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Hairy armpits for everyone, please!

You know what disgusts me the most about women with body hair? People who respond to it like it’s gross, dirty, unfeminine, and/or unacceptable.

In July, blogger Paloma Goñi wrote an article called “I Don’t Shave” on HuffPost Spain (which was translated to English for the version I refer to here).

It’s amazing what a controversial act not shaving actually is when you’re a woman. It is genuinely startling how people get so angry, disgusted, embarrassed, and worked up about what some women choose to do (or not do, rather) with their body hair.

Goñi realized she hated the rituals of body hair removal, opting out of them during the winter months. This caused her to question why she was doing it in the first place, realizing that it was unnecessary.

As a woman with fair skin and dark hair, Goñi isn’t able to camouflage her body hair the way someone with fine, blonde hair might be able to. Me, for example.

I’ve gotten into the habit of not shaving my legs for long periods of time, but I have the privilege of having leg hair that isn’t super noticeable.

Goñi, however, deals with really obvious body hair when she doesn’t remove it, and very likely the negative responses of people who notice it. She really got me thinking with these words in particular:

“How have we arrived at this situation? I’m amazed that we’ve reached the point where a woman who doesn’t get rid of her body hair, hair that grows naturally, is a rare specimen

I am critical of the point we’ve reached where there’s no choice about whether or not we remove our body hair. It’s a given, period.”

Hair removal really is one of these weird expectations of women that not many people question. It wasn’t until I met other women who didn’t shave their armpits that I even considered it as an option. And seeing it took a lot of getting used to, even for me, and I consider myself super open-minded on the subject.

Just as seeing diverse bodies in media helps to create more acceptance of various types of bodies, seeing women with body hair helps make people more comfortable with it (and, why shouldn’t we be comfortable with and accepting of something that’s natural, anyway?)

One of the first ways I began getting used to seeing women with body hair came from the Tumblr, Hairy Pits Club. Goñi links to a Facebook page that is along similar lines.

Additionally, this read by Marie Le Conte, that Goñi shares, is very insightful. I have to share her last two paragraphs here, because her words are my thoughts, spot on:

My point here is that throwing away your razor really isn’t, or at least shouldn’t be, a big deal. Standing naked in front of a mirror and lifting my arms up felt weird at first: I felt a lot less attractive, and nearly ashamed of my body. Then I got used to it, and started wishing that other women would do the same.

In fact, I’d just like it if it could just become something a bit more normal. Just like wearing heels, dresses, or make up, shaving should become more of a personal choice again: something you do because you feel like it, not because the thought of having three hairs on the side of your bikini would fill you with shame or uneasiness.”

I couldn’t agree more with every line in those two paragraphs. I, too, wish that other women would do the same, or at the very least, that people would not be so quick to judge and shame the women who choose not to remove their body hair.

And I hope that all women will dig a little deeper and ask themselves if they’re making these kinds of decisions based on what they truly want for themselves, or not.

Stacey Jean Speer earned her Bachelor’s degree in Women and Gender Studies at San Francisco State University in 2012. While she waits to discover her calling in life, she enjoys utilizing the tools she gained as a student of Women and Gender Studies to critique media and the world around her from a feminist perspective.

5 thoughts on “Hairy armpits for everyone, please!

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  1. I’ve been a feminist since I was in my early teens and started to become aware of the double standards applied to women. However, after being called “gorilla legs,” I did start shaving my legs.
    I have very thick hair on my legs and I’ve had a lot of trouble finding a razor that will actually cut through it. With all the musculoskeletal and pain problems that I have in my middle years, I’ve quit shaving my legs, but I find that I’m very self-conscious about the way they look.

  2. I really enjoyed this article because now that it’s fall/winter I don’t have to shave my legs for the rest of the year until spring. I shave out of habit since I was 12 or so because that is what was imprinted on me at a young age and because everyone was doing it. The longest I have ever gone without shaving is 3 weeks so trying to go 6 months will be hard for me. Hair is natural but society and the beauty industry has made a big hype about hair removal. I can’t even listen to the radio without a commercial advertising laser hair removal or watch the TV without an advertisement for shaving legs. I have tried many products for shaving hair like nair, bikini trimmers (I got it from As Seen On TV) which didn’t work at all, and the regular shaving 1 to 2 times a week but this year I am taking a stand and not shaving and be proud of it and show off my legs regardless of what other people think or react to me. I have always been a free-spirited person but society has put control over those who are free-spirited and want to tame us and make us feel oppressed about having hair. I say it’s time for all women to stand up and unite and throw those shaving gimmicks away!

  3. I’m sorry to hear about you being insulted for your body hair, and that it’s led to you feeling self-conscious about your legs. Wishing you the confidence you need to rock that body hair with glowing self-love! 🙂

  4. Well done Paloma and Marie – you are absolutely right in your views. Unshaven women are far more sexy than shaven ones.

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