Should women shave their armpits?

This is a particularly interesting thing for me to write about because firstly I am not a woman and secondly I have become enlightened in regards to the subject.

You’re perhaps thinking to yourself that this is a particularly weird thing for me to write about. I mean it might be, but it sparked from a conversation I overheard from some students who spoke about body hair on females. One of the boys simply stated that men should have hair and women shouldn’t. To a lot of people this may be seen as an unacceptable thing to believe let alone say but in reality we can’t really blame a 16 year old for believing this… can we? I mean when I was that age I’m pretty sure I believed the same thing. We are constantly shown what a “normal” female body looks like and what a “normal” male body looks like. Ultimately a female body will have shaved legs, shaved face and shaved armpits. And at such a young age we don’t really question it, that’s just the way it is. When in fact what this does is create an ideology of perfect body image and when we are presented with something that doesn’t conform to this we reject it.

And as I said I did believe females should have shaved bodies until I had an experience in 2013 when all of a sudden I was surrounded by females who not only had armpit hair but celebrated it. It was a totally new concept to me and because I was already in an environment where I had to be open minded and accommodating I just simply accepted it and haven’t looked back since (if you know you know). One of my favourite people on this planet has armpit hair (love you Efro) and it has just made me question why it is that women are supposed to have shaved bodies.

Let’s also put things into perspective here. Growing hair is a completely natural thing so where did this idea of women having body hair being disgusted come from? More than 99% of women in America shave their body hair allegedly. Whether this is down to personal preference or believing that women just simply shouldn’t have body hair is impossible to discern. But having said this can it be argued that this ideology of the hairless woman has informed a females preference on whether she would like body hair? If we weren’t brought up on the notion that women should be shaved would more women have body hair? We can’t really say but I believe more females would. There would be a vast majority of females who simply couldn’t be bothered to do it and would not have to care what others think and there will be a section of females who actually like and embrace their body hair.

Coming back to the conversation I overheard it was particularly significant that it was the male who believed that women should not have body hair. Because of this in an effort to look desirable to the opposite sex females will shave. It will be argued that the majority of males would prefer a hairless female but does this preference only stem from the societal viewpoint that hair on females is unattractive. I mean some women love hairy men, are there some men who like hairy women? Having said this though if a female does choose to have body hair should they condemn another female or male who finds it unattractive? This is the society we’re living in and this is what people believe it would be wrong to berate them for this. However it would also be unfair for those same people to demand that a female shaves her body. Who the hell cares? Why is it a problem? If you want hair have hair, your body is giving you hair don’t feel ashamed.

It is also important to foster this mindset in young females who will go through a period where they will start to grow hair in places they haven’t before. It would be a shame if they immediately thought that it was disgusting and ultimately became ashamed of their bodies. It’s vital for them to know that it is completely natural and it is totally up to them whether they want to shave it or not but let’s not be naive to the external realities. They must also be aware that in some environments and to some people it is unacceptable for a woman to have body hair.

I recently saw an interview with two women, one who had grown out her armpit hair and another was totally against the idea. Both are human beings and both opinions should really be tolerated because really… who the hell is right? I don’t bloody know and in fact it doesn’t even matter. All that matters is feeling comfortable with your body whether it has hair or not. There was a question of professionalism brought into a debate and whether it would be acceptable to attend a job interview with armpit hair. I mean of course you can easily hide it but its a matter of what is seen as acceptable for men and females in the work place. If a job required a female to wear a uniform which showed her armpits or legs is it acceptable for management to tell them to shave? Of course this will have no affect on the person’s ability to do the job but in terms of impressions on customers I think it is perhaps acceptable. As I said before there is a social stigma on female body hair and company branding is a real thing. Anyway I digress…

Our bodies are perhaps the thing that is most personal to us. Although we’d all like a world where the way we look isn’t governed by societal norms, unfortunately it is but it also gives us the opportunity to challenge them. Not to mention that not having to worry about shaving every few days is particularly liberating.

In conclusion, I’m neither pro-hair nor anti hair. I am just a believer that hair is just natural and whether you want it or not is completely up to you. The societal connotations do exist and its important to be aware of those but ultimately why the hell do any of us give a damn?

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