Women Are Growing Out Their Body Hair For ‘Januhairy,’ A Controversial New Social Media Campaign

by Kim Wong-Shing
Kim Wong-Shing is a staff writer at LittleThings. Her work spans beauty, wellness, pop culture, identity, food, and other topics. She is a contributing writer at NaturallyCurly, and her work has also appeared in HelloGiggles, Lifehacker, Wear Your Voice Magazine, and other outlets. She grew up in Philadelphia, attended Brown University, and is now based in New Orleans.

January is undergoing a new, body positive makeover: “Januhairy.”

This month, women all over the world are taking a break from shaving their body hair.

They’re growing out their armpit hair, their leg hair — if hair grows someplace, it’ll stay there all month long. It’s like Movember, but for women.

According to the Daily Mail, Laura Jackson, a 21-year-old college student from the UK, founded the Januhairy movement. She came up with the idea after growing out her body hair for a drama performance.

“Though I felt liberated and more confident in myself, some people around me didn’t understand or agree with why I didn’t shave,” Laura explained on Instagram.

“I realized that there is still so much more for us to do to be able to accept one another fully and truly.”

Thus, Januhairy was born. Social media is currently full of women embracing their body hair in photos and tweets. The movement will raise money for Body Gossip, a body positive image campaign.

While many women are taking this opportunity to reach new levels of self-acceptance, other people are apparently “disgusted” by the idea.

Laura Jackson is a drama student at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom. She’s the brains behind Januhairy, a month-long campaign to encourage women to grow out their natural body hair.

“I grew out my body hair for a performance as part of my drama degree in May 2018,” Laura explained on Instagram.

“There had been some parts that were challenging for me, and others that really opened my eyes to the taboo of body hair on a woman.”

“After a few weeks of getting used to it, I started to like my natural hair. I also started to like the lack of uncomfortable episodes of shaving,” Laura continued.

But despite her own feelings of empowerment, other people just didn’t get it.

“When I first started growing my body hair my mum asked me ‘Is it you just being lazy or are you trying to prove a point?’ Why should we be called lazy if we don’t want to shave? And why do we have to be proving a point?”

After some thought, Laura came up with the idea of Januhairy, a time for women to grow out their body hair and see how it feels. Even her mom decided to join in!

But Januhairy is much more than just a time for women to post hairy photos on social media.

The social media campaign has also kick-started a public discussion on the topic, which is hugely important. Most of us are raised with biases against female body hair, but that doesn’t mean we have to think that way forever.

body positive

It’s rare to see female body hair in magazines, on social media, or even in real life. So movements like Januhairy are one of the few times when women get to see what other bodies really look like, sans razor. And that helps women feel significantly less alone or “gross” about their own body hair.

Many women on social media are totally on board with Januhairy, especially in the UK and the US.

And not surprisingly, more than a few people are baffled and disgusted.

Some men, for example, claim that shaved skin is more “attractive” to them.

Other women have pointed out that, even if that’s true, it’s completely irrelevant.

Who cares what men — who are often objectively hairier than women — think about female body hair?!

There’s also the fact that body hair naturally grows on most women’s skin. Shocking, I know.

Sometimes it’s thick, and sometimes it’s sparse, but either way, it comes with the package.

Even many women, though, are completely anti-body hair.

The “disgusting or natural” divide has caused some serious arguments all over the internet.

body positive

Some women have taken this opportunity to share their experiences with growing out their body hair pre-Januhairy.

One Twitter user wrote that, somehow, growing out her armpit hair did not have any catastrophic effects on her life whatsoever.

Because believe it or not, it’s just body hair, folks. And while it can make for a startling photo, it’s usually not as noticeable IRL as you think.

Shaving is cool. Not shaving is also cool. You know what’s not cool? Calling someone’s hair “revolting.”

Anyway, if you’d like to donate to the campaign’s fundraiser, you can do so through JustGiving.