'Curated Feminism' is Not Good Enough

“Girl take that money Nike just give and go get yourself waxed."

A Nike ad of a woman showing body hair has sparked a beauty standard debate. 

In recent times it feels like the media has made great strides in the way it approaches, respects and portrays women.

For the most part, it's been a positive progression, but unfortunately, a recent debate over a NikeWomen ad featuring Nigerian-American singer Annahstasia with underarm hair proves there's still a long way to go.

The ad in question showcases Annahstasia with her arm stretched above her head, revealing a small patch of underarm hair with the caption, "Big mood."

Comments ranged from "so glad to see this" to "pretty good but tell her to shave,". 

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Big mood @annahstasia.

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While many applauded Annahstatia's bravery, the distaste was palpable - with many citing cleanliness as the reason for hate. A deeply split reaction such as this conveys that there's still a hugely long way to go when it comes to widespread acceptance. 

This brings us to the notion of Curated Feminism. 

Feminism is defined as the advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. It is, in essence, equality in its purest form as well as the promise to no longer treat women as lesser beings than their male counterparts. 

This means the absence of misogynist shame and the acceptance of women as equal players. Curated feminism is the act of collectively picking and choosing which rights women should have and which they're still not ready for.

This, as an act, is still misogyny at play – and may be a bitter pill to swallow for those who've heralded the election of women to Congress on their social media platforms. 

In 2017, Adidas posted a picture of a model with visible leg hair, and the response to it was just as divided and visceral. As with the Nike ad, many people praised Adidas – but there was also a lot of hate at the same time, and model Arvida Byström even described how she received rape threats as a result of the photo.

A disappointing result – to say the least – in a world that's pioneered tirelessly for equal rights and (finally!) allowed women to join the front row. 

While it does seem slightly trivial to view body hair as the ultimate feminist statement when there are evidently far bigger things at stake in the fight for gender equality. However, it’s a question of policing women’s bodies and our ability to choose.

For such a seemingly insignificant thing, we can only hope it won’t cause so much debate in the future – but it’s clear we’ve got a long way to go.

Main image by @nikewoman

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