Fine Art and Curating student, Georgia Charlton-Briggs, is challenging the taboo surrounding female body hair. In her striking photographic series ‘Exploring boundaries within body and facial hair within a contemporary society’, she depicts body hair in different settings, both male and female, in order to examine “the role of hair within different genders.”
Georgia poses the questions, “why, as women, must we strive for a bare, smaller appearance, mimicking that of a child? Why is hair considered a sign of power and sexuality when shown on men?” Indeed, the depiction of both male and female body hair places this double-standard under the spotlight.
Georgia characterises the societal pressure to remove body hair as something which “stunts our development within feminism while removing parts of ourselves we are also adding barriers to ideologies people have surrounding our rights.”
By focusing on this recent cultural phenomenon, Georgia reflects on how this normalised part of many women’s beauty regimes is “a trend that started through the fantasy of pornography,” she further states that “it is expected, so much so that women’s body in its natural state has become a fetish of its own.”
The ritualised hair removal process creates disturbing connotations surrounding the natural female condition. Georgia describes how the process represents “a ‘preparation’ for sexual activity” as if one must be hairless to be sexually appealing, “or to achieve ‘cleanliness,” when in reality it is leaving your body at risk and is distinctly associating hair growth with dirtiness.
In calling for societal and legal changes surrounding both the representation of body hair and pornography, Georgia rejects this “perverse ideal” of hairlessness, describing it as “a direct hyper-sexualisation of women and children.”
Yet body hair isn’t the only feminist issue that the student artist confronts in her work, in another photographic series – ‘Exploring Femininity / De Humanisation / Hyper-sexualisation of women today’ — Georgia explores how these three societal outlooks of women intersect. The black and white photographs are curious in the way they capture all three ‘values’, highlighting how women are cast as anything but autonomous individuals.
In other works, Georgia questions the modern pressures of ‘dating culture’ and rejection of protected sex, reflecting on her own personal experiences.
Overall Georgia’s frank photography directly focuses upon taboo subjects which tend to remain unquestioned. By using her feminist lens, she brings to light the modern challenges that women face in a society which has been warped by porn.