Margarita Omar, 22, is an artist and a feminist. Growing up in Moscow, she moved to Luxembourg with her family when she was a teenager. Margarita still lives in Luxembourg where she is studying ‘Music Informations’ at the Conservatory. So far, Margarita has showcased two exhibitions of her work. She is preparing three more exhibitions this year, which will appear at the Urban Art Festival – Kulturfabrik and Young Artists – PIJ (Point Info Jeunes), in Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg, as well as Young Artists – Rehazenter, in Luxembourg, Luxembourg.
I got to know Margarita through her protest against the objectification of women to be beautiful and perfect. Margarita’s protest against the pressure on the feminine is very simple – refuse to accept it. Margarita has not removed her bodily hair in the last three months. She refuses to hide it or acknowledge it as shameful and is not afraid to show off hairiness. At the gym, Margarita still goes for the shorts & tank top combo, despite what people may think about her legs and armpits. She likes the challenge. She wants to set an example for other women and directly challenge men through her own body.
Margarita let me take her pictures during this interview. All she asked in return is that the photos avoid a sense of sexuality and eroticism, instead focusing on the feminine in its nature state and appearance. At the end of the photoshoot, the thought of a hairy woman being a socially acceptable thing, one that even holds a certain aesthetic, was an almost natural response. It’s all about getting used to something new, as Margarite reassured me. Just like we have gotten so used to the (at times overbearing) reality of men’s bodily hair. So we propose a curious experiment – we want to know how many of you will feel this sense of comfort and will be willing to consider this form of protest as a way of life. Let’s see if your views change by the end of this interview.
Why aren’t you shaving your legs?
First of all, I want to piss off my boyfriend (laughing), second, it’s wintertime and I refuse to spend my money on hair-removal procedures. I can think of far better things I could spend that money on. Another reason is that I thought that I can make an art form out of it and inspire others to do the same. Or just to make them think – there are also other forms of oppression, which are not solely reduced to body hair.
What does your boyfriend think about this?
I don’t care. He told me that he loves me and that he supports me, but I didn’t even ask his permission.
What does it mean to be a feminist?
Feminism is a particular kind of politics. Without attempting to generalise or simplify, feminism means the acknowledgement of three core facts: 1) Women are social group, 2) There is a patriarchy and gendered hierarchy and 3) This is not a natural state of being; we can trace how this masculinity has been enforced upon us historically.
So, not shaving is your protest against the underlying pressures on women to be perfect and beautiful?
Well, it is too small to call it a protest. I haven’t brought plenty of women with me and we haven’t made a group photo with our hairy legs, we haven’t started a movement. It is not very a political action. In a way, I believe that every woman that does not obey social norms, sometimes, is making her own protest. So, if you make it your personal protest, if you make your mind up to stand up to these social stigmas, it is a huge step already… The purpose is not to blame women for following restrictive standards set on them. The purpose is to be otherwise and come together as a social group.
What are the main things you protest against with this action?
The beauty standard – “I am socially acceptable only when my body is altered and when I make it more aesthetic artificially.” It’s like saying women are naturally inferior because they also have hair on their bodies, so they should be altering themselves in order to be desirable in society, fuckable and acceptable. You can see how that’s totally wrong.
Would you remove your body hair when summer comes?
I think so. It is my personal adaptive decision. It won’t change anything if I am alone with full body hair the whole year. I won’t scrutinize my body either – I’ve figured out my own socially acceptable body hair length. Anyway, no matter what I do to my body the photos and the interview will stay. Which is going to help to convey the message I want.
Interview by Bistra Velichkova