‘I didn’t know armpit hair was embarrassing’

Women in Denmark may have got the right to vote 100 years ago but they still let others decide on their bodies, magazine editor Camilla Kjems tells The Local as she launches a new warts-and-all campaign.

'I didn’t know armpit hair was embarrassing'

Kjems says she’s tired of endless discussions about what a “real woman” should look like and is calling on women to eschew social norms as part of her magazine’s ‘100% mig’ (100% me) campaign.

“The campaign is a reaction to the way women put each other in boxes and don’t allow differences,” the Femina editor tells The Local. 

“It’s about inclusion and not competing all the time or judging people for their choices. We say there is no right way to be a woman.”

To kick-start the debate, Camilla Kjems and some of the magazine’s other staffers have elected to pose in photos that show them with hairy armpits, silicone implants, soft post-natal bellies, greying hair and the kind of curves often airbrushed out of fashion shoots.

“A lot of women argue now that natural beauty is best and you shouldn’t wear make-up, and that’s fine. But we’re saying that make-up is also fine. It’s much more interesting if we’re not all the same," she explains.

She takes as an example the journalist Tine Bendixen, who is also involved in the campaign. 

“She’s over 50 and has long hair with grey streaks. People say you can’t do that, it’s not acceptable for older women to have their hair like that, but we disagree.”

Camilla Kjems' own background meant it took her longer than most to feel the weight of society’s expectations. 

“My story is that I’m quite a natural girl who grew up on the island of Bornholm in a nudist society. I didn’t really realize until I was 20 that I had hairy armpits and suddenly I was supposed to be embarrassed about it.”

For the campaign she decided to pose topless to show that she is not embarrassed about getting implants. 

“I have chosen to have breast implants after breast-feeding my three children. My breasts almost disappeared and it was just my choice to do something about it. I don’t want to lie about it.”

Kjems says she’s happy she’s got her figure back and wishes more women could be comfortable with their choices.

“A lot of women are embarrassed in this situation and of course it’s also fine if you want to keep it private but my argument is that you should be able to talk about it if you want. I don’t like taboos.”

Julia Lahme

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