Cassia Chloe for 'Natural Beauty' by Ben Hopper (2014)
“It came alongside the realisation that the desire to wear makeup, shave or alter myself was born out of the notion that beauty can be sold.
That beauty can, and must be bought; a concept not surprisingly enforced by the ’beauty' industry that have the most to profit. That we are not innately beautiful, that beauty is a product.
This is quite obviously delusional. As if people were not attracted to each other in all of human history before the first female razor blade was sold– only one hundred years ago. It was the obscure concept that I had to change myself to be beautiful. An idea enforced upon any female from childhood, that you simply would pluck, rip, cut at and mask your skin.
It was the makeup I cut first, it was easier. Because you see, ditching makeup would leave people questioning your beauty, where ditching a razor would leave people questioning your womanhood. Which is clearly ironic given that growth of hair is a sign of womanhood, fertility, and maturity.
The modern woman is made to feel as if her own body is unnatural; we're uncomfortable with our skin.
I remember a dance class at the age of around 10 and I became conscious of my leg hair for the first time. I was ashamed, embarrassed. I wanted to hide away; I hated my body for it.
Why should a child develop such an enveloping fear and resentment of the natural processes of their own body?
…Where going through a process that causes dry skin, rashes, wrinkles, over-stimulation of glands and general discomfort is what is required to be a woman …and that’s of course unless you buy yet another product to counteract these side effects.
I don't want to live in or harbour that society, where letting your body just be is a social and political act.
I know fully well that I was conditioned, and learning to love oneself took a certain amount of mental hacking and de-conditioning.
It was tough at first. I was an alien in my own body.
The mad thing is, this entire psychological burden, this complex so many women go through, was invented and perpetuated for one thing, money.
It was power over the female form, female sexuality, transforming this power in to child like vulnerability. Putting barriers between a woman and her beauty, her sexuality.
You must do this, buy that, and then you'll be beautiful– as if beauty could ever be that shallow.
Observing the harmful nature of advertisements, choosing the quality of information that will enter and shape my mind, rather than what a company, whose intentions are unknown to me, intends me to see, is a vital step in the process.
Spending time in bathhouses in traditional cultures or at open-minded festivals, one eventually gets used to the natural form of woman, a form we are so detached from in the West – all of that really helps too.
This openness is healing and vital, and indeed a feature of less neurotic societies.
Seeing nude women and children together, the beauty in that, and recognising hairlessness is a feature of prepubescent girls, not women.
I've finally reached the stage where I'm happy with my hair, and actually, I love my hair.
I find a little hair truly very beautiful and the altered form just appears somewhat absurd and uncomfortable.
Now I see hair as something soft and feminine, indeed really quite pretty, the opposite of how modern media portrays female body hair.
I've come to trust the natural processes of my body. It knows what's best for my health and me.
Look at art history or just look around you. You see the beauty of the human mind is so temporal– it doesn't last. But the beauty of nature is timeless and unchanging.
From this I take strength and I hope to inspire other men and women to do the same.”
– Cassia Chloe. Artist and performer (2014)