A few days ago, illustrator Christine of @yeahitschill posted a new comic in collaboration with @goodbadcomics that celebrates women’s right to style their body hair however they like. Grow it out, shave it off — it’s all fine! However, the body hair comic sparked a lot of negative comments from people who didn’t seem to understand its whole “Do what you want with your own body!” message. The Instagram response got so bad that Christine eventually had to disable comments on the post.
Body hair is an incredibly fraught issue, especially for women. From a young age, girls face pressure to remove hair from certain areas of their bodies in order to conform to societal standards of femininity. Those standards change constantly, and every year, we see seemingly endless articles about shifts in hair trends, for every part of the female body, from eyebrows to pubic hair.
People are so concerned about women’s body hair that choosing to keep one’s body hair — on one’s legs, underarms, and so on — has come to be seen as a Statement that says something significant about a woman’s politics or femininity or body positivity or gender identity. Of course, if someone chooses to style (or, conversely, not style) their body hair for any of these reasons, good for them — But isn’t it weird that a woman's choice not to go through a laborious process of hair removal has to mean anything more than “I don’t feel like shaving” or “Razor burn bums me out”?
With all that baggage surrounding women’s body hair, Christine of @yeahitschill and @goodbadcomics’s comic about the issue is refreshingly straightforward and positive:
Everyone gets to what they want with their own bodies! Seems like a pretty simple thing, right? Er, not for everyone, apparently. Christine told Refinery 29 that her post was greeted with bevy of negative comments. “It started with people telling me I'm gross," she said. "Saying men won't like me. I went to brunch and came back two hours later to 100 new comments that were completely toxic. This was definitely the most negative reaction I've had on any comic.” She said that much of the negativity focused on how men feel about women’s body hair. “It's as if some people don't think women can live a life not concerning herself with how physically attractive she is to random men,” she told Refinery 29.
Christine eventually disabled comments on the post to stem the flood of criticism. Although this negativity aimed at women’s choices about their bodies is maddening, I find it hilarious that people were so upset by a cartoon depiction of hairy legs and arms. I mean, if you're someone who can’t handle an illustration of leg hair, I shudder to think what happens to you when you see women’s legs au naturel out in the wild. Does your head just explode?
Christine's perspective on body hair isn’t complicated: “Human women are mammals. Mammals have hair. Sometimes we take it off, but sometimes we leave it on, and it's not a big deal,” she told Refinery 29. Her comic isn’t demanding that women who like to shave their legs or wax their pubic hair do anything differently. It simply celebrates that women have a choice in the matter. As the comic says, “We do what we want!”