On the surface, the outrage at Lola's video does seem entirely based in disgust at her unshaven armpits. In one comment thread, she is called "ugly," "nasty," and "bitch" so many times that counting each instance becomes a Herculean task. Kirke is also repeatedly referred to as "slutty," "gross," "hoe," "disgusting," and "unhygienic." The emoji with the closed eyes and the surgical face shield is used hundreds of times.
Interrupting this endless tirade of insults are supporters, desperate to remind Lola that she is "beautiful" and "awesome," but the hate just keeps coming at a rate that demonstrates that this isn't just about one moderately famous woman's underarms.
The men leaving insults on the thread mostly make it about them. @triggeredredmemes says: "I don’t want a bitch that won’t shave in bed with me." @anthony_ramirez.24 says: "I wish I didn’t see this." @just_finding_nemo says: "I don’t understand why some women don’t shave their armpits." @xx_.king._xx says: "it’s different on a dude but you bring a female in the picture that look decent then got hairy ass armpits that sh-t ain’t adding up. plus idk a dude that like that on there girl." And @tiamobieber seems to feel threatened by having a woman embrace something that he believes is a male privilege: "Disgusting! YOU ARE A WOMEN NOT A MAN."
Then there are the men who think this must be a publicity stunt, for no right-thinking woman would ever willingly leave hair on her body without real (financial?) motivation to do so. @Mohragabfans says: "Clearly she doesn’t have a career. Nobody is paying her any mind. So, she figured. Growing my disgusting armpit hair will get my whack ass self on some headlines (which happened) but don’t forget, she did that all to grab the medias attention. It’s sad to be this desperate and thirsty." @Joshsa7 agrees: "I love her but she is so badly trying to prove a point by not shaving its unbecoming."
Interestingly, the women expressing outrage make it about their own idea of feminine roles, which, in turn, often reveal some serious, internalized misogyny. Some have strange notions about the dangers of armpit hair for women like @lizre, who states: "If you people don’t like to shower, shave, brush your teeth etc. Fine but the truth is that it is disgusting without hygiene people can get sick."
Then there's anti-underwear police like @solas_one, who says: "Someone tell her that we have kids in instagram.. we don’t need to poison there minds with this kind of sh-t…someone tell her to send this video to her husband and not to a bunch of perverts…" and michelle_cookie101, who says: "I’m reporting you bitch for nudity and porn… Shave your pits dude."
The overriding message, if you subject yourself to the entire thread of comments, is twofold: 1. Lola Kirke must be brought down a peg or two, and 2. Women's bodies are public property to be dissected and commented on at will. Much of the thread issues outright demands to shave, as if Lola's body is a public monument to be designed by and voted on in a virtual town hall.
The amount of attention focused on Lola Kirke for this one, silly, short clip also demonstrates how much our culture has been focused, for so many decades, on making women feel terrible about themselves at every opportunity. Not only do many of the Instagram commenters make that their goal, but a major reason this post generated an abnormal amount of traffic is because, in those eight brief seconds, it was clear that Lola Kirke was feeling good -- about her body, about herself, about her life. And the sight of that turned out to be so jarring, on such a deep level for a great many observers that they felt the need to remind Lola -- and all of us -- that there is a real price to pay if you allow the world to know you are a confident woman. If you happen to be such a woman with the nerve to not observe every single one of the extremely narrow rules around American beauty ideals, things will be even worse for you.
Earlier this month, Lena Dunham interviewed Camila Cabello about how the 19-year-old has coped with stardom in the pop group Fifth Harmony. Wise beyond her years, Cabello said: "The best decision that I've taken in my career thus far has been this year; I've just stayed away from social media. I don't go on it... Even though I know that there's way more support than there is hate, I don't have that in my head."