Natalie Delph (left) and Sarah O’Connor (right)

#NoShaveNoShade. You’ve probably seen this hashtag trending on social media sites like Tumblr and Twitter. What you may not know is that the hashtag is an icon for an ongoing movement across the nation in an attempt to tear down the negative stigmas connected to women’s body hair.

It all started when a high school student Destiny M. posted a picture of her hairy underarm on her Tumblr page with the caption #NoShaveNoShade. She had become fed up with the negative connotations associated with female body hair and furthermore the outrageous beauty standards women are put under in society. And it seems Destiny M. wasn’t alone in her beliefs. Since her post, a movement has sparked all over social media. Now feminists have begun flooding Twitter feeds and Tumblr dashboards alike, where they proudly show off their bushy armpits and stubbled legs followed by #NoSaveNoShade.

Sarah O’Connor and Natalie Delph, two juniors at Community High School, decided to take part in the movement, but took it a step further when they chose to dye their armpit hair teal. “[My mom] thought I was joking when I said I was going to dye my armpit hair. Then I was like ‘really’ and she was like ‘oh,’” said Delph.

“I’m not a filthy animal,” said O’Connor. “Just because I have armpit hair. It doesn’t change who I am. I’m the same person who I was. Just a little bit more going on underneath the armpits.”

 It is no surprise that the movement has received an uproar of disapproval as some people are not accustomed to seeing this kind of change. O’Connor has experienced her slice of opposition when a complete stranger contacted her on Twitter. “A 55 year old man tweeted me on Twitter and was like ‘you’re disgusting’ and I was like ‘you have no right to tell me how to care for my body.’” Reactions like this are not uncommon, the reshaping of old ideas have rubbed many people the wrong way.

 But the abhorrence only seemed to increase the purposefulness for O’Connor and Delph. “We don’t need your expectations. I can be a strong independent women and not shave my body hair and be damn cute,” said Delph. O’Connor and Delph have also received support, “[I have received] positive reactions from my peers because they think it’s sweet that I’m doing this. That we’re doing this,” said O’Connor.

 “The No Shave, No Shade movement is challenging the social construct by the patriarchy and the beauty standards women – the crazy beauty standards that women are held to,” O’Connor said.  “Not shaving our armpits challenges [the standards] and makes it like more normal. It just demolishes the expectations of women.”

 Body hair on women has long had a negative stigma attached to it, making women feel obligated to shave in order to pass social acceptance. No Shave, No Shade is challenging this stigma and helping women feel secure with the body hair they naturally have.

Aubrey Keomany-Harju

“For some reason it’s unfair for a woman to be less physically attracted to a hairy man, but if a woman neglects to shave her legs for a week she’s instantly begun to ’let herself go,’” said Aubrey Keomany-Harju, a junior at Huron High School who is also participating in #NoShaveNoShade. “Body hair is something we’re all born with, that becomes more pronounced as we grow older. Men and women alike both have it, but for what reason is it that women have this ‘obligation’ to remove hers?”

 The question Keomany-Harju raised is one that demand an answer more satisfying than “because hair on women is unattractive.” No woman should feel “obligated”–as Keomany-Harju put it– to shave for the satisfaction of anyone but herself. No Shave, No Shade is helping women to be comfortable in their own skin, and for Keomany-Harju, this was one of the main reasons she decided to participate, I realized I was so much more comfortable with myself while having body hair,” she said. “Being confident in my own skin, no alterations, is really important to me in relation to maintaining a sense of self empowerment.”

 What first started out as a single Tumblr post has grown to a national movement, accumulating more participants each day. Women all across America are challenging stigma and social beauty standards by posting hairy pictures with content and acceptance. #NoShaveNoShade is more than a trend, it’s a sign of progression towards equal rights.