Grow for it! Women are urged to stop shaving in ‘Januhairy’

Lifestyle

Grow for it! Women are urged to stop shaving in ‘Januhairy’

Drama student starts campaign against hairless stereotypes of femininity promoted by Cinderella and Barbie

Yohannes Lowe


Women are letting their body hair grow as part of a “Januhairy” campaign designed to combat stereotypes of feminine beauty.
Laura Jackson, the campaign’s founder, said she is allowing her legs and armpits to go unshaven this month in an attempt to challenge the notion that women should be hairless.
Jackson, a drama student at Exeter University in the UK, said she was inspired to launch “Januhairy” after she embraced her own body hair while preparing for a production in 2018. She claimed girls from a young age are taught to think hairiness equated to masculinity, citing Disney characters such as Cinderella and Snow White.
The 21-year-old said: “We see the stereotype of a woman to be hairless and clean – you get Disney characters and television shows that children all watch and learn from. So, this campaign is about challenging these sorts of opinions. When I was younger I was into Barbie, a toy which lots of little girls aspire to be. Young people look up to Barbie as if they want to be that person. They have smooth legs and when they grow up they see hairless famous people on Instagram and think: ‘I need to be like that to be accepted and loved’. Some women too do not understand a way to break away from that.”
The move follows the success of Movember, a health awareness campaign aimed at men who are urged to grow moustaches throughout November to raise millions globally to highlight issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and men’s suicide.
Jackson said preparations for a university production resulted in a shift in attitude toward body hair as she challenged more women to follow suit by putting down their razors. “I grew my hair out in May 2018 for a production I was in for my drama degree. I felt so uncomfortable at first and conscious of what others thought, but after a while I loved and embraced it.
“The media has a responsibility to reach a wide audience, and I think maybe one day, hopefully, a Disney character will have hair that they can embrace.”
Although “Januhairy” has attracted support from women in seven countries, Jackson admitted she had received a backlash to letting her hair grow, including friends and relatives who accused her of being lazy. She added: “As soon as a woman starts to embrace their natural hair it goes against society’s norms and stereotypes, so people start to freak out. I think ‘Januhairy’ helps people break that and work to support each other and challenge themselves. To critics I say it is 2019 and with so many changes around, why can’t women be hairy? It is completely natural.”
Jackson said she hoped to raise £1,000 for Body Gossip, an educational charity that campaigns on body image issues, and she has attracted support from women in the UK, US, Canada, Germany, Russia and Spain.
Lila Boschet, 21, a fellow drama student from California, told the BBC: “I expect that there will be ... moments where I will feel awkward, but it’s exciting to see where it takes me.”
– © The Daily Telegraph

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