This year, LOVE Magazine’s advent calendar video series is all about strong women – so it makes sense that they selected Gigi Hadid for Day 11.
After all, Hadid is in the business of changing the way we view both supermodels and women: just last year, she hit back at those who criticised her for fighting back against a prankster who manhandled her outside a Paris Fashion Week show. Since then, she has written several open letters on body image and teamed up with Reebok for their #PerfectNever campaign, encouraging women everywhere to embrace our bodies and minds in all their imperfect glory.
So, naturally, the model’s LOVE video takes a stand, too.
Directed by Phil Poynter, the clip sees Hadid practicing her freeform: think boxing, basketball, training and stretching.
Just as you’d expect from the model, she dresses for the occasion in a personalised red two-piece – and she rocks wet hair and a smoky eye, too. However, all anyone has really been able to focus on, though, is the fact that her armpit hair is visible in the clip.
“What’s with the armpits?” asked one YouTube viewer.
Another, clearly missing the point of the video, wrote: “Does she have hairy armpits or something?”
Others were baffled, begging for people to “please explain this to me”, while a number of trolls ignorantly dubbed Hadid “a man” for daring not to shave. Some expressed horror at the idea of hairy armpits becoming “a trend for 2018”, insisting it “gives me the shivers”.
Their negativity, though, was nothing compared to the praise Hadid received for using her profile to challenge stigmas about female body hair.
“I love the fact that her armpits are natural in this,” said one woman, “and she looks beautiful.”
Others echoed this sentiment, with one adding: “I love how confident she is with her armpit hair.”
“Love how she’s not afraid to show her natural armpit hair,” said another.
And there were plenty who took aim at the body-shamers, too, with one writing: “All of the anti-feminist comments in this thread are cringey as f**k. How does it affect you if she has armpit hair?
“I’m fine with people not finding it attractive. Who and what you find attractive is completely subjective but don’t actively degrade and put down someone because you personally don’t find it attractive.”
Women only started shaving their underarm hair from around 1915, when the emergence of the sleeveless dress prompted Harper’s Bazaar to advise “the removal of objectionable hair”.
It quickly became the accepted norm for women, so much so that Julia Roberts sparked outrage in the tabloids when she sported a grown-out look at the premiere for Notting Hill in 1999.
Nowadays, though, opinions are changing: according to the 2017 British lifestyles report from market research firm Mintel, fewer women are shaving under their arms than ever before, with a massive 83% of women aged 16-24 agreeing there is too much pressure on women to remove or groom body hair.
These figures chime with a movement that question long-held beliefs about what beauty is, and highlights the pressures exerted by false images of “perfection”. However, as the reaction to Hadid’s video has made clear, there is still a long way to go before the world recognises that how we women choose to treat our body hair is our own choice.
As Stylist’s Anna Brech wrote in her powerful think-piece earlier this year: “It shouldn’t be dictated by outside standards of acceptability, nor raise eyebrows no matter what we do.
“When that day comes, we’ll know we’ve won.”
Images: Love Magazine/YouTube