Emily Ratajkowski celebrates her natural armpit hair – 'Body hair is a choice'

Words: Erin Donnelly

In an essay for the September issue of Harper’s BazaarEmily Ratajkowski is opening up about her feminist beliefs and how she feels judged for her sexy appearance.

“Even women from the [US political] left, who fully supported the purpose of my protest, made comments about my missing bra underneath my white tank and jeans,” the model and actress writes of reaction to her protests against Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

READ MORE: Nike ad featuring woman with hairy armpits branded 'disgusting'

But it’s the photo that accompanies the essay — and more specifically, the tuft of dark underarm hair she flashes in it — that seems to be causing the biggest stir.

Emily Ratajkowski (pictured in June) addressed her body hair in an essay about feminism for Harper's Bazaar. (Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

The ‘Gone Girl’ and ‘I Feel Pretty’ star defended letting her hair grow naturally in her essay.

“If I decide to shave my armpits or grow them out, that’s up to me,” the 28-year-old says in her essay. “For me, body hair is another opportunity for women to exercise their ability to choose — a choice based on how they want to feel and their associations with having or not having body hair.”

Click below to see more celebrities who have embraced their armpit hair...

“On any given day, I tend to like to shave, but sometimes letting my body hair grow out is what makes me feel sexy. And there is no right answer, no choice that makes me more or less of a feminist, or even a ‘bad feminist,’ to borrow from Roxane Gay ... Ultimately, the identity and sexuality of an individual is up to them and no one else.”

Ratajkowski showed off her underarm in a shoot with Michael Avedon. (Photo: Harper's Bazaar/Michael Avedon)

Some commenters aren’t so open-minded.

“So to be ‘hyper-feminine’ means to let a bush grow under you arms,” one Harper’s Bazaar commenter complained on Instagram. “Sorry but it’s just disgusting to me.”

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“Now that you got the attention you wanted, please shave, bye,” read another comment.

Ratajkowski was clean-shaven in late June. (Photo: Arnold Jerocki/Getty Images)

“There’s a big difference between women’s rights and a clean body,” someone wrote on Ratjakowski’s own page. “Disgusting ... unfollow.”

The backlash had fans rushing to Ratajkowski’s defense.

“I love how worked up y’all are getting over some hair,” one shot back. “Prudes.”

“To shave or not to shave is a preference and has absolutely nothing to do with hygiene,” wrote another.

READ MORE: Lily Allen talks nipple hair removal

“These comments are disgraceful,” added a supporter. “This is exactly why she did this. She doesn’t need to look good for anyone or any man to need validation or to feel good. She is not just for your gaze. No woman, however she identifies, needs to keep up appearances to fit a mold [for] someone else finds acceptable.”

Chrissy Ford, special projects director at the magazine, also shut down critics, writing, “THERES NOTHING WRONG WITH BODY HAIR. Also, let’s get one thing straight for the people who don’t understand the meaning of hygiene ... having armpit hair has nothing to do with one’s hygiene.”