Students Refuse to Pull Photo From Female Body Hair Exhibition

Students Refuse to Pull Photo From Female Body Hair Exhibition
Photo Credit: River.ts

What you need to know

Despite pressure from local residents, National Taiwan University respected the decision by a group of students not to remove an 'erotic' photo at a recent exhibition.

Following complaints by nearby residents, the organizers of a photo exhibition raising awareness of female body hair issues were asked last month to remove a photo showing pubic hair. Despite the pressure, school authorities did not force them to do so.

Twelve students from National Taiwan University (NTU) enrolled in a feminism course were asked a while ago to identify and try to change a current gender issue. After conducting a survey, the students found that “female body hair” was a problem for most people and decided to delve into the phenomenon through a photo exhibition. The team also launched a Facebook fan page, "Imagination of Hairless Women" (對女性的無毛想像), and issued a call for photos of women showing their body hair.

In an interview with The News Lens International, the Imagination of Hairless Women explained its approach.

“We believed that, one, images were the best way to convey the idea of normalizing female body hair; and two, they were also a better way to attract the public and help them understand the issue,” one representative said.

The team chose to post photo submissions on their Facebook page because “we wanted to provide a platform for people to share their stories and for others to relate to the issue of female body hair.”

These photos were only shared on the social media page and were not part of the exhibition.

The 25 pieces shown in the exhibition were shot by a photographer the students had met while they were conducting the survey at the beginning of the project. They arranged three photo shoots and the models were all interested volunteers.

Photo Credit: River.ts

"Imagination of Hairless Women" says they had to turn in an application form when they applied for the exhibition space. The form included the purpose of the show and some works that were to be displayed in the exhibition were also attached.

“However, school authorities didn’t notice that we brought up pubic hair and didn’t ask any questions or make any specific requests,” the group says.

The exhibition opened at NTU on May 30. Soon afterwards, the team received a request from school authorities asking them to remove a photo showing pubic hair because of the "erotic concerns" brought up by nearby residents. The school said the neighbors suggested the exhibition be moved because some children play in the area.

In a Facebook post, the students reaffirmed their original intention and stated their refusal to remove any of the photos. To their credit, the school authorities also explained to the concerned residents that the show was purely for academic purposes.

“After we posted the statement on Facebook, school authorities made it clear that although they hoped we would remove the photo, they would respect our decision [not to do so],” says "Imagination of Hairless Women."

In the end, the exhibition closed on June 5 without a single photo being removed.

The team said it appreciates the support they received on the Internet and during the exhibition. Some members of the audience said they found courage to face their bodies while other started to reflect on the stereotypes they hold toward body hair.

"Imagination of Hairless Women" has already received invitations to curate follow-up exhibitions, but the students hope to spend some time putting together the results of the initial show and determine how they can improve it. They will continue to run the Facebook page and collect submissions.

“For our team, the meaning of this exhibition has gone beyond a school project,” says "Imagination of Hairless Women." "Our goal is to encourage people to reflect on the issue of female body hair and to put an end to the criticism of the bodies of others and one's own.”

Photo Credit: River.ts
Photo Credit: River.ts