In January, Eldina Jaganjac made headlines by not shaving. But, the story goes deeper. Here we speak to her about beauty standards and why she feels her 'non-action' is so important.
Eldina Jaganjac does not understand why her appearance contains news and why the media reported about her looks. “I look like a human look”, she says.
Eldina, 32, from Copenhagn, Denmark, woke up one day and didn’t want to shave her upper lip hair and pluck her eyebrows. People might call it a decision but she has an interesting point of view on this topic. “It’s funny how a non-action is seen as a decision – because frankly, what I did was nothing’.
But why are we writing about Eldina Jaganjac? Who is she? Why did her looks become news?
Her name and face became news at the beginning of this year and her pictures were part of different international media. The reason? She decided not to remove the hairs from the moustache and not to pluck the eyebrow. Little did she know that from this ‘non-action’, as she calls it, the media would put her in the spotlight.
To find out more about her, Youth Time Magazine interviewed Edina. How do people react when they see her on the streets? Has she received hateful comments on social media?
Making The Decision
When did you decide not to pluck your eyebrows and not to take off your upper lip hair? What triggered you to make this decision?
To be honest it’s not that black and white, sometimes I do remove hairs sometimes I don’t, it’s whatever I feel like. The past stint of non removal had been going on for 1.5 years.
I think that it’s an interesting question, and a question a man would never be asked. I did feel pressured to adhere to a very specific norm or standard. I was thinking, why is it so important for society that women remove a few hairs?
When men can do whatever they want, and no one cares. I think that the mandatory hair removal for women is so random. Why? Why do we have to do this? And who tells us to do this?
In a way I feel like hair removal for women might as well be a written law, as much importance as there is put on the topic. But we don’t need a written law, because we’re forced to adhere to the unwritten law, and it’s working quite well.
And it’s funny how a non-action is seen as a decision – because frankly, what I did was do nothing. I just look like women look. And how humans look. And I feel like I don’t want to be forced to do a random action that a man would never be forced to.
What were the reactions of your family and friends?
Most didn’t have any reaction, some said that I was inspiring and brave.
What do people say when they see you on the street?
Usually they don’t say anything, but there have been a few instances where men stare at my unshaven legs. It’s funny because they also have unshaven legs. One man pulled some of my arm hair and asked “What is this?”. And it’s funny because men’s arms are often pretty hairy.
Have you received hateful comments on social media? If yes, were there more from men or women?
Most were definitely from men, being angry saying that I should remove hair. I have also received threats.
I’d say 99% of the stupid comments I get on social media are from men. They tell me “I’d prefer that you remove it” or “I prefer you don’t remove it.” And it’s funny because I never asked them, because I don’t know them.
These are men from the other side of the world. And it’s really absurd that they think they have a right to tell a woman they have never met, what she should do and how she should look. I don’t text a stranger in Japan “hey, I don’t like your shirt. You should buy a blue one.” And then get angry if they don’t.
And I think this tells a lot about men and their entitlement and how they think they are important and have the right to control women. That we exist only for their pleasure.
I get a lot of really great messages from women who tell me that they no longer feel alone, but also from men who don’t necessarily struggle with the same issues, but either have some body image issues, or don’t like the double standards.
Quite a few parents have also messaged me and told me that it’s good that I give a more realistic and healthy picture of how grown women look, because their children have either seen me on social media or they have shown my videos to their children.
You just woke up one day and your face went viral. Why do you think that happened?
I did think that some people might feel better about themselves, and that some might get angry. But not in the way it’s been. A lot of publications have misquoted me, taken my pictures and made up stories.
UniLad and New York Post for instance invented the idea that I said some things I never said, they have never interviewed me and didn’t respond to my mails and calls. In reality, I have talked to very few publications, and the rest took my picture and made up quotes.
You said: “Growing up, I noticed that I was considered a brute when my body hair first started to grow as a teenager”. How do you remember your teenage years?
It definitely was, and all the girls of course had hair but we were supposed to hide it and act like it didn’t exist. So young women spend so much time worrying about something that’s so natural and normal, and it’s a shame.
We would never go out with unshaved legs. And it makes me angry, because women and girls are so much more than this one procedure.
Young women are judged on their looks, while men get to focus on their talents and interests.
It’s as if the world is helping build men up, while women are constantly checking ourselves if we did everything correct – just so we can step out onto the street. Do I have the right clothes? Did I remove my leg hair? Eye brows? Do I weigh too much? Is my shirt see-trough?
While men can just put on a pair of flip flops and go outside without a shirt, and it’s okay. It’s not even noticed.
Is this a form of protest towards all the beauty standards for women?
It most definitely is.
The media portrays you as a woman who is challenging beauty standards. Do you feel like you are challenging beauty standards?
I think I do, and I think it’s important that we acknowledge how humans look. Because everyone knows that women have these hairs, and yet it’s a secret.
Objectification And The Media
Do you feel objectified that the media are reporting for you because you decided to look in the way you want to?
Yes – well just the sheer focus on my looks is objectification. That’s the only thing the media can write about with women. And I’ve seen it with so many other women as well.
What made me the most angry was how the media wrote how Billie Eilish was “hiding her body” – when she was only a child, I think she was 15. And I get a lot of “why aren’t you showing your legs”, “you can’t talk about beauty standards when you’re pretty” and “You can’t wear make up, if you don’t shave”.
I don’t answer these people because it’s just so stupid that i don’t know where to begin.
And there’s a lot of judgement on me that I’m not more ‘naked’. I feel like the media, and unfortunately also social media and body positive movement sometimes has this focus on nakedness and a specific body part.
While I do understand that we need to focus on a topic in order to be able to talk about it, I also think that we should cut women into ‘parts’. We are wholes. And often I’m judged for not being naked enough in my pictures, because unfortunately suggestive nudity on Instagram is a obligatory language in itself, and if you don’t speak it, you’re kept out of the equation. And the audience gets confused, because they are so used to nudity.
While I don’t think that women’s bodies are more sexual in nature, I do still see that we are much more sexualised, and I don’t want to cater to a pornographic view of women – or me – that men can profit from.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with nudity, but obligatory nudity and sexualisation and objectification of women is not the route to go if women want to be part of politics.
And the body is political, and mine, as all other women as well, has been made political, so when I want to address the issues, it needs to be on my terms.
Photos: Eldina Jaganjac
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