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.