Nikki Silver was fed up with looking at the improbably hairless vulvas she saw in porn. So, in 2012, she decided to create her own porn site featuring other beautiful hairy women and genderqueer people.
Now, she's released a photo book called Unshaven. It's resplendent with images of women in their natural furry glory, from full bushes to unbridled armpit fluff. Journalist Tina Horn contributes an essay in which she explains how wasteful hair removal can be — from crowding landfills with plastic razors to squandering time spent on more fun (and important) things. I Skyped with Silver recently to ask her about, well, hairy women.
You have your photos on your website, Naughty Naturals. What made you decide to publish a physical book?
I'm hoping that people will put it on their coffee table. My hope is that people will feel more comfortable showing it to their friends, maybe their family.
It's important partially because I like beautiful women. But beautiful women can mean a lot of different things. I hope to influence people. Not to stop shaving if they don't want to but just to consider that they don't have to shave, that there are many options available to them in terms of what they look like. Porn gives a narrow view of what bodies are supposed to look like and what hair is supposed to look like.
Why do you think we still think it's so weird for women to have body hair?
I think that [hair removal has] just become so much a part of the normative idea of what women do to be beautiful. It's so ingrained in people now. For young people, they don't even think otherwise. It's part of our obsession with youth and youthful-looking bodies. The beauty industry is based on people being insecure about different parts of their bodies. I don't think it's all bad or anything — I don't think taking care of how you look is negative. But when you're striving for an unreachable ideal, I don't think that's positive.
Totally. Some women writers of color are saying it may be easy for white women to grow their body hair as a political statement, but for them, it can be a tougher choice. I know you feature diverse models in the book, but I'm wondering whether you have any response to that?
I think that, just in a general sense of looking more normative, it's easier for white people period, just because of general racism. So I can empathize with women of color saying that. Just walking down the street, there's harassment that women of color face, and to add hair onto that I can totally empathize that that wouldn't be the easiest of choices [in the same way that it might be] for a white woman.
What do you think of this whole trend of women growing out their armpit hair and dyeing it?
I think that any representation of body hair on women in the media is positive. So whether people have it, or are growing it, or whether it's like Miley Cyrus or whatever, I'm happy about it.
Do you have tips on how to start growing your body hair after years of shaving?
Lots of exfoliating and lots of moisturizing. Like, more than you think is reasonable.
*This interview has been condensed and edited.