Adidas model gets rape threats over hairy leg photographs

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Amy Swales
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Women having the temerity to go against society’s idea of femininity seem to stoke a special kind of ire on the internet.

And the issue of body hair, of course, is no different – despite the fact that someone’s decision whether to remove something entirely natural from their own person has zero impact on those around them.

Now Swedish model Arvida Byström says she’s received rape threats for appearing with visibly hairy legs in an Adidas campaign.

Writing on Instagram, she acknowledges that as a white fashion model, she’s not often subject to discrimination or abuse.

But after images of her for the brand’s Superstar campaign were released, her social media was flooded with “nasty comments” and threats.

“My photo from the @adidasoriginals superstar campaign got a lot of nasty comments last week,” she wrote on Instagram.

“Me being such an abled, white, cis body with its only nonconforming feature being a lil leg hair. Literally I’ve been getting rape threats in my DM inbox. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to not possess all these privileges and try to exist in the world.”

She added: “Sending love and try to remember that not everybody has the same experiences being a person.”

Byström is also a photographer and aims to skewer ideas of the ‘perfect woman’ and ‘girly’ femininity via her social media. She’s previously posted photographs showing spots, armpit hair, public hair and cellulite.

Paris Jackson and Lordes Ciccone were targeted earlier this year for showing unshaven armpits, while others have long made a point of showcasing theirs in a bid to normalise images of women with body hair – something that verges on the absurd when you think about it.

While there’s a conversation to be had around brands co-opting feminist issues to sell consumer goods, there’s no doubt that more visibility of women who don’t fit society’s sexist beauty ideals is a step in the right direction.

Image: Adidas Original


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Amy Swales

Amy Swales is a freelance writer who likes to eat, drink and talk about her dog. She will continue to plunder her own life and the lives of her loved ones for material in the name of comedy, catharsis and getting pictures of her dog on the internet.