shave to misogyny, saying that not wanting a “hairy girlfriend” has nothing to do with it, and that it’s merely a preference.
Of course, Prince Don not only fails to examine why he has such preferences, but why he’s so offended by women who don’t shave their body hair — especially when he wasn’t checking for them anyway.
But Davis soon found Prince Don’s video and reposted it to her own Instagram page. “I AM SO FLATTERED THAT THIS BOY TOOK TIME OUT OF HIS DAY TO MAKE THIS WHOLE ASS VIDEO EDIT TO DEMEAN WOMEN!!!!” she wrote. “ALSO ‘ITS NOT MISOGYNY’ BUT I’VE NEVER SEEN SOMEONE TELL A BOY TO KILL THEMSELVES FOR HAVING ARMPIT HAIR AND GET DEATH THREATS!!!!!”
Yahoo Beauty reached out to Davis and she told us that she had originally shared a photo of her armpit hair and “happy trail” on Twitter “to express my comfortability with myself and show girls that it’s okay to do what you want to do regardless of how society makes you feel. My intention to post it was not as some big political against our misogynistic society, it was simply to show girls that it’s normal to have body hair even though it’s often shamed and overlooked.” She said that the backlash from that post prompted her to take to Instagram to proudly show off her body hair.
Davis says she’s never been attacked in person for her body hair, but online, she’s faced abuse, though it doesn’t phase her. “I’ve posted pictures of my armpits before, being as it’s my body and I am not ashamed to post about it and [have] gotten slight backlash, but I never received as much backlash as I did for that post being as how viral it became,” she said. “There is no reason for any person to get so much hate for something as normal and natural as body hair. We all have it, men and women alike.”
That fact, she said, made Prince Don’s video all the more bewildering to her. “It’s crazy how offended body hair on women makes people, it’s honestly kind of shocking. His opinions in the video honestly made no sense as he finished it by saying that men are masculine and have hormones that makes them grow hair and we should just deal with it. So… how do women grow hair? Do we plant seeds that make them sprout?”
Still, Davis isn’t letting some mean comments on the internet get her down, or deter her from empowering women and girls to embrace their bodies as they see fit. “I believe that women should define beauty by themselves, not the opinions of others. I believe that women are deserving of self love regardless of whether they fit society’s unattainable beauty standards or not.”
This whole drama is just the latest reminder that people do have strong emotions over hair that’s not even on their own bodies. And the backlash and the vitriol aimed at Davis serves as a strong reminder of her original point: that women are made to feel bad about their body hair, while men are allowed to be as hairy as they please.
Read more from Yahoo Style + Beauty:
- Bella Thorne Claps Back at Man Who Asked Her to Shave Her Legs
- Campaign Asks Women to Grow Body Hair for Antiviolence Awareness
- French Women Say ‘Princesses Have Hair’ to Stop Body Hair Shaming