The answer is of course: I expect so.
In turn the next question is “I’ve got stubbly armpits, does that automatically make me a feminist?”
Putting aside the fact you don’t have to watch every cycle (get out of here with your ‘series’) of America’s Next Top Model - Tyra Banks likes to have at least one “jolie-laide” lecture per cycle - to know high fashion adores the different and seeks out the freakish. The Guardian had come up with a list of models who don’t match up to their usual model mould.
One model was in her 80s, another plus sized and 29. The FHM confusing model Andrej Pejic also featured, beside Jourdan Dunn. Oh, is she in there because she got pregnant just as her career was taking off? No. Her ‘breaking the mould’ label is “The Black Model”.
Well this is getting depressing, let’s quickly link it all to feminists and hair.
Another model who is apparently breaking the mould is Charlotte Free. Free came to everyone’s attention as the model who evoked the 1990s in a flattering, candy pink haired, light.
But it isn’t the rosy tresses on her head the Guardian cares about.
It’s an image taken by discomforting photographer Terry Richardson of Free licking her be-fuzzed armpit. “It's a powerful image. Is it a feminist statement?” asks the Guardian. Happily, Free says she is a feminist, which is fortunate because that’s what the Guardian has pigeon-holed her as.
“It's an equal rights thing. It's ridiculous that women have to shave their armpits and legs every day. I don't have time. I think it's asinine that men have this standard that women should be perfectly shaven.”
I realise feminism is often defined by a hairy pit or dungarees, which is beyond simplifying the cause. It’s quite refreshing to see a young woman refuse to shave her legs, bikini line or arm pits with any regularity. Perhaps come Movember, Free will join us in our No Shame November.
However as Patti Smith proves and the Guardian should know, a furry underarm does not a feminist make.
Not only is this is the least hairy hairy armpit I’ve ever seen in my life, the photographer’s brief name check seems to be dropped a little too quickly to get to the feminist goal.
I’ve not linked to the actual photo the Guardian is discussing because that would require me to link to Terry Richardson’s site. It seems to me this was a missed opportunity.
Normally I shy away from what a feminist can or can’t do or be because feminism is about choice. You can be a model and a feminist. You can shave and be a feminist. I struggle, however, when it comes to: You can model for Terry Richardson and be a feminist.
Considering Free is praised in this feature for her beliefs and actions regarding other young girls in the industry:
“I'm not scared of anyone. I stand up for other girls in the industry. If I see someone taking pictures backstage, I'll grab their camera, expose their film or delete all the photos. If you're taking photos of 16-year-old girls naked, you will not get away with it. It's paedophilic."
It seems peculiar that interviewer Becky Barnicoat did not use this comment of Free’s to ask why she agreed to pose for Richardson. The same Terry Richardson whose repeated shtick of white background, harsh lighting, and under-dressed young girls is something the fashion industry has yet to tire of.
A few models, who should be praised, instead of irritably mentioned in various Terry Richardson profiles, have come forward to discuss Richardson’s exploitations of young models. The feminist site Jezebel frequently covers his less flattering adventures, questioning why he is still so lauded.
Bushy or absent it’s been volumised (wah-wah) to such heights we seem to honestly believe it’s of all importance. I don’t know about you but I tend not to pay heed to the political persuasions of my pits.
Can we be feminists and bejewel our bald princesses? Yes. Can you oppose feminism as all the while a buoyant muff nestles betwixt your legs? Oh, if you MUST. But how can you fuss over foofs and pry into pits whilst a man defends his sex pest actions as art?