Stop and think for a moment: when was the last time you saw a photo of a woman with visible body hair?
With the occasional exception of armpit hair, which grabbed a slice of the media spotlight last year thanks to the likes of Miley Cyrus and Jemima Kirke, the images we see of women’s bodies are usually completely fuzz-free. This might be because the hair has been forcibly removed, or it’s too fair to see, or some photo editing wizardry has been employed.
You’d be forgiven for thinking women in their natural state were are smooth as sharks, which is obviously not the reality in most cases. This is precisely why we love these photos posted by Twitter user Pakola Papi (@iranikanjari) last month:
Yeah, those Walmart undies look cute and comfy as hell, but what really caught our eye was the hair on her stomach and thighs — and the fact it hadn't been lasered or waxed or bleached to within an inch of its life. It goes without saying that women have the right to do whatever they want with their bodies and the hair on it, but it's not often you see evidence of au naturel female follicular growth, especially on the internet.
Papi's post has since been retweeted almost 1500 times and attracted hundreds of responses, to her great surprise. Unfortunately, and predictably, a lot of the replies were unkind. Actually, they were disgusting — we're talking jokes about Walmart also selling razors (oooph, such biting wit) and her stomach being hairier than a man's (commence eye rolling).
Watch: Aussie singer Christine Anu discusses body image. (Post continues after video.)
However these were countered with hundreds of positive comments from women and men digitally high-fiving Papi for her confidence and thanking her for sharing such a realistic and relatable image:
"You can't even imagine how happy it makes me to actually see a picture of a tummy that. is. actually. like. mine."
"This is my goal, I want to be as confident as you with my body hair."
"Tbh this pic made me so happy to see b/c 1) I'm hairy and 2) there are sooo few ppl out here saying it's okay to be hairy!"
"Thank you ... so mad I grew up ashamed of my body hair. We need more women like this that love themselves for young women to look up to."
Precisely. Women shouldn't be made to feel ashamed about a phenomenon that's perfectly natural and normal — and somehow found itself at odds with society's stringent beauty standards.
Plus, as one user so accurately pointed out — "these boys want a hairless mammal, tell them to start looking for dolphins". (Post continues after gallery.)
Happily, @iranikanjari isn't taking too much notice of the haters.
"I just wanted to say thank you to everybody who's awesome and nice and supporting me. It's really funny because people are so stupid ... I'm a nerd so I don't know why I deserve all this attention but I'm going to take it," she said in a video response in Twitter on Tuesday.
Hopefully, 2016 will prove to be the year people stop viewing female body hair as an oddity or something to be hidden away.
How do you feel about your body hair?