Adidas model says she received rape threats for showing her hairy legs in ad

A Swedish model spoke out on social media about receiving rape threats for showing off her leg hair in a new Adidas ad.

“My photo from the @adidasoriginals superstar campaign got a lot of nasty comments last week,” Arvida Byström wrote on Instagram. “Literally I've been getting rape threats in my DM inbox.”

She went on to say that she can’t imagine what it must be like for those less privileged than her who also have non-conforming features.

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Byström followed up on her original post, letting her fans know that while she doesn't actually feel as though she's in danger, she does find the language people were using toward her to be concerning.

I’ve been wanting to write something on this for awhile, and this whole adidas thing makes me feel it is pretty relevant to bring it up. I started calling myself a feminist back when I didn’t get big ad jobs and honestly didn’t imagine I would ever do. Also this was a time when feminism wasn’t really a topic of the public discussion in the same way as it is today. Back then I probably claimed I made or wanted to make feministic art, which is why this term seems to be tied to my professional life just due to some mistakes I made as a 20 year old. I am as a privat person a feminist but in relationship to my work I would say I’m not. Me being in an adidas campaign is great fun, it is a company I enjoy working with and that makes cool stuff, but since all companies are very integrated in our capitalistic system they are inherently non feministic in the sense that this system is built on imperialism and that to me can’t be feministic. So even though I have hairy legs in an ad campaign I guess to me it doesn’t make me a hero of any kind and also not more of a feminist. I do want to thank everybody for the kind support though. All of you who have been writing the past few days have been incredibly sweet and that truly warms my heart. I just think that this thing have been blown a little bit out of proportion making it seem like I’m scared of being raped. Basically it was some people in my inbox writing these things. Of course that’s unpleasant and I do think it is a problem that men use sexually violent language when women doesn’t abide, but I don’t actually think these people are gonna rape me. I mainly get concerned for the women that has to be around these men, because having that kind of abusive language coming from somebody that you know or are physically around you is very painful and damaging. Luv to you all and here is a lil animation I made for @ssense that I think is super cool and wish got as much attention as my leg hair.

A post shared by arvida byström (@arvidabystrom) on

“I do think it is a problem that men use sexually violent language when women [don't] abide,” she wrote. “I mainly get concerned for the women that [have] to be around these men, because having that kind of abusive language coming from somebody that you know or are physically around you is very painful and damaging.”

Adidas originally posted the ad featuring Byström to their Instagram page, praising the model and artist for her photography, “which questions femininity and gender standards using so-called ‘girly’ aesthetics.”

While many people were praised the photo, defending Byström’s choice to not shave her legs, others were quick to judge, leaving comments like “I’m attracted to girls not monkeys,” and “hairy legs = gross.”

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In a statement to HuffPost, a spokeswoman for Adidas defended their decision to use Byström in their ad. “Adidas Originals is honored to work with creators like Arvida for their creativity, diversity and unique ideas,” she said. “We lend the breadth and depth of our brand to give our collaborators a platform for positivity, discussion and change.”