If you’ve been neglecting your typical beauty regimen over the past few months, you’re in good company. With many salons still closed and waxing appointments cancelled due to COVID-19, women are experimenting with body hair removal treatments at home—or ditching it entirely.
Mary Jelkovsky, a self-love and body positivity influencer, is one woman who is embracing her natural body hair, and she's not shy about showing it. But in classic internet fashion, her attempt to embrace the natural look was met with plenty of pushback.
On June 15, Jelkovsky took to Instagram to share three photos of herself posing in her underwear. She purposely let some of her pubic hair show, explaining that she's given up shaving.
"Friendly reminder that you don’t owe the world a shaved body, a skinny body, a tanned body, a curvy body, a fit body, a young body, a small body, a tight body, or any body that is different than your own," she wrote in her caption. "You don’t owe the world your beauty. The world is lucky to have you, exactly as you are right now."
She went on to explain that she hasn't shaved her body hair in over a month, and as the result, she's never felt more feminine.
“I thought, 'Who am I doing this for?' and I realized that it wasn't for myself," Jelkovsky tells Health of shaving. "Part of my recent body acceptance journey has involved embracing more of my natural self: less makeup, less time spent doing my hair, less brain space spent thinking about beauty. And shaving is one of those taboo things. I thought I'd be grossed out if I just let it grow out and at first, I was. But then once I got used to it, I realized that it's nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone has body hair.”
Despite her body positive message, some of her followers were not impressed by her display of body hair on social media. Jelkovsky says that within hours of posting the photo, she lost over 2,000 Instagram followers.
"Most all of my followers are women, so it goes to show how uncomfortable people are with body hair," says Jelkovsky. "On the bright side, I also gained new followers. I love that with every feminist-style post I actively repel certain people and attract those who I actually want in my space."
But plenty of her followers were supportive of her message, and they responded with positive comments thanking Jelkovsky for encouraging body positivity. "This makes me so happy," one person wrote. "I get the worst in-growns but shaving is so expected. It's irritating so thanks for sharing this!"
Another commented, "I struggle with being called disgusting for not shaving and it makes me feel so bad…this made my day thank you so much."
"I hope that women realize that we don't owe the world our beauty," she says. "We weren't put on this planet to be 'pretty.' We have so much more going for us and the more time, energy, and money we spend on our appearance, or thinking about it, the less capacity we have for things that really matter to us."
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