When the whole armpit hair thing became all the rage this summer, I thought I’d give it a try. Unless you’ve been under a rock, there’s a good chance you’ve been reading about women growing out their armpit hair for a variety of reasons.
For some, it’s bucking the patriarch and taking a feminist stand; for others it’s all about being natural and parading about with hairy armpits just as a man would.
And then there are those, like me, who figured why the hell not? If Miley Cyrus can make this armpit thing cool, then maybe so can I.
But I don’t like armpit hair. I actually don’t like body hair in general. Although I started shaving my pits and legs as a teenager because that’s what women are “supposed” to do, I continue to do so because I like to be free of hair; I like the way it feels.
I don’t care what your gender is — everyone looks better with hair-free pits, in my humble opinion. And the same goes for legs.
So, growing my armpit hair out was going to be a challenge for me, but I figured it’s only a couple months of out my life. And because the hair on the rest of my body is very minimal and blonde, I assumed my pit hair would be the same way. NBD.
I stopped shaving in early May. I actually got a whole two weeks into it, then ended up shaving. I couldn’t stick to it because it felt weird to have hair there. And on the spring days that were warmer than they should’ve been, it felt, for lack of a better word, yucky.
But I resolved to try again.
I was in France in May and although the French have been shaving for decades now, I felt it was “very French of me” to grow some pit hair. Here we are in mid-August and I’m still going strong.
At first it wasn’t a big deal and hardly noticeable. After I got over the uncomfortable factor, I was sort of at peace with it and forgot about it most days.
In June I headed to Barcelona for the month, where the weather was far hotter than it had been in Paris. When I wasn’t in a bathing suit, I was in a tank top or summer dress with a glimpse of my pit hair for everyone and anyone.
As it got longer, it came in darker and darker, far darker than I thought it could possibly ever be. But since Barcelona is a laidback, hippy sort of city, I didn’t think twice about it.
It was only when an American friend came to visit toward the end of June that my armpit hair was questioned.
She hadn’t been in my apartment for more than 10 minutes when she asked, “So you’ve given up shaving your pits like everyone else this summer?”
“Is it that noticeable?” I asked.
“Not THAT noticeable,” she said, “But I’m a beauty editor so I just notice that stuff.”
We talked about how it was a silly trend of the moment, like when normcore pubes became popular a couple summers ago and I told her it was a short-lived experiment. I’d never had armpit hair, so I wanted to see what it was all about.
By the time I got back to Paris, I had a decent size bush under my armpits. Instead of letting people notice it on their own and possibly giving them a chance to talk about me behind my back, I took the opportunity to point it out, pretty much apologizing for being so “gross.”
I didn’t want anyone to think that I wasn’t aware, that I’d forgotten, or that I’d just given up on basic hygiene. God forbid that anyone think I was disgusting for having hairy armpits.
So that’s when it hit me: I’m brainwashed by the stupid beauty standards we have for women. When I apologized, it was because I didn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable by the hair on my body that’s supposed to be there in the first place.
It didn’t matter how much I’m not into body hair; in those apologies I was conforming to standards that, as a feminist, I’m adamantly against. I may shave my pits, but I do so because I want to.
My apologies suggested that I had to; that it was my duty as a woman to protect the world from my hairy pits.
As I write this, my hairy armpits are still intact. I’m not sure how much longer this will be the case (maybe until it’s long enough to braid?), but my experiment taught me something very important: I’m indeed brainwashed.
Since this is the case, maybe I should keep my hairy pits until I can comfortably have them without making apologies for it. But I don’t know if that will happen.
I don’t care what anyone says; underarm hair makes for a sweaty hot mess and I’m sick of being a sweaty hot mess in my pits. I’m a sweaty hot mess all over the place this time of year; I should at least give one part of my body a break.