With 2019 approaching and mantra of ‘new year, new me’, Laura Jackson, founder of January, is offering a new approach to resolutions. Januhairy aims to encourage women to embrace their body hair all whilst raising money for charity and broaching challenging questions. Lowri chatted to Laura about the topic and all things hairy.
What inspired you to start this experiment?
I wrote and performed a one-woman show in May 2018 all about the ideologies of being a woman and grew out my body hair for this performance as part of the show. There had been some parts that were challenging for me, and others that really opened my eyes to the taboo of body hair on a woman. Some of us don’t like it, some of us do… but we are all still feminine, hygienic and beautiful, no matter how smooth or hairy. After a few weeks of getting used to it, I started to like my natural hair. I also started to like the lack of uncomfortable episodes of shaving. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to start to grow out my body hair if I didn’t have a strong enough reason to do so. However, Januhairy was a more recent idea. I went to a talk on the ‘Politics of body hair’ at the Woman of the World festival in Exeter this September. In this discussion with a group of other women, I realised that there is still so much more for us to do to be able to accept one another fully and truly. Then I thought of Januhairy and thought I would try it out. It’s a start at least . . .
How have your family and friends reacted to the project?
I have had a lot of support from my friends and family! Even though I had to explain why I was doing it to a lot of them which was surprising, and again, the reason why this is important to do! When I first started growing my body hair my mum asked me “Is it you just being lazy or are you trying to prove a point?” . . . why should we be called lazy if we don’t want to shave? And why do we have to be proving a point? After talking to her about it and helping her understand, she saw how weird it was that she asked those questions. If we do something/see the same things, over and over again it becomes normal. She is now going to join in with Januhairy and grow out her own body hair which is a big challenge for her as well as many women who are getting involved. Of course a good challenge! My dad is my biggest supporter . . . he also didn’t understand this step away from the social norm of a hairless woman until I helped him understand. Now he calls himself a feminist and always calls me with great ideas for how to promote Januhairy! This isn’t an angry campaign for people who don’t see how normal body hair is, but more an empowering project for everyone to understand more about their views on themselves and others.
How many people do you expect to participate at the moment?
There are about 50 women who have signed up so far but as there is only one day left I don’t think the number will reach further than that. I was expecting there to be at most 10 women wanting to actually sign up so this is amazing!! There are girls from all over the world as well as dotted around England e.g. USA, Canada, Germany, Russia and Spain! It isn’t just about the signing up though; the people watching this project are just as important to mention. After all that’s what this is about, changing opinions!
How can we encourage more women and girls to accept their body hair?
I think it starts with loving and accepting ourselves. When I think about how my own shaving obsession started, it was always about comparing myself with other women and what they did. If I saw other women embracing and loving their body hair at that time, then I might have done too. Hopefully, this project will help other women see that this is nothing more than loving and embracing our authentic selves. Of course, I don’t think all women should all be hairy forever, but we should feel like we have a choice. And feel accepted for whatever choice that is.
Can you tell us a little more about the charity you’re working with?
‘Body Gossip is a charity that combines Arts and Education to empower everybody to be the best version of themselves and rock their own brand of gorgeous!’
More information on body gossip is found on their website: https://www.bodygossip.org/home
The support from sponsors will help Body Gossip further their education program, aiming to change young minds and their views on their bodies. It is evident that body image has a large impact on all of us, this is especially challenging in school environments. We are taught how to do many things at school, all to benefit our futures, we are moulded into what we believe we should become, rather than accepting ourselves for who we are first, and this starts with our bodies.
This is very relevant to what Januhairy is about and also a fantastic cause that I think a lot of people would definitely want to support!!