Growing Out Armpit Hair

It kind of doesn’t matter what I say in this post, because there are going to be people who form unshakeable opinions about it just from the headline. Some people think armpit hair on women is gross, unhygienic, disgusting, unacceptable. Some people think shaved armpits are a sad symptom of being held in captivity by the patriarchy. Others fall somewhere down the middle, with a “do whatever’s right for you” mentality. I’m a member of the latter group… or, at least, I want to be. My relationship with my body hair is a complicated one.

On the one hand, I can agree that women probably wouldn’t be shaving their armpits smooth every day of their lives if we hadn’t been told time and again that that’s what attractive, reasonable women do.

I can understand the argument that by not taking a stance against certain beauty standards, you’re letting the bad guy win. On the other hand, I like participating in some of the standards, because I like performing femininity.

I want to live in a world where nobody feels compelled (or forced) to follow strict and sometimes oppressive gender guidelines, and I also want to follow the ones that work for my personality and style.

At least at this point in my life, a lot of aspects of traditional femininity resonate with me, and I enjoy the girly rituals of painting my face, spraying stuff on my hair, and shoving my feet into strange objects to make my hairless legs look hot.

I started to enjoy these things even more once I got a better understanding of how gender identity worked, and when I realized that I get to pick and choose which feminine qualities I want to exhibit. I present my girliness consciously, on purpose. That’s why it’s really frustrating that I can’t decide what to do with my pits.

Removing armpit hair is one of my least favorite parts of the beauty routine, but I’d never really considered skipping it until very recently. Would I feel self-conscious in a tank top if I knew black hair could come peeking out?

Would I feel more relaxed and in tune with my natural body if I didn’t have to worry about razor burn or dull blades under my arms every morning? I’m not sure, because I’ve never tried. I’ve shaved that hair away since I was eleven years old.

I don’t even know what it looks like, what it feels like. Maybe I would completely hate going without a shave, or maybe it would feel so right that I’d never look back. Maybe I… should try it.

I still haven’t decided that I’m going to really do it– grow out my underarm hair, I mean– but I’m going to give it a little bit of a shot. I’m going to go four days without touching it, and I’ll reevaluate how I’m feeling after that. If anyone else is interested in embarking on this odd experiment with me (or if you have experience with letting your body hair roam free and you have some advice for me!), don’t hesitate to let me know. This is going to be weird, but I hope I’ll learn enough about myself to make it worthwhile.

Why do people grow out their armpit hair?

Why do people grow out their armpit hair
Image via Instagram/kelseymaggott

Ben Hopper is a London-based photographer who shot a series called “Natural Beauty,” which featured conventionally beautiful female models with exposed armpit hair. The series is jarring and plays off of the deeply ingrained idea that women should be free of all body hair in order to maintain their beauty, and the fact that the body hair doesn’t diminish their attractiveness is supposed to challenge our notions otherwise. It’s quite beautiful and minimal, and overall effective.

I don’t entirely understand our collective revulsion about armpit hair on women, but I admitted earlier this year that I wasn’t entirely immune. It’s a completely internalized prejudice based on an arbitrary standard, and it’s bizarre that someone somewhere decided that women had to remove their body parts in order to be attractive. But it went a step further–it’s not that body hair is unattractive, we’re told that it’s disgusting, unclean, masculine, and horrifying.

That idea is pretty limiting in the grand scheme of things, given that in reality people find a diverse variety of qualities attractive, and not everyone goes for the hairless thing. Hopper himself said that “as [he] matured as a person and an artist, [he] realized [he] liked [armpit hair]. It can be a beautiful look.” I know people of all genders who are attracted to women who don’t remove every ounce of their body hair, and that spans all sexualities, including straight dudes who’ve been told their whole lives to seek out waxed, hair-free women. The problem with having one beauty norm is that not every person on earth fits that mold or finds that mold attractive, even if they’ve been told they’re supposed to.

Hopper wants to be clear that he’s not taking a stand against hair removal if that’s what you want to do with your body.

“I don’t want to say that I want women to start growing their armpit hair. I just think that it’s a possibility and people shouldn’t dismiss it. I’d like people to just question [beauty standards], the whole thing.”

The key here is that all people should feel entitled to do whatever they chose with their bodies, and that beauty norms are stupid wastes of time that don’t actually serve a purpose. I think these photos are all beautiful (and actually really do fit the beauty norm with the exception of the body hair), and I only wish there were more representations of all forms of natural beauty more widely visible.

Armpit Hair Question

Photos Of Women With Armpit Hair

How long can your armpit hair grow?

I would second waiting for longer than 4 days, as things will get a lot less prickly after about a week. I grew my leg hair out over winter (not consciously, I was just sick, stressed, and living alone and it slid to the absolute bottom of my priorities list) and it was a horrible slog for the first week or two. After that, the hair tips softened out and I just didn’t notice it anymore.

Seriously, only 4 days? In my opinion, you should give it at least a week. The more time, the softer the hair will become. In 4 days all you’ll have is horrible, itchy, stubble. (isn’t there an article about bikinis growing out around here somewhere?

I also definitely want to second going longer than four days. It should be a week at the least. Four days is right around when it’s going to be at its prickly, hellish worst, but if you can power past that, you’ll probably forget all about the hair (at least, I do).

Why do we have armpit hair?

I did this earlier this year for similar reasons! I enjoyed having armpit hair, but once it got very warm out it was kind of (everyone hates this word, but it’s very apt here!)…moist. I think I will grow it out in the fall/winter and shave in the summer going forward.

I found that putting a bit of perfume oil in the hair made me feel kinda sexy and got rid of any self-consciousness about smelling too, erm, earthy?

The first few days are going to be itchy, baby powder helps (for me at least)!

Is it better to have armpit hair or not?

I went two months without touching my body hair during the winter a few years ago. My legs sucked. I’ll never grow out my leg hair again. It poked through my tights and the friction made it itchy even after it was past the stubble stage. The only thing I found inconvenient about my pits was that I’m a sweaty gal and it got worse when there was hair. It’s the same reason I don’t go full bush in the nethers. if I don’t keep that area trimmed up a bit, I feel like I’m sitting in a swamp.

Why women should shave their armpits?

I stopped shaving my armpits about a year ago, at first because I was lazy and also wanted to experiment, and then because it made me feel super-awesome and also more feminine. Now my hair is actually pretty soft and I haven’t felt more sticky through the summer. If anything, I think the hair might wick sweat away? I don’t know if it works like that but…yeah.

Yes, that is exactly the reason we have underarm hair to wick the sweat and control the smell.

I had to shave my armpits a couple of weeks back for a part in a local film, and I hated the resulting smell! I can’t wear antiperspirant, just deodorant (yay skin allergies!), and since this happened to coincide with typical August weather, I wound up gagging every time I had to raise my arms just a couple of hours after leaving the house. So yeah, shaving actually makes me feel grosser.

Is it good to shave armpit hair?

Honestly once I stopped shaving both my legs and armpits and got through the first couple weeks of feeling really paranoid and anxious going out in public unshaved, it’s been HEAVEN. I feel so much happier now that I’m not constantly worried about if the stubble is showing, if I missed hair (I’m not good at shaving, probably because I didn’t even start until I was 17 and also I hate it), or if I’m even going to feel like it. It’s also a pretty good deterrent for the kind of dudes that I know I won’t want to date.

How often do you shave your armpits in the fall or winter?

I’d be happy to try this with you in the winter when I wear sweaters and can decide how I feel about this in private before accidentally showing my armpit hair to people / possibly having to answer questions about it.

I shave my legs like once a month and my armpits once a week, but I am a hairless freak when it comes to my legs/armpits.

What is the purpose of armpit hair?

I choose to not shave my armpits this summer. I kinda liked it. It’s really soft and not that long at all. And I didn’t sweat as much this summer. I was quite conscious about it in the beginning, still am, that someone might see or notice. But I don’t really see any pros with shaving now, except that it follows the beauty standard.

So now I’m at a point where I only shave for special occasions or outfits that makes me to hyper-conscious if I don’t shave.

Is it OK to not shave your armpits?

I don’t shave unless it’s absolutely necessary for a role I’m playing. I smell worse when I do, I hate the feeling of clothing seams against bare skin, I have enough nicks and scrapes from fighting mountains to add to them by fighting razors as well, and I can think of just about anything. I’d rather be doing it in the morning, not least of which is sleeping! But I understand it’s also a personal preference, and that others may have exact opposite reasons from the ones I gave for why they continue to shave.

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