As of October last year, I stopped shaving my armpits. Of course, I’d heard of other feminists doing it, and thought it was pretty damn awesome. Yet, I never mustered up the strength to throw out my disposable razors and go “au naturale.”
Oddly enough, I hadn’t shaved my legs consistently for about a year before I stopped shaving my pits. I didn’t really show my legs off, so didn’t see the need. However, every time I jumped into the shower, I always made sure my underarms were smooth as a baby’s bottom. That was, until the next day, where a furiously itchy, red, bumpy rash made my armpits feel like they were on fire. It was one particularly bad occasion that made me impulsively throw out my razors, and I have never returned to them.
I have always felt that body hair is a personal choice, so it never seemed like a big deal to stop shaving. I would love to tell people I stopped shaving to fight the patriarchy and to combat society’s beauty standards, because that sounds much more impressive than “because I got a rash.” And whilst, I suppose, my passion for feminism has given me the carefree attitude to dump the razors, it was more for comfort than a political outcry.
However, it seems that regardless of my explanation, people always associate my hairy armpits with me being a bra-burning, hairy, angry feminist. Even when at my liberal and loving workplace, I have to cover up my underarms due to a few awkward conversations with customers regarding my body hair choices. I feel uncomfortable wearing tops with no sleeves, just because I do not want to have to explain myself everywhere I go. The stereotypes have already been set in place, and I fit all the criteria.
I am hoping that when I move to art university in a few weeks, that I will be among open-minded people who will not care about whether I’m shaven or not, but I know this is a pipe dream. I am always going to come across people who do not agree with me, and are not interested in my reasons for growing out my armpit hair, but I’m okay that. And I’m okay with being an angry, hairy feminist. I just wish everyone else was.