Photo: Bella Jewell

Bloom: an exhibition to normalise body hair

On 28th November, the University of Manchester’s Feminist Collective staged an exhibition in the Students’ Union. The show, curated by students Cicely Spence and Georgia Charlton-Briggs, displayed a diverse collection of vibrant works, all looking to the theme of body hair.

‘Bloom’, which was described as an “exhibition discussing the notions and perceptions of body hair in a contemporary society” displayed portrayals of both male and female subjects, in a broad array of media; from photography to watercolour, to print.

What was clear from looking at the exhibition, was that growth and nature was a key theme incorporated into the works. This left the message that body hair is something intrinsically natural, and therefore beautiful.

In Millie Welbourne’s delicate prints ­– a collection named ‘Gardens’ ­– she displayed several small-scale prints in linear form, all emphasising body hair’s affinity with the natural world. Similarly, Pauline Lecomte’s collection, ‘The Gardener’, depicted body hair as plant growth, with strikingly beautiful effect.

I spoke with Saffiya El Diwany from the Feminist Collective, who described the exhibition as a statement to “normalise body hair, to show the beauty in it and how different people view it.” ‘Bloom’ certainly provided a window into a world in which body hair is nothing but natural, an experience in stark contrast to the conventional depictions of women, especially, as hairless.

‘Bloom’ is a timely exhibition, which seeks to open up discussions surrounding a taboo subject — body hair. With the modern synonymy of ‘beautiful’ and ‘hairless’ being portrayed in the media and popular culture, why not reconsider and reclaim body hair; something utterly normal which has become a source of personal shame for many.

 

Tags: Bloom, body hair, feminism, feminist collective, su

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