Words by: Freya Hall
Let me start this article with a disclaimer: I am not an underarm hair aficionado; I am merely a 22 year old woman, trying to forge her way in the world, who happens to have slightly hairy underarms.
I confess, my abstinence from shaving has only lasted four days and I am not entirely certain whether my stubble is a consequence of sheer laziness, an underlying desire to wear my feminism brazenly upon my sleeve, or because I find a bit of hair aesthetically pleasing. But really, at the end of the day, who gives a shit what my ‘reason’ is?
Underarm hair has been receiving a lot of attention lately, partially because an unprecedented number of celebrities have decided to forego the razor. Some of the celebs currently brandishing body hair include Miley Cyrus, Petra Collins, Madonna, and Jemima Kirke.
Attention was also sparked recently when hundreds of women in China participated in an ‘armpit hair selfie’ social media competition to raise awareness about gender inequality. The 6 winners of this competition went home with innately feminist prizes including condoms, vibrators, and freestanding, female urinal devises.
Despite the fact that female armpit hair has received an extraordinary surge in popularity in recent months it appears as though acceptance is predominantly restricted to niche people and circles – basically, you either have to be a celebrity, a feminist, or ideally both to ‘pull off’ the look. If you do not meet these criteria, and decide to attempt a foray into the word of axillary hair anyway, you will, in all likelihood, encounter a barrage of opposition from your peers, family and friends.
I was most recently affronted with this kind of opposition when I was scrolling through Facebook and noticed that someone I went to high school with had posted an article about women’s underarm hair. The article contained an array of photographs of beautiful women proudly exposing their unshaven pits. Good for them, right? Wrong! How dare they grow their own hair and not expect to receive widespread criticism from Facebook trolls!
Here are some of the real life responses that this article provoked:
- Anonymous woman: “your armpits would stink so much! Bad body odour for sure!”
- Anonymous woman: “Ok yep I don’t feel like lunch anymore. That is gross.”
- Anonymous man: “yuck that is a turn off.”
- Anonymous man: “bruuhhhhhh…. (emoji of person shooting themselves in the head)”
- Anonymous man: “I was eating a sandwich and lost my appetite.”
And my personal favourite:
The fact that female body hair incites so much disgust that people feel physically revolted is unfathomable to me. Body hair is synonymous with puberty and therefore womanhood, being a woman is beautiful, and therefore female body hair should be considered beautiful too. Now, I’m not saying you need to ‘let it grow’ in order to be a beautiful, self-respecting woman, but I believe that women should be able to be hairy without fear that they will turn someone off their lunch.
People need to stop body-shaming women into feeling pressured to adhere to sterile, narrow-minded, out-dated preconceptions of beauty. The misnomer that hairlessness equates with beauty is continuously force fed down women’s throats by magazines, beauty brands, and pornography. Removing your body hair is a preference but it is continuously sold to women as an obligation, a norm, and an expectation.
Take this commercial below for example, it defeminises women in order to shame them into buying their hair-removal product. This commercial makes my blood boil…or more accurately, it makes me want to grow my leg hairs so long that they rival Rapunzel’s tresses.
So in conclusion, should you shave or not? Well to be honest, I don’t care. If you decide not to shave for feminist reasons I applaud you, there is more than enough sexism in this world to turn anyone off a razor. If you decide not to shave because you’re running late for work, or because you left your razor in the shower and it’s covered in rust, or just because you feel like you can push the stubble one day further, I applaud you also. And if you decide that you like your body to be as meticulously free from all pubic hair as humanly possible, well I’m okay with that too.
So go, be free! Wax! Laser! Vajazzle! Bleach! Grow! Do whatever you please with your hair because goddadmit all women deserve to be as lazy, neurotic, opinionated, and unkempt with their hair as they please.