Let it sprout
Canel Ataman’s hair pony challenge celebrates female body hair
In lockdown we were forced to deal with the self. Model and influencer Canel Ataman also started this journey. The 25-year-old calls for hair volution – but only as a woman feels comfortable.
GUIDO: Why was it so important to you to start the Haarmony Challenge?
Canel Ataman: The idea of the challenge didn’t grow on my crap. I heard about it for the first time from a German-Iranian influencer. It really touched me because I could identify with her. I started my first hair pony challenge in February. Corona lockdown and the cold were good conditions for me to try the whole thing: Nobody sees legs and armpits because you wear a lot. Plus: the facial hair is also covered by the mask.
When I was at school I was called a monkey because of my hair.
To what extent has this changed your view of the ideals of beauty?
After seeing the challenge for the first time, I first had to reflect: Until then, I had never seen my body as it was without my intervention. For example, when I was at school I was called a monkey because of my body hair. I was so intimidated that since I was eleven years old, I kept removing all of my arm hair. In the meantime it has become much more relaxed. I want to get away from this smooth, literally barbed person. Edges and quirks are perfect beauty for me – especially if you can wear them outside and feel comfortable with them yourself.
How do you deal with stereotypes?
Men are either directly fetishizing me or they call me disgusting. Deep, time-consuming insults come from women.
I’ve heard that I didn’t understand feminism, that I put nonsense in little girls’ heads, or that I am unhygienic.
Does your care routine differ now?
In general: Hygiene does not mean shaving, but washing. Our body hair has a purpose: namely protection. In the genital area, for example, fungal infections occur less frequently. At the same time, one does not fight against razor burn, which in the worst case could be infected by sweat. Water is perfectly adequate for washing – medication and intimate products should only be used if they have been prescribed. At the same time, I learned that I like my legs to be smooth, but that I find the genital area and armpits with hair more beautiful. If they get too long, I just trim them.
Sometimes you share the hate messages that you receive on your channels. How is it in real life: do you experience backlash from within your own ranks of friends: inside or family?
I get a lot of support. The girls in my circle of friends are also starting now because they find out for themselves that it really is less stressful. It sounds harsh, but I always like to tell the following: I had something with a guy back then and on the date I said straight away: ‘Hey, sorry, I forgot to shave.’ He replied: ‘Hand on heart: I want to sleep with a woman. Children are sleek, adults have hair. ‘ It was important to me to hear that. Everything suddenly made sense and that’s why I communicated it so loudly. I don’t want other women to need a man first to make that clear. We should experience this among ourselves in order to find our own way instead of chasing after men’s preferences.
Do you perceive that you are a role model for women?
I don’t like to call myself that, because it entails a lot of responsibility. If a Turkish woman contacts me who is 10 years older than me and says that my contributions made her think, that is the best payment for me. At the time I would have wished that I had had someone who made me feel normal. Every now and then you smile at the fact that people on the Internet can help you. But above all they can sometimes help you because they are not right next to you and you can filter that for yourself and implement what you want.
What is the most important thing that you have taken with you on your journey towards self-acceptance?
My dad always told me that life is a learning process and that if you stop learning you are no longer alive. Yes, life can make you feel like you are worthless a thousand times. You still have to try somehow to learn from everything that happens. Even if it “only” means knowing what you don’t want.