Watch Petra Collins talk censoring women's body hair

The feminist hero and photographer gets frank about 'the market of femininity'

Petra Collins is known for railing against the boys club of an art world, and she's completely unapologetic when it comes to her body and the choices she makes. She tells it like it is for every young woman: periods, hair and your body are things we should celebrate, rather than shame. 

Now, the photographer has stepped in front of the camera for StyleLikeU's What's Underneath series. In the film, Collins talks frankly about identity, self-love and style while gradually taking off her clothes until she's in her underwear, exposing herself emotionally and physically.

In it, she criticizes the media for forcing impossible beauty standards on women – something we're totally with her on. Collins also revealed her own battle with her body image and a past eating disorder. 

"I’ve always been skinny and blonde and whatever," she explains. "So I was like, ‘oh, I look like what I’m supposed to.’ And then when I got into high school I grew hips. That little deviation was like… ‘I don’t fit into this any more, I don’t know what to do.’ I was starting to grow hair and go through puberty but I was being told to revert back to what I was like as a child. I lost total control of the view of my body and I had a really bad eating disorder. I just stopped eating.”

She admitted openly that preaching self-love is easier than actually living by it, and she spoke about the sexualizing of youth and its implications. It was in high school that she stopped shaving her under arms, despite cruel comments, tired of the prepubescent connotations a hairless body can imply. "Not shaving was the first step towards accepting my body as it was."

Truth hurts: women's body hair is still stereotypically thought of as 'gross' and 'unhygienic', and, as Collins points out, it's even left out of women's razor adverts: "It's insane - they're shaving nothing! I guess it’s the same thing with menstrual blood, in the ads it will be a blue dot and won’t really talk about it.” Damn you, blue dot. 

The fearless feminist hero and photographer perfectly sums up what's often wrong with the media's portrayal of women. “'You can’t be what you can’t see. When you’re not being represented it’s like you’re not a real person.”

She also recently spoke to the New York Times, where she mentioned Barbie Nox and Diana Veras, two American models making waves with their body acceptance across Instagram. 

Praising the teenage models with serious girl power, she said: "They’re such a great example of today’s version of really cool role models for teenage girls. They’re so positive about their bodies and not ashamed about that. And they’re just out there on the Internet, with so many fans, and they have such amazing personalities...It’s just so humanizing to see someone be real."

Petra Collins rules.

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