Photographer Capturing Women With Unshaven Armpits Faces A Mixed Response

Kyotocot for Natural Beauty by Ben Hopper
Facebook / Ben Hopper

From 2014 through 2018, British photographer Ben Hopper shot a project called Natural Beauty, in which he captured pictures of models with unshaven armpits. On his blog, Hopper claims that Natural Beauty “could be classified as a type of protest” against the beauty industry. “By creating a contrast between common ‘fashionable’ female beauty and the raw unconventional look of female armpit hair,” Hopper writes, “thoughts are intrigued and a discussion is made.”

What does he mean by protesting the beauty industry? Although humanity has struggled with shaving since the early caveman days, women’s armpit razors did not appear until the early twentieth century. In 1915, a company called Milady Décolleté launched the first anti-underarm hair campaign that prompted women to remove “objectionable hair” from their armpits. In contrast, leg-shaving advertisements did not appear until the early 1940s.

After a hundred years of marketing from shaving manufacturers and fashion designers, unshaven armpits have become the norm. Nonetheless, many women in the twenty-first century choose to not shave their underarms because of skin sensitivity, time, or personal preference.

Since Natural Beauty photos appeared in the Huffington Post in 2014, audiences have provided a mixed response. Some find it gross, while others have no problem with it. What do you think about Hopper’s work?