2. Body Hair

“Everyday, I wake up: oh, it’s back again, I have to do it again!”

Part 2 in the Hairy Stories trilogy, Body Hair, explores women’s lived relationship to body hair in a politically tense world. We meet different women in Palestine, who help each other with hair removal in their private homes. The film shows how body hair removal can be a social activity and gives the viewer access to a closed, female space, where women help each other to become beautiful in the eyes of society.

Making the film

Body Hair is filmed in Palestine during a three-week camp for Danish and Palestinian filmmakers, arranged by Aarhus Film Workshop and Filmlab Palestine. The making of this film put focus on issues of context and underlined how intimacy is constructed culturally in the concrete situation.

In Ramallah, you find a hair removal salon on every corner. They range from simple wax shops with drawn curtains and a few bleached posters in the windows, to high-end, highly secured facilities with the newest hair removal technologies. Originally, Yasmin and I wanted to go to the salons and film. Most of the salon workers were very eager to share hair removal stories and -techniques, but they (and their husbands) were worried that it would have serious consequences for themselves and their business if they participated in the film. The taboo was heavily gender based. In a men’s salon in Ramallah, I could film whatever I liked – faces, conversations, insults of hairy women, everything – if I just promised not to mix the images with images of women. Like if the camera’s gaze on a female body could potentially destroy the fragile and valuable intimacy of the woman, not only affecting her and her family’s honour but even also contaminating other people who appears in the same film.

We ended up making a film in private homes rather than salons, and got a very personal account about how women connect and help each other to become ready “behind the scenes”. Body Hair highlights the experiential dimensions of body hair removal, in a poetic association of body hair to the textures of plants and horses. The film can be seen in public screenings and talks.

Still image from Body Hair (Hollerup 2017). 

Body Hair, 2017. 15:51 min.

Direction, camera & editing by Louise Hollerup, production by Yasmin Zaher, Aarhus Filmworkshop and Filmlab Palestine.

In collaboration with Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke