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Artist Ben Hopper presents: “Natural Beauty”

Maya Felix

Last month I previewed the first ‘official’ image from my long overdue project “Natural Beauty”.

Yesterday, I finally premiered 8 images on The Huffington Post, 6 of them was never published before.
You can see them below or go to the original post on The Huffington Post via link above.

Although armpit hair is a natural state it has become a statement.
Why is that?
For almost a century we have been brainwashed by the beauty industry, encouraging hair removal.

“Natural Beauty” could be classified as a type of protest.
By creating a contrast between common ‘fashionable’ female beauty and the raw unconventional look of female armpit hair thoughts are intrigued and a discussion is made.

Alessandra Kurr. Designer.

Slant Array. Model.

Olivia Murphy. Fashion student, model.

Ruby Bird. Producer, costumier.

Emilia Bostedt. Actress.

Rakel Lindgren. Actress, model.

Ayan Mohamed. Graduate architecture student.

Fruit Salad

Louise Raines

Charlie Barker

Cassia Tsura. Performer, artist.

Emily

Stephanie Tripp

This project has been in the works since 2007 but only lately I realised the aesthetics I was happy with.

With this studio setup I can focus on the idea with no distractions. It took me years until I was happy with the aesthetics, it’s quite funny. I preferred to wait until I’m 100% satisfied with it.
Again, the idea is contrast. The images are much more powerful that way. At least in my humble opinion.

Currently looking for more females to photograph. Please email me if you’re interested or have any questions: therealbenhopper@gmail.com

Here are few examples of the photos I’ve taken since 2007:

Amanda Palmer. Musician.
“Natural Beauty” research (2010).

Maleficent Martini. Singer, ballet dancer, model. "Natural Beauty” research (2009).

Maleficent Martini. Singer, ballet dancer, model.
“Natural Beauty” research (2009).

Suraya. "Natural Beauty” research (2011).

Suraya.
“Natural Beauty” research (2011).

Julianne Popa. "Natural Beauty” research (2011).

Julianne Popa.
“Natural Beauty” research (2011).

Justyna Neryng. Artist. "Natural Beauty” research (2009).

Justyna Neryng. Artist.
“Natural Beauty” research (2009).

I’d like to thank everyone who have been a part of this project and been very patient with me. Special thanks to Isaac Saul @ HuffPost.
The project is photographed on a Mamiya Leaf Credo 80 camera.
I will post more images from the ‘research’ phase in the near future.

Since the publication of the project on HuffPost on April 7th, the project has been getting press worldwide.
Here’s a list of the ones I’m aware of so far:
Aktuálně.cz (Czech Republic)
Andro (Greece)
AOL
Arco da Velha (Portugal)
aufeminin (France)
Bored Panda
BUST
Bustle
BuzzFeed
BuzzWok
Codigo Nuevo (Spain)
Cosmopolitan (Germany)
Cosmopolitan (UK)
Coyote Chronicle (CA, USA)
Creative Life (Czech Republic)
crushplate
Dagens.dk (Denmark)
DailyMail (UK)
Delbart (Norway)
DesignTAXI
EL TIEMPO (Colombia)
ELLE Serbia
Emol (Chile)
FITFLAIP FB
Glamour Magazine
GQ (Germany)
HLN (Belgium)
HuffPost (Germany)
HuffPost (UK)
HuffPost (USA)
HuffPost FB main
HuffPost Live
HuffPost Women FB
ITV Loose Women
La Repubblica (Italy)
Le Figaro (France)
Life Behavior (Brazil)
Lost at E Minor 
Mako (Israel)
Medical Daily 
Melty Fashion (France)
Metro (Russia)
My Daily 
N24 (Germany)
Noticias Caracol (Colombia)
Panorama(Italy)
PlayGround Magazine
PolicyMic.com
Quil Magazine
refinery29
Reshet (Israel)
RocketNews24 (Japan)
Saloona (Israe)
Schweizer Illustrierte (Switzerland)
Sin Embargo MX (Mexico)
Sin Embargo MX FB (Mexico)
Slashed Beauty
Stern (Germany)
Telegraph (UK)
The Gloss
The Hodgetwins
Visual News
Vivas (Finland)
Women’s Rights News FB
Yahoo Canada Shine
Yahoo Lifestyle

Comments (33)
  1. scallywag April 8, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    But if Ben Hopper is taking a stand on what counts for natural beauty why not also use models who are not thin and attractive as the ones we see in the fashion world, the very world that Ben Hopper wishes to challenge?

    Hair is a personal choice and our reaction to it differs from person to person but a continuity of perpetrating the thin gamine model as the owner of ‘natural beauty’ is deceptive…. and not really answering the question Hopper asks but capitulating.

    http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2014/04/ben-hopper-natural-beauty-hairy-armpits-make-skinny-girls-hot/

    • megan April 9, 2014 at 4:52 am

      I completely agree with you. These models are much too thin!

    • kalila April 9, 2014 at 7:38 am

      Agree. Amanda Palmer is the only ‘real’ woman here…

    • Panting cat April 9, 2014 at 5:14 pm

      Oh shut up. Always someone bloody moaning. Why don’t you go out and shoot plus-size models with hairy armpits, minges and the lot, and take your own stand instead of armchair-critiquing others.

    • Rina April 10, 2014 at 4:31 pm

      I agree completely, and would also have liked to see something other than armpit hair. Facial hair, leg hair, scars, big noses… there are SO MANY things that are completely normal about our bodies that society has told us are unacceptable.

    • benhopper April 26, 2014 at 5:44 pm

      please read the blurb of the project
      and you can talk directly to me, it’s my own blog :)

    • enfilmigult May 20, 2014 at 10:46 pm

      He explains why right there in the post, sheesh. “By creating a contrast between common ‘fashionable’ female beauty and the raw unconventional look of female armpit hair thoughts are intrigued and a discussion is made.”

    • BeccaLeeny August 1, 2014 at 9:15 am

      I see your point but Ben says right near the beginning of the article ‘By creating a contrast between common ‘fashionable’ female beauty and the raw unconventional look of female armpit hair thoughts are intrigued and a discussion is made.’ What I interpret this as is the idea of using models who just about conform to fashion world ideals in most other ways because it isolates this one issue, which makes it perhaps slightly less shocking and certainly more accessible to those who have accepted the ideals of the fashion world – in other words they’re more likely to give the idea some thought rather than dismissing it straight away. I personally think it’s very true that you can’t just throw out all the ideals people have grown to accept in one go and expect them to go with it – we’re defensive creatures in that sense.

      Also, to those who are saying things like they are all much too thin or Amanda Palmer is the only ‘real’ woman here – I am a young woman who is about the same size as most of the ‘too thin’ models shown above but who eats a very ‘normal’ diet (probably closest to that of a teenage boy if I’m honest, although I do make some effort to be healthy) and does some but not excessive amounts of exercise – in other words, I am this size (a UK size 8) because it is my natural body type and not because of obsessive food and exercise habits. Am I not a ‘real’ woman? I respect that the media does not give a fair representation of the range of women’s body types but that does not mean that it’s fair to label all thin women as not being ‘real’ women. Some of us naturally are thin and to me it’s not the only beautiful body type but when it’s healthy, which it definitely can be, it is another beautiful body type. And frankly, although it’s hard to tell in a black and white photo, these women look fairly healthy to me.

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  4. Melissa April 9, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    I have to say that everyone can only focus on the fact that the models are thin. I would say healthy. You can’t tell what size someone is by looking at the photos, most probably are an 8 or a 10 or 12. They all seem thinner, but i still say healthy, and that could be because they are aware of what they do with their bodies, this includes what they put into it. I am willing to bet that most of these women do not eat alot of processed foods (there goes 20 pounds and lots of puffiness) they are very conscientious – obviously if they have given up on the modern ‘expectatins’. Good for them. Good for me. Stop focusing on size people!

  5. Melissa April 9, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    Personally as an American (so much more criticism) who doesn’t shave their pits, I say THANK YOU! I am constantly berated and made fun of for arm pit hair. It takes guts to show if off and be proud of it. I find it amusing (and pathetic) when people give me a hard time. MY body, MY choice. Don’t like it, look away. I am super healthy and super aware of my body. I like who I am (pit hair and all) and that’s what matters!

  6. Hanna Blomberg April 10, 2014 at 9:44 am

    I just wanted to tell you that your work reached me here in Sweden, and I can’t tell you how much it means to see art like this. I believe this is exactly what the world needs, to show a variety of beauty. To show beautiful women with beautiful body hair. We need to chance this view that women are hairless. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

    • Lover May 15, 2014 at 8:50 am

      The work of Ben Hopper reached many people around the word. How is a view of women with body hair in Sweden? Recently I met two swedish women, both with body hair. I was really surprised. I didn’t expect it but was a nice change.

  7. curious April 10, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    who is the model Katerina?

  8. Pingback: Artist Ben Hopper presents: “Natural Beauty” | Ben Hopper's Blog

  9. fausto April 12, 2014 at 7:37 am

    I really appreciate women with underarm hair or wool. Post in the future a lot of photos? good weekend

  10. Donna April 22, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    I am overjoyed to see these comments on this brilliant project! I have been offended by the idea that my body hair was somehow unclean or disgusting for years now but wasn’t quite able to break my conditioning. I was a teenager in the ’60s when my mother gave me the ‘talk’ about shaving and made it quite clear that it was a ‘natural’ part of being a woman. I was 50 when I first started questioning that and it took almost 10 years of trying to get secure enough within myself to say “enough!”. It’s been 2 years now since I’ve shaved and last summer was the first time I wore shorts without worrying that everyone was looking and judging. As a photographer I can appreciate the art and technique in Ben Hopper’s work but as a woman, I find it brilliant! Thank you for showing beautiful women in their natural form!

  11. emma May 6, 2014 at 11:26 am

    although i really appreciate the thought and the process …. i was just a little disappointed to see that most of the chosen advocates for “natural beauty” were still wearing an alarming amount of make up and fake lashes etc in the pictures…
    one small step …but lets go further in liberating women from society induced ideas of beauty ! i hope one day we will get there . but yeay for arm pits !! thank you for the hard work and the beautiful images !

  12. RP May 7, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    Thanks for this photoshow – I loved it. As a mom of three teenage daughters, I have tried to curb the obsession that they must live up to false beauty standards. We wear very limited, if any makeup and if we don’t want to shave our armpits, so be it! Who we are is demonstrated by our natural lifestyle, including organic eating habits and homemade beauty products – “if you can’t eat it, you shouldn’t be rubbing it into your skin”. I must add that we are constantly under fire by a grandmother, aunt or cousin who believes that it’s a disgrace to cut your own hair, forget to shape your eyebrows, and show up to an event without a professional manicure. We say NO WAY! By the way, not a day goes by when we are not complimented by neighbors and strangers alike.

  13. Daryl May 16, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    Natural? You mean they were born with the tattoos, piercings, and cuttings?

  14. Ursa June 7, 2014 at 5:27 am

    Why are we all so congratulatory of a man admitting that body hair is okay? This is ridiculous. Nice photographs, but this is not revolutionary. Women need to stop waiting for men to tell them what is acceptable. Do whatever YOU want.

  15. Allison June 8, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    this is beautiful and confirming of a belief i hold being ‘if hair isn’t suppose to be there it wouldn’t grow there’
    some see it as unclean, some see it as being lazy, i see it as a recent invention that pumps money/ time and energy into an industry fuelled by someone else’s standard and concept of beauty.
    so thank you,
    please do another one with both pit and leg hair

  16. Robson June 11, 2014 at 11:53 am

    Hello Ben,
    I really enjoyed and admired your project- normalising and beautifying our own bodily functions such as hair growth can definately be part of an important liberating process. However I think that unintentionally your project participates in racist notions of beauty. All of the models you have photographed have facial features which adhere to the typical caucasian beauty standard(and and your photos are of predominantly white people). This in itself is not really an issue for me, but the title ‘natural beauty’ should imply a universality, and what happens when you fall outside of that very specific standard. On a subconcious level, does that encourage thoughts and logics that you do not have access in your own body to any of what is connoted in the term ‘natural beauty’. While your photographs are liberating in some ways, they seem to be overly pertinent to a very specific part of the population, and exclusive to another. Beauty standards are a powerful part of structures of racism!

    • benhopper August 20, 2014 at 6:42 am

      hi the only reason the ‘variety’ of females is limited is because i couldn’t find more models to shoot
      i was on a schedule and deadline for huffpost – finding 8 model lookalike females with armpit hair in one month is difficult enough :)
      the project is still on-going and the plan to to photograph more people with more looks…

  17. Austin June 13, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    I know it’s not going to make as big of an impact on young women if you were to photograph actual sized women, but I am a size 8, and I’m absolutely stunning armpit hair and all… I’m not a musician or a model, I am just an ordinary woman with an ordinary job in southwest Florida. Where are the photos of women like me?

  18. Warren bishop June 18, 2014 at 10:44 pm

    We have shaved our woman into “de-erotict dolls creating an ersatz non threatening “sexuality”….the Islam and Hasidim impose the same taboo of hair to ostensibly dissipate their societies of male desire putting the onus on the woman the perennial Jezebel

  19. Loops October 13, 2014 at 8:28 am

    Hi Ben! Thanks for beautiful photos! My 13 yr old daughter had a lesson in ‘health’ today where the male teacher was showing how people from different cultures have different notions of beauty.eg foot binding, neck rings, lip discs. He then produced a pic of a woman with armpit hair. Cue exclamations of disgust from class of teenage girls. My daughter was bewildered and unprepared for the hostility expressed. (I have always had armpit hair and it seems normal enough to her). The teacher says it is just something in our culture, maybe not every culture. The class then challenged the teacher – ‘but would you date a woman with armpit hair?”
    ‘No I probably wouldn’t” says the teacher…..oh dear! ‘How shallow’ my daughter said to me later. But we just looked at these pics and it was lovely to sees these lovely young women complete with armpit hair, because sad to say,I’m guessing that probably I’m the only woman she has ever seen with armpit hair up to now…..So thanks for your work!

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