Female body hair. A stigma, taboo, a social faux pas.
Even in circles that pride themselves on self expression – that brandish their rejections of cultural conventions – the idea of female body hair remains largely uncontested. An almost universal symbol of the societal misfit.
So much is female body hair unaccepted that women have internalised this as a default beauty standard. Removing body hair has long been associated with being neat, well-maintained, and sexualy desirable.
Speaking to women flouting these conventions reveals a complex blend: shame and shaming, control and submission, aggression and passiveness; as a discussion point, the topic reveals how a combination of internal and external forces shape our actions and reactions towards sex, gender and ourselves.
Photographer Joanna Konieczna and art director Zille Bo wanted to explore this topic – so deeply rooted in aesthetics – visually.
A play on a modern fashion photoshoot, typically a medium that consolidates current beauty standards, this project places female body hair in the spotlight, featuring it as a controversial accessory: what does it add? what does it stand for? why is it here?
By executing a polished shoot with a model who does not depilate, the project juxtaposes the subject against its own convention: the unsightly in a context of admiration. The origin of this beauty standard is called to mind. Whom does this convention benfit, and at what expense?
This last question specifically serves to provoke conscious thought, encouraging us to think more critically about visual editorial standards. Or even to reverse the censorship of this socially constructed taboo. Perhaps.
Concept & Photography: Joanna Konieczna / @joanna_konieczna
Art Direction: Zille Sophie Bostinius / @zillebo
Model: Sonia Cytrowska / @bodyhairmovement
Styling: Barbara Ayozie / @fu_safira
Hair: Karoliina Saunders / @karoliinasaunders
MUA: Jesca Li / @jescalimua