Wonder Woman doesn’t even come out until June, but people are already complaining that the movie is not feminist enough, because the superhero is conforming to unrealistic, patriarchal beauty standards by not having visible armpit hair.
The trailer for the film was released last week, and columnists have been writing think pieces about how problematic it is that Gal Gadot’s armpit hair appears to have been edited out in one of the shots. For example: In a piece for Forbes (titled “Wonder Woman Doesn’t Have Armpit Hair Because Women’s Bodies Freak Men Out”), Susannah Breslin mused that “maybe one day in the future, young girls will be brought up on images of a different kind of Wonder Woman — one who shaves nowhere and hides nothing.” In a piece for Refinery 29, Shannon Carlin writes that she finds it “hard to believe that Wonder Woman, who has been on an island filled with strong women her entire life is worried about waxing and then bleaching her pits to make sure there isn’t a hair left on those babies.”
Now, certainly, there are a lot of things that are “hard to believe” about how Wonder Woman looks considering her line of work, and they go way beyond her armpits. For example: She leaves her long, flowing cascade of loose curls down while she’s fighting enemies and it stays looking perfect the whole time; I can’t even do ten minutes of half-assed yoga in my room without tying mine back and it still gets tangled. She goes into battle wearing a tiny little dress; I feel like I might want to cover more of my skin if I knew I were going to be swordfighting in a field full of explosions.
If you don’t like it, fine. Invent your own, new hero ‘who shaves nowhere.’
But here’s the thing: That’s who Wonder Woman is. There is no room for debate about what Wonder Woman should and should not look like, because DC Comics already decided what she looks like when it created her in 1941: She always has a fresh blowout, she fights her enemies club attire, and she does not have armpit hair.
If you don’t like it, fine. Invent your own, new hero “who shaves nowhere.” (Hell, make that her thing! A furry, intersectional eco-feminist, who wears only “I Stand With PP” T-shirts and vegan Birkenstocks, who uses her armpit hair to entangle people who commit microaggressions and/or as wings to fly around dropping government-funded IUDs from the sky!) Feel free to create and promote whatever model for superwoman-hood that you see fit, but what Wonder Woman looks like is something that has been established for decades. If you don’t like how she looks, that’s okay, but please understand that your issue is not with this specific film; it’s with the character in general. After all, a woman who has not once in more than 70 years gone out without perfectly curled hair is definitely not a woman who would ever wear something sleeveless without shaving her pits.