The Internet Attacked a Girl for Showing Off Her Armpit Hair

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Glamour and armpit hair can coexist. (Photo: Getty)
One photo has provoked thousands of hateful comments, and the woman at the center of the scandal — Laura De, a Belgian philosophy student — is left to ponder one simple question: why?

Laura incited outrage on social media for daring to bare her hairy armpits in a photoshoot and sharing one of the photos on Facebook. The shoot, which focused on body image, took place in May, according to the Buzzfeed (the original story was published in French on Buzzfeed France). Laura and photographer Florence Lecloux teamed up to make a statement about “society’s expectations of women and their bodies,” according to the site.
This simple photo sparked fury on Facebook. (Photo courtesy of Facebook/laura.defalle)
This simple photo sparked fury on Facebook. (Photo courtesy of Facebook/laura.defalle)
But social media users seemed to miss the point and instead, lashed out when presented with images of women in their natural states. “Good luck with the tarantulas under your arms,” one user wrote in French. “That chick is dirtier than an animal,” another body-shamer chimed in. Others resorted to name-calling, with one vulgar commenter branding Laura “a f***ing slut” and another posting a vomit emoji. According to Buzzfeed, the post received more than 7,000 comments and 6,000 reactions on Facebook as of yesterday.
“Let’s drive this one point home: Women can do whatever they want with their bodies. Whether that be on the outside or inside, it doesn’t matter. If it’s not your body, YOU GET NO OPINION,” wrote one passionate blogger on Elite Daily, in defense of Laura’s look and the photos. Other commenters were equally appalled by the shaming reactions of so many Facebookers. “This is so violent, it’s staggering. I can’t believe that it’s possible to read these kind of comments in 2016,” one person wrote.
The controversy over women and body hair has played out in popular culture for quite a while. Recently, Girls star Jemimah Kirke walked the red carpet at the CFDA Awards, proudly displaying her au natural underarms. And the ever-rebellious has Miley Cyrus posed for photos that showed off her armpit hair — one time even dyeing it pink.

But even respected icons like Barbra Streisand, Madonna, and Sophia Loren have been photographed with hair “under there” — with Loren’s photo photo dating back to her 1960s heyday. Even so, the natural look is a long way from being accepted by mainstream societies around the world.

Lecloux posted more images from the shoot on her Tumblr, where she went into more depth about the intention of her work. According to the English translation on Buzzfeed, Lecloux explained, “I do not often talk about my struggle against the dictatorship of the smooth body .. Let me explain! One of the worst things it is the constant oppression of girls and women having to remove hair / shave on the entire body. Where does this idea to do his hair disappear? Why are valued my long hair but not the rest of my hair? Why waste time and money? Often it hurts, we cut the epilator hard, it pushes it again … It never stops. Why this endless fight? Who can make me hurt me to lose my life for that? Well I have the answer: NO ONE! Nobody has the right to require you to do certain things with your body. Your friends do not have to blame yourself, your lover / partner / .. not to call you a lack of hair, the unknown do not have to disfigure you in the street. Hair removal or not, makeup or not, fashionable or not, it’s only you who decide, not others. Dare, be authentic, you will keep close to you as non-toxic people.”
In response to the backlash, Laura posted another version of the original image — an ethereal shot of her on a swing with her arms raised up, unshaven armpits in full view — with a caption addressing the situation and defending the her stance. According to Buzzfeed, she wrote, “I am a girl who decided to do what she wanted her body. As a boy can do it …And the consequences of this is collective humiliation, harassment, insults, threats… am often told that in Belgium and in France we do not need the feminism, that women have enough rights .. All this violence proves that In Belgium, a country that calls itself free and developed, when a woman wants to say no to waxing it will be punished in any case until she goes inside the standard again. I wanted you tell all: Thank you. The hundreds people who came to support me with their comments, their private messages, their sharing my photos and artistic projects. Girls, boys and non-binary that fight for a fairer world with courage and inflexibility, you are my heroes.”
Photo courtesy of Facebook/laura.defalle
Photo courtesy of Facebook/laura.defalle
Laura followed up with another Facebook post: this time, an image of her hairless armpit with the caption, “My body, my choice.” She added, “I find it extraordinary that in 2016 a woman who posts a photo of herself natural, like a man, becomes the victim of such a bashing.” Buzzfeed notes that Laura has decided to keep all of the photos publicly posted on her Facebook — abusive comments and all. According to Buzzfeed, she said, “I want to show all the violence that comes from a girl saying no, for once, to traditional standards of beauty.”


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