But we’ve been told since we went through puberty to change our bodies so we can look “clean” and fit in with the other girls. Since puberty is happening earlier and earlier, some girls are learning at the age of eight or nine that our bodies are unclean and must be modified. We shave our legs, we shave our armpits, some of us shave or trim our pubic hair. But what gives? If body hair is so gross and harbors bacteria, why don’t men shave their body hair?
And it hasn’t always been like this. American women up until the early 1900s didn’t shave their hair. In the 1920s, a razor blade company started an ad campaign claiming that armpit hair was unhygienic and unfeminine. In two years, sales of razor blades doubled with the influx of women who were convinced by the marketing. A razor blade company changed how women view their own bodies. It’s so obvious that they were (and are) more concerned with their profit margins than the actual hygiene of Americans.
But more women are starting to go against the mainstream and show their hairy pits. Madonna and Julia Roberts are high-profile celebrities on the red carpet who proudly lift their arms in their designer dresses to show their au naturale status. Growing out armpit hair has even become a charity event. In 2012 and 2013, Armpits4August started a month-long movement to encourage women to grow out their armpit hair to support a charity for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Much like Movember (where men grow their facial hair in November), it’s a simple yet visible way to support a great cause.
As a feminist, we all have a choice to do with our bodies what we will. Whether that means shaving, tattooing, piercing, or any other forms of body modification. But I refuse to shave just because it’s what society tells me to. If I shave, it’s because I want to. And the past few years, I haven’t really felt like it.
What about you?
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