Swedish model gets rape threats after ad shows her unshaven legs

Arvida Byström bombarded with online abuse after posing for Adidas video

Arvida Byström: “Literally I’ve been getting rape threats in my DM inbox.” Photograph: Adidas

Arvida Byström: “Literally I’ve been getting rape threats in my DM inbox.” Photograph: Adidas

 

A Swedish model says she has received rape threats for posing in an advertisement with unshaven legs. Arvida Byström, who is also a photographer and digital artist, appears in a video and photograph promoting Adidas Originals’ Superstar range. Byström, who has described the norm for women to shave as “fucked”, has hairy legs in the images and says she has faced a vicious backlash as a result.

She wrote on Instagram: “Me being such an abled, white, cis body with its only nonconforming feature being a lil leg hair. Literally I’ve been getting rape threats in my DM inbox. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to not possess all these privileges and try to exist in the world. Sending love and try to remember that not everybody has the same experiences being a person.”

Many people posted abusive comments under the video on YouTube. One said: “Is this what some woman have become? No thanks.” Another wrote: “Stop brushing your teeth and wiping your ass too fucking feminazi retarded.”

But she has also received significant support, with many taking aim at those posting abuse. Among the positive comments were: “It is something absurd to say in 2017 but she is so brave to show natural legs, you go girl!” Another commenter wrote: “Thank you adidas for showing a woman how she really is and what femininity really implies.”

Challenging perceptions

Byström, who is 26, is renowned for challenging perceptions of femininity. She regularly poses with her body hair on show and has also posted pictures showing her cellulite. She uses hot pink in a feminist context as a backdrop to pieces that double as modernist, online commentary. With her fellow digital artist Molly Soda, Byström curated Pics or It Didn’t Happen, a book containing 270 images that were censored by Instagram. The photographs were mainly of women’s nipples, vaginal secretions and body hair.

In the Adidas video Byström says: “I think femininity is usually created from our culture, so I think everybody can do feminine things, can be feminine. I feel like in today’s society we are very scared of that.”

Adidas described her as “an artist, photographer, model and cyber sensation. Known for her photography, which questions femininity and gender standards using so-called ‘girly’ aesthetics.”

© Guardian