Louise Raines for "Natural Beauty"
“I first stopped shaving because it was irritating my skin and I wanted to give it a rest. After that, I decided to just let it grow and see what happens. I then stopped shaving altogether and let it alter my perception as it went.
Previously I felt like I had to shave every last hair from my armpits and legs, as it's what you're 'supposed to do'. People were picked on at school for being more hairy than other people, even before it became time for some hair to grow in. People are pointed out in the street for any difference anyone seem to find, and it seems okay for people to laugh and stare.
I have had it pointed out to me negatively several times over my life, that my arms are slightly hairier than some other people’s, as if that's somehow important or they didn't think I could judge that for myself.
Hair just seems to be a bad thing for women, unless it's straight, bleach blonde and perfect, and on your head - where it's supposed to be...
When my hair had grown back, I still felt this pressure going out, I was happy with it, but I felt other people might not be, and I was sure they'd let me know about it.
It's taken a while to get more comfortable with it, and I'm still not always confident about it, because my aim is not to offend or make anyone feel uncomfortable. At the same time, the people that do judge you so highly perhaps need to be offended and feel a little uncomfortable.
The only real negative response came from the people confronted by this picture on Ben's social media. And the hate wasn't limited to the underarm hair. Strangely, despite my insecurity, I just found those comments funny. If I had felt any need to respond, I didn't need to, because several other people I didn't know had already done it for me.”
– Louise Raines, February 2017 (photographed May 2014).