A Swedish woman’s hairy armpit, which flashed up for mere seconds on a live television broadcast, has gone viral across the country, sparking debate about body image and feminism.
Viewers watching the Melodifestivalen finals on SVT caught a glimpse of the unshaven underarm when cameras showed audience members cheering just after singer Loreen was announced as the artist who will represent Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest.
The live broadcast on Saturday 10th March was watched by an estimated 4.1 million viewers, but the image of the armpit was spread even further when a screenshot was pasted on Facebook, prompting a barrage of comments and shares.
After daily newspaper Aftonbladet ran the story, Sweden’s most famous unshaved armpit, the unembarrassed owner, Lina Ehrin, 32, came forward to claim credit. Speaking about all the unwanted attention she has received, Ehrin, from Ludvika, central Sweden, said she can’t see what all the fuss is about.
“This is absurd, very absurd,” she told The Local. “I mean, there are wars going on in the world, yet crazy people are sitting here commenting on this.”
Most of the comments made online about the image have been negative, but Ehrin says the bullying will not persuade her to shave.
“Everything is so fast on the internet, people don’t think they can hurt people, but they can. I’m fine, but I’m also glad I’m older. If I were 15 I would be really hurt right now,” she said. “I can’t believe a little bit of hair on a woman is such a big thing, especially after it was International Women’s Day last week,” she added.
Hanna Fridén, a prominent Swedish blogger and feminist, also took issue with the public’s reaction.
“Most people aim to bully. With words like she is ‘disgusting’, ‘retarded’, ‘should be ashamed’,” she wrote. “Some aimed to defend her, but the majority bullied. It’s disgusting when people write these things, just because she’s going against the standard appearance.”
“She has chosen not to shave under her arms and people are incredibly provoked by it,” Fridén continued. “The fact that the image includes her face makes it even worse. She has not chosen this. It’s extremely problematic and bullying,” she said.