Most women can honestly say they've had days when they didn't like their bodies, wished they looked like someone else, or hated having to shave. In the latest installment of the viral video series "What's Underneath Project," one woman hopes to never have a day like that again.
Founded by mother and daughter duo Elisa Goodkind and Lily Mandelbaum, the "What's Underneath Project" series is meant to empower people to share their true selves. In the episodes, people strip down to their underwear, while opening up about about their sense of style, self-image and identity — proving that style isn't what you wear, but who you are.
And in their latest video titled "Sorry Not Sorry, Women Have Body Hair: Petra Collins," 21-year-old photographer Petra Collins gets candid about being a woman, menstruation, and in particular, having body hair.
Like many women, Collins explains she started feeling insecure about her body at a very young age. She thought if she wasn't going to do well in school, she could at least rely on her looks.
But as her body started to change, she felt she no longer fit the mold of what our society stereotypically constitutes as attractive — "skinny and blonde."
“I was starting to grow hair and go through puberty, but I was being told to revert back to what I was like as a child. I just lost total control of the view of my body, and I had a really bad eating disorder.”
Collins would not accept defeat. Instead, she decided to grow out her body hair as a step towards reclaiming the things that make her feel beautiful.
“Not shaving was kind of the first step toward accepting my body as it was,” she said. “I was finally like, ‘wait, why do I do this every day? Why do I buy things every day to get rid of something that my body is just trying to grow? It’s a business, it’s a market, it’s a market of femininity.”
At first, she says she was embarrassed, and worried that people would point it out and comment. But in the end, she realized getting comfortable was part of the process of "deprogramming" herself from buying into societal standards of female beauty.
While Collins is an excellent example of acceptance inside and out, we still have a long way to go before female body hair isn't considered controversial — It's seldom represented as beautiful in mainstream media.
"There’s this one quote that has always stuck with me — ‘You can’t be what you can’t see.' When you’re not being represented it’s like you’re not a real person.”
Fortunately, feminists everywhere are beginning to draw attention to this issue. Recently, women in China even held an armpit hair contest to highlight gender inequality, and the beauty of female body hair.
Through her photography, Collins also hopes to spread the message, and represent the thoughts and experiences that aren't being seen.
Watch Collin's inspiring interview in full below:
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