Supermodel Ashley Graham sparks debate by showing off armpit hair in nude selfie
Fernando Leon / Getty Images

Supermodel Ashley Graham shared a collage of photos of her enjoying her birthday on Instagram.

She wisely avoided bars, restaurants and other crowded places, and instead enjoyed a walk, some cake and a bubble bath.

While out walking, she fed birds by hand – prompting one fan to comment "what in the Disney princess is going on here??".

But it was Graham's last photo that really caught people's attention. Graham is known for posting pictures of her natural beauty and this was no different.

Her unshaved armpits won her fans's praise. One wrote:

Love how you're rocking that under arm hair girl! We're all human, people need to stop expecting us to live up to a standard.

Another added:

Honest to God ... thank you for making a mom in any shape feel so beautiful. How you have embraced your body amazes me and gives me strength.


It's the pits for me

Obviously, not shaving completely natural body hair that the majority of people have shouldn't be a bold statement.

In an ideal world, showing off armpit hair, cellulite and stretch marks – all of which Graham has posted to her Instagram – wouldn't be controversial, but would just be accepted as ordinary parts of the human body.

But the minority of negative comments shaming Graham for not shaving demonstrate why publicly defying beauty standards is still important and empowering. One person commented "what is that underarm doing", while another called it "gross" and unhygienic.

The myth that armpit hair is unhygienic when it grows on women (but not, for some reason, men) is deep-rooted and totally false.

And Graham is challenging us to reassess our beauty standards. She's taken a stand against the terms "plus-sized" and "real women" and encouraged us to rethink the connotations of the word "big" when it's applied to people's bodies.

It's not surprising, then, that she even took the time to empower and educate her fans further on her birthday.

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