Prominent women’s rights activists in China are calling for women to post pictures of their unshaven armpits to Sina Weibo, a popular Twitter-like social media site, to protest beauty standards.
“Men have more freedom in terms of what to do with their bodies,” Xiao Meili, who in late May started a contest for the best unshaven underarm photo, told the New York Times. “I’m not calling on everybody to grow underarm hair. I’m just saying if some people don’t want to shave, the rest of us should not think their underarm hair is disgusting, unhygienic, uncivil or not feminine enough.”
Xiao and friends are judging the contest, whose website had drawn more than 1.2 million views but only about 40 entries as of Tuesday. (Prizes include condoms, a vibrator and devices that let women urinate while standing up.) Still, some of the women participating are high-profile names: Zheng Churan, Li Tingting and Wei Tingting were three of five women who were detained by police for weeks this past spring before a planned demonstration about sexual harassment.
“The pictures have proved that women can celebrate their bodies, desire and love, whether homosexual or heterosexual, whether their underarm hair is long or short and in spite of raised eyebrows from passers-by,” Wei, who is still monitored by police following her detention, wrote on Weibo.