Adidas model receives abuse after being pictured with hairy legs

At the end of last month, Adidas Originals launched their AW17 Bold Women’s campaign, a collection that can be distinguished by the chunky, curved platform sole: the material embodiment of a firm, powerful step… Some might say the metaphor is too obvious.

To promote the campaign, through a number of Youtube short clips we have the endorsement of female icons who have been carefully selected for their quirky and fascinating voices in the public ear. Amongst these is Arvida Byström, the doll-faced Swedish model and photographer. She has made a name for herself on Instagram for her charmingly blasé attitude towards displaying the female body in all its natural glory. And this attitude has been perfectly encapsulated by Adidas in their shoot. Byström is styled wearing an uber feminine, frilled bodice, accompanied by pastel and dusty rose pinks, all to complement her angelic face. What’s the catch? Her leg hair has remained unshaven and has been allowed to grow wild and free. I know, cover your eyes, lock up your razors and burn your Superstars, we can’t stand for this!

The shoot is a societal paradox. She can’t appear beautiful and feminine because her legs are unshaven, except… oh wait, she does.

Unsurprisingly, Byström received a whirlwind of social media abuse for her involvement in the campaign, as plenty of men- but even women too – hastened to inform her that she should be ashamed of her brazen display of one and a half inches of hair (on each calf too, the nerve!)

The negative backlash was so predictable it’s almost boring. However, Byström handled it with the grace and no-cares-given attitude that is expected from someone completely secure in herself and her own femininity; neither caring for nor requiring the validation of others to reach this security. Byström merely reminded her verbal attackers that while she is a strong and secure enough woman to brush off mindless comments, others who receive the same abuse are not so fortunate. Thankfully, her words triggered an influx of social media love for the campaign, with females banding together to express their admiration at her self-confidence and self-love. Some well-known female figures even took to Twitter to voice their support: Comedian Cally Beaton described Byström’s legs as being ‘as fab as ethos’ and tacked on the hashtag ‘HairisOK’.

The campaign has come full-circle: the campaign intending to support female body-confidence was victim to abusive backlash, which, in turn, sparked fiery support from outraged women who too want to appear in public with a bit of leg hair and not be burnt at the stake for it. The only thing that I can fault about the campaign is not really to do with the campaign itself at all, but a matter of social consciousness: this campaign is not ‘controversial’, and should stop being labelled as such, it is merely just realistic.

Nonetheless, whether it was through negative or positive responses, the campaign has received widespread international attention. So, to all those who have been vocal in sharing disgust towards what the campaign stands for: congratulations and thank you! You’ve been invaluable in giving a cleverly executed campaign the publicity it deserves.

Elicka Ghahramani

Image: Adidas Originals