An artist’s rendering of Wonder Woman with body hair has sparked a debate about what it means to be feminine.
Raikchak Ha Reang is a graphic designer in Vellore, India, whose fascination with superheroes inspires his work. His latest pieces, illustrations of Wonder Woman with leg, arm, and armpit hair, have become the subject of a fiery debate on Instagram.
In one image depicting Wonder Woman’s legs, Reang wrote, “We get super busy in life sometimes and do not have time to maintain ourselves. It’s natural to have body hair and Wonder Woman approves too.”
In the second, the superhero stands in a power pose with her arms crossed to show off her silver armbands. The caption reads, “Body hair. Don’t care.” And the third shows Wonder Woman’s armpit with bat-shaped hair.
Instagram commenters had fierce opinions on Reang’s work:
“Congratulations you definitely destroy wonder woman beautifully.”
“I think she’s trying to screw societal expectations of being well groomed 24/7 when sometimes everyone needs a break from all of that.”
“That’s gross as hell.”
“This is great man, I hate when people say other people’s body hair is disgusting, it’s their body and their rules.”
Reang’s inspiration was derived from No-Shave November, a yearly event aimed to raise awareness for the many cancer patients who lose their hair. In observance, people allow their hair to grow with abandon, then donate what they would have spent on hair care, to cancer organizations.
“I thought it would be unique to show a woman doing this with her body hair,” Reang tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I chose Wonder Woman because she represents strong and fearless women — but even superheroes don’t always have time to take care of their physical appearance.”
While he admits he was initially bothered by the negative reaction, “I realized either people will understand and love it or they will take it completely out of context and feel uncomfortable.”
Other artists have tackled beauty ideals through cultural icons. In a story for BuzzFeed, illustrator Loryn Brantz reimagined female Disney characters without makeup and in another series gave male characters “dad bods” with beer guts and chest hair.
“I just want people to realize that body hair is natural and it’s OK to have it,” says Reang. “Whether you want to keep it or shave it, it’s completely that individual’s choice.”