“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and apparently, the media. Inevitably, society’s standards of female beauty have been shaped by unrealistic portrayals in the media that glorify thin women with minimal body hair. As the vast majority falls short to this inaccurate representation of this female ideal, London-based photographer, Ben Hopper, recruited dozens of models, actresses, designers, and friends to grow out their body hair to protest conventional standards of beauty in his Natural Beauty Series.
“The whole point is contrast between fashionable female beauty and the raw unconventional look of female armpit hair,” Hopper told The Huffington Post. Hooper’s Natural Beauty series emphasizes that women do not need to conform to society’s expectations in order to be attractive. The Israeli-born photographer believes the standards of beauty have been so ingrained into our consciousness that one of his models pulled out of the project last minute because she was so “grossed-out” by her own body hair.
Body hair can be a “beautiful look,” reiterates Hopper, and if his photos happen to surprise people, then that is what he intended to do. These models have not only grown their body hair, but they are also featured wearing minimal make-up in these portraits to emphasize their natural beauty. Hopper considers his project to be a type of protest against the beauty industry as he questions why armpit hair – a natural state – has become a statement.
Growing out armpit hair has been seen in female celebrities such as actress Julia Roberts in the 1999 premier of “Notting Hill.” Like Roberts, Hopper doesn’t want to enforce his personal views on anyone, but only attempts to open people’s minds to the different kinds of beauty. “I'd like people to just question [beauty standards], the whole thing,” he said.