ARTS & CULTURE

32 Times Art History Proved Body Hair Is Beautiful

05/29/2015 06:57 am ET

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"I used to think I was the strangest person in the world," Mexican painter Frida Kahlo once said, "but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it's true I'm here, and I'm just as strange as you."

It's not easy to be a woman, especially in a culture where it's often hard to identify a female role model that you can identify with. Someone as strange, wild and beautiful as you are -- unedited. Luckily, where fashion editorials often fall short, art history comes in handy.

In honor of Frida Kahlo's ongoing exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden, we're paying homage to one of Frida's most defining and inspirational characteristics -- yes, the brows. While over the years they've become a meme for the iconic Surrealist artist, they also speak to Kahlo's fierce individuality, self-acceptance, fluidity, rebelliousness and, of course, agency over her body.

We've gathered 32 similarly inspirational art historical ladies who have dared to flaunt their body hair. From the bush to the pits to the brows to the 'stache, the following hair styles prove that few things are more beautiful than natural beauty and a little bit of moxie.

  • Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, In Bed, 1892
  • Heinrich Aldegrever, Eve, 1540.
  • Henri Matisse, Odalisque with Arms Raised, (of Henriette Darricarrière), 1923, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
  • Wangechi Mutu, The Storm Has Finally Made It Out Of Me Alhamdulillah, 2012. Mixed media collage on linoleum, 73" H x 114" W x 4" D. Image courtesy of the Artist and Susanne Vilemetter Los Angeles Projects; Photo Credit: Robert Wedemeyer.
  • Dorothy Iannone, The Next Great Moment In History Is Ours, 1970, Courtesy die Künstlerin, Air de Paris, Paris, und Peres Projects, Berlin, Foto: Joachim Littkemann
  • Egon Schiele, Sitting girl, 1917
  • Gustave Courbet, The Bather, 1868, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
  • Wangechi Mutu, The Original Nine Daughters (detail), 2012. Series of 9 etchings, Paper size 19 x10 inches each, image size 15 x 7 inches. Edition of 30 + 11 APs. Couortesy of the Artist and Pace Editions, Inc.
  • JOHN MACDOUGALL via Getty Images
    A photographer takes pictures of the painting 'Self-Portrait as Tehuana or Diego on My Mind' by Mexican artist Frida Kahlo during a press preview on April 29, 2010 at the Martin-Gropius-Bau museum in Berlin. From April 30 to August 9, 2010, the museum presents a retrospective on the important painter known for her self-portraits often depicting her own pain. AFP PHOTO JOHN MACDOUGALL (Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Shunga by Hokusai
  • Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Torso Before The Bath, 1875
  • Vincent van Gogh, Nude Woman Reclining January-February 1887, Paris Oil on canvas, 24 x 41 cm. Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A photographic self-portrait of Japanese artist Yasumasa Morimura dressed as Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, hangs in the Institute of Contemporary Art, Thursday, March 25, 2004, in Boston. The piece, titled "An Inner Dialogue with Frida Kahlo (Hand-shaped Earring), 2001" is part of the exhibit "Made in Mexico," which is scheduled to run through May 9, 2004. (AP Photo/Angela Rowlings)
  • Philippe Halsman and Salvador Dali, "In Voluptas Mors," 1951. Photo credit Philippe Halsman/Magnum Photos
  • Egon Schiele, Reclining Semi Nude with Red Hat, 1910
  • Dorothy Iannone, aus: Dialogues (unnumbered), 1968, Sammlung Andersch, Neuss, © Dorothy Iannone, Foto: Markus Hawlik, Berlin
  • Amedeo Modigliani, Red Nude, 1917
  • Wangechi Mutu, The Original Nine Daughters (detail), 2012. Series of 9 etchings, Paper size 19 x10 inches each, image size 15 x 7 inches. Edition of 30 + 11 APs. Couortesy of the Artist and Pace Editions, Inc.
  • Gustave Courbet, The Origin of the World (L'Origine du monde), 1866, Paris: Musée d'Orsay
  • Chuck Close, Laura I, 1984, color Polaroids mounted on aluminum, 97" x 215" (243.8 cm x 546.1 cm), overall installed, 97" x 43" (243.8 cm x 109.2 cm), five panels, each. Photos via Pace Gallery.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, a painting by Frida Kahlo (The Frame, 1938) is seen as part of one of two new exhibits featuring art exclusively by women at the Seattle Art Museum, in Seattle. Included in the exhibition is the only U.S. stop for an exhibit from the Pompidou Center in Paris, home of the modern art museum there, of painting, sculpture, drawing, photography and video. The exhibit runs through Jan. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
  • Daniel Maidman, Blue Leah #7, 2012, oil on canvas, 24"x36. Photo credit Daniel Maidman
  • The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife, Hokusai, 1814
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    This Feb. 8, 2013 photo shows Frida Kahlo's 1942 "Self Portrait with Cropped Hair" part of the exhibition featuring the works of Kahlo and Diego Rivera, "Frida & Diego: Passion Politics and Painting," at the High Museum in Atlanta. The exhibit features more than 140 works, making it the largest exhibition of the couple's art ever displayed together. Atlanta’s High will be the only U.S. venue for the exhibition, which opens Feb. 14 and runs through May 12. . (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • Amedeo Modigliani, Nude on a Blue Cushion, 1917
  • Mickalene Thomas, Origin of the Universe 1, 2012 Rhinestones, acrylic, oil and enamel on wood panel
  • Gustave Courbet, Nude Reclining by the Sea
  • Egon Schiele, Reclining nude, 1910
  • Van Gogh, Nude Woman on a Bed, 1887
  • Wengechi Mutu, All the way up, all the way out, 2012. Collage and mixed media on linoleum, 74 x 50 3/8 inches. Image courtesy of the Artist and Susanne Vilemetter Los Angeles Projects; Photo Credit: Robert Wedemeyer.

A version of this article was originally published last year.

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