Petra Collins and the Pubic Hair Scandal

Look away now if pubes offend. Wait, what do you mean we all have them? Oh that’s right; they violate feminine beauty ideals and therefore must be banished for all eternity, as demonstrated by the Petra Collins debacle. Hmm.


So the girl whose crotch tweet you’re looking at right now is one Petra Collins and she is pretty awesome. You may vaguely associate her name with a certain American Apparel t-shirt she recently designed of a masturbating, menstruating woman which got a lot of people’s metaphorical knickers in a twist. Whilst I’m not a massive fan of her t-shirt (in fact I prefer the wet t-shirt design), I can get on board with her attitude to female beauty. In fact, I’d go as far as to say she’s a woman on her way to vagina infamy.

petra collins

Instagram Strikes Again

But besides her masturbation masterpiece, she was also recently rather unceremoniously booted off Instagram for allegedly violating their terms of use. (Spoiler alert, she didn’t). In reality, what she did post was a defiantly brilliant photo of her unshaved bikini line, complete with a rather excellent sparkly backdrop. (Such an arty photo of a bikini line has never been seen before. The bar is set.) When I first saw this I couldn’t understand how she had actually violated the terms and apparently neither could she. Was this perhaps a breach of the nudity policy? Erm, no actually.

petra collins

She’s arguably wearing more than the average hot-dog legged bikini-wearing Instagrammer, whose equally scantily clad pics both seem to comprise an entire Instagram subgenre yet remain resolutely where they are for all the world to see. Far from implying they should also be removed, I’m more concerned with working out what the heck the difference is. I’ll give you a clue; it rhymes with slubic schair. (The alleged official line regarding said photo is that it’s too ‘personal’ for Instagram. I’m sorry, what? My Facebook page alone is clogged up with all sorts of inappropriate photos and conversations at any one time, and let’s not even start on my Twitter feed… I didn’t know you even could be too personal on the internet.)

petra collins

© Cha già José/ Flickr

Sparkly Vag Pic

Anyway, back to the photo itself, which is still widely available on her blog and Twitter feed. I love it. Who could hate someone who posts a vag pic not only with the now ubiquitous Instagram ‘filter’ but with goddamned sparkles in the background? Not me – that shit’s awesome. Say what you want about the girl, but I for one don’t think she can be accused of shying away from the underrepresented and all too real realities of womanhood. We all have periods and pubes, guys, stop getting so pissy about someone merely pointing that out.

petra collins

© Trojan story/WikiCommons

Against Societal Norms

Rather than seeing this as a photo which breaches Instagram’s ‘personal’ policies (I call bullshit on that excuse), I see a photo which goes against society’s expectations of female beauty and ‘normality’, despite Petra more than likely being in the norm. I see a response that says, ‘come on now love, at least put them away and we can carry on pretending they don’t exist!’ She differs from societal expectations and that is considered obscene. Lucky for her she’s not fat as well. Shouldn’t we praise her for giving us a representation of what I consider female normality, rather than demonising her for her ‘nonconformity’ and challenging of today’s restrictive attitudes towards female beauty? I say yes.

© lookcatalog/Flickr

But I equally say, I honestly could not care less what you do with your own vagina. Dye your pubes pink, shave ‘em, wax ‘em or rock a 70s vibe a la Gwyneth Paltrow. I do not care. Do what you want but don’t impose your own personal preference on the next person or judge them for their choices. That’s where oppression begins. But why does Instagram in particular care so about Petra’s non-rule violating pubes? I couldn’t tell you to be honest, but my best guess is that she’s a big fuck you to the ideals they’re founded on.

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