I didn’t shave my armpits for a month and I didn’t feel like an empowered feminist
I didn’t look as cool as Miley Cyrus either
If it isn’t Lola Kirke strutting her hairy armpits around the Golden Globes, or Miley Cyrus showing off her furry pits, it’s random feminists on Instagram showing how much more of a feminist they are than other women by refusing to shave their underarms.
Already being a militant feminist, I wanted to see whether having that extra bit of fluff under my pit made me feel more empowered, and whether shoving those BIC razors in the bin could make me feel like one of the suffragettes.
The whole idea of growing my body hair made me feel pretty “icky”. Looking for inspiration on Instagram with the hashtag “#HairyWomen” made me cringe a little inside whilst I imagined them to be smelly and unhygienic. But then the same images of men’s armpits didn’t make me feel grossed out, and I used this as proof to how conditioned we’ve become as society to make women shave the hair off their bodies.
I decided to bite the bullet (or the razor) and grow my armpit hair out for a month.
The first day of the challenge meant throwing those razors in the bin. I felt sad to be saying goodbye to them, but excited for the challenge ahead. Was this going to be the start of a new me? Was this going to be a new beginning? Or was it just going to be a bit of a hair raising situation?
I decided to carry out my challenge for the month of January, so that if it really did freak me out, they wouldn’t be on show.
I wondered whether my whole perspective on how women are forced to look by society was going to change. I was also curious as to whether I’d actually really like it and decide to grow it out for good.
Things were going well. I’d managed a whole seven days without shaving a single hair off my armpit and it didn’t feel as bad as I thought it would. I had stopped wearing sleeveless tops though, and instead opted for long sleeved jumpers to shield my hairy-ness from the world. I just didn’t feel particularly feminine when I looked at the hair under my arms. As far as I was concerned, it looked ugly and quite manly. Even though there was only a bit of stubble there, it seemed like there was a whole lion’s mane of hairiness living under there, and I missed having smooth pits.
I’d managed 14 days without using a razor, and it was making feel a bit grossed out to look at my furry underarm. I could sense people staring at me in the gym as I did my overhead presses, staring at my under arms while I strutted around in my swimsuit. Maybe this “going cold turkey” was making me mega paranoid. Maybe I didn’t look as much of a yeti as I thought I did. However, one thing that concerned me was whether I was beginning to be more smelly, with sweat clinging onto the hairy fibres.
It was four weeks into the challenge and I plucked up (pun intended) the courage to wear a sleeveless dress for a night out. I must say, it was a pretty hairy situation, but I made it through. Nobody seemed to notice, and if they did, they didn’t say anything.
I still felt conscious of raising my hands above my head, however, and spent most of the evening dancing like a penguin. It was a weird thing, especially considering the number of men I saw proudly showing off their hairy chest and underarm hair. Why did I feel so uncomfortable when Miley clearly felt so proud to show it off?
After a tumultuous four weeks, it was time to shave off my armpit hair. Part of me felt sad to be saying goodbye to this bit of fluff I’d been carrying around for four weeks as it swirled around the sinkhole, but it was onwards and upwards to a new chapter in my life. I didn’t feel more of a woman for having a smoother pit, but I also didn’t feel more empowered with hair.
However, having lived for four weeks with hairy armpits, I realised it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It definitely made me a lot less anxious about having hairy pits, and I actually found that it looked quite cool on some people. Yet, it is so unfair that women spend so much money and so much time fretting about the natural hair on their bodies, when most men don’t seem to give a shit about their own hair. We aren’t shaving our hair for ourselves, but we’re doing for other people in society, and putting too much pressure on ourselves to look a certain way.
So, ladies, it’s time to throw out those razors and give the world what for.
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