I have a complicated relationship with my body hair. The socially acceptable hair on my head and my eyebrows causes me enough stress as it is while I figure what length or colour or shape to keep it, but then there’s all the rest.
Upper lip hair isn’t welcome on my face, at least not while I work in beauty and write on the internet, a place where commentary on my every feature seems fair game and the moustache comments get a little tiring. I don’t give a shit about my leg hair, though, which I haven’t shaved in almost a year and which is increasingly seeing the light as I go to the gym more and as we emerge from the horrific winter my New Zealand city has just experienced.
Somewhere in between these two extremes is the hair growing in my armpits. In my armpits? On my armpits? However you want to phrase it, that hair has been part of my consistent hair removal routine since it started growing about a decade ago. It’s only recently that I’ve reexamined why I get rid of it, and I haven’t been able to justify it soundly.
I made an informal survey of my friends on Facebook, and it seems that most people who shave their armpits are aware they do it because of society’s conditioning to believe that women should be hairless, but aren’t brave enough to shake that yet. Some people reported getting itchy or smelling worse when they didn’t remove the hair, but others find the opposite.
I’ve been letting the hair grow for at least a month or so, and I haven’t noticed any changes in body odour or itching. I’m not certain if I’m in this for the long haul yet, but here are a few badass babes rocking hairy pits for inspiration.
Julia Roberts might come to mind as the OG Oscar-winning pit-hair flaunter, but Sophia Loren was working it decades earlier. She’s a true heroine of glamour and even at 81 years old she’s killing it, as much as she was in the sixties.
My friend Georgia
She’s not famous, but she’s a babe and she’s probably the first real-life friend I had who ditched the pit-shaving habit for good. I think it’s pretty important to have role models who are happy to have hairy armpits on show with no fanfare and normalise the whole thing.
Earlier this year Jemima Kirke had her pit hair out at the CFDA Fashion Awards, and despite this being the twenty-first century, entertainment media wasn’t into it. Popsugar called it a “Yeti armpit” and dismissed it as a trend, which is weird unless you consider “natural part of being a human” as trendy.
I’ve never watched Girls and I didn’t know who Jemima Kirke was, but I’m into her for taking a step that she surely knew would garner a bunch of crap.
One of our very own, Sable is a paragon of sophistication, and I think she could possibly single-handedly lead an entire generation to abandon armpit shaving for good. I mean, just look at her. I don’t know how she does it.
Everyone photographed in "Natural Beauty"
"Natural Beauty" is a photography project by London photographer Ben Hopper intended to encourage people to question standards of beauty. He’s photographed a bunch of women, some famous, some not, all showing their armpit hair. It feels like a solidarity thing to me—the more people you see challenging convention, the more support you feel in doing it yourself.
Can you believe this honey is coming up on sixty? I don’t know if I love Madonna as much as Kara, but I could definitely listen to "Frozen" on repeat until I die. She posted her pit hair on Instagram in 2014 but she has talked about having hairy armpits way back in high school. Maybe the level of influence she’s had on pop music will translate to pit hair too.
I’m hoping that by the time my armpit hair is a little longer, I’ll be game for bleaching and dyeing it too. I know Miley’s done it, and Kelly, too, but I’m more interested in the less famous people of Tumblr who are rocking it.
Do you shave your armpit hair, or let it grow? Why? What about dyeing it?