In Defense of Armpit Hair
Surprise, surprise, five days ago, Miley Cyrus did something scandalous. Set to induct Joan Jett into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the singer showed up in boobless-black dungarees with a pair of matching pasties with the letter ‘J’ on them. While the prudish Internet tutted at Miley’s lack of clothing, it wasn’t her outfit, but her unshaven armpits that brought down the torrents of trolls. This time she had gone too far – didn’t she know this was a nice event? Was nothing sacred to her?
In America, while there’s no explicit rule against letting your armpit and your razor take a break from their intimate relationship, it’s generally agreed upon that those two are bound to be joined forever til death do they part. At least if you’re a woman that is.
Men, on the other hand, can do whatever the f*ck they want. Let it grow or shave it off, it’d NBD either way. Ah, the glory of double standards. What’s completely normal on a man is gross/dirty/offensive on a woman. How far we’ve come.
According to Merran Toerien, we have the 1920s to thank for this shift in attitude. Before women became thoroughly modern, long hair was all the rage, but once flapper dresses started to hit the market, “it was largely pushed by advertising…that women could be fashionable only if they had hair-free armpits.” Because Prohibition wasn’t enough of a hardship for women to have to endure.
While fearless femmes like Julia Roberts, Madonna and Sophia Lauren have all dared to bare their unshaved pits in public, recently it seems like armpit hair is making a more substantial comeback. Last fall, in a town full of sleepless, star-crossed lovers, a Seattle hairdresser and DIY hair empowerment blogger, Roxie Hunt dyed her first pair of pits. It was a normal day at work. The sun was shining, and it was still warm enough to disregard the burden of sleeves. Who knows exactly how it came up, but Hunt jokingly suggested to her co-worker that she dye her armpit hair to match her aqua hair. Much to Hunt’s surprise, her co-worker was super game.
What started off as a whim quickly became a movement when Hunt’s DIY Pit Dying Tutorial was shared over 35,000 times. Suddenly, there were a lot of women out there interested in freeing their pits, neon hues or no.
According to Hunt, the Free Your Pits movement is “a celebration of our right to make conscious choices about our bodies,” and an attempt to “change the dialogue about what this country considers naturally beautiful.”
It should come as no surprise then when back in February, Scout Willis, a longtime champion of Free the Nipple, made headlines when she showed up to an art exhibition where her work was showing in a see-through dress and a visible growth of underarm hair.
While ultimately the choice to shave or not shave is a matter of personal choice, one thing is clear: this trend in personal hygiene is not going away. So stop hating. Sure, this is a free country and everybody is entitled to his/her own opinion, but ain’t nobody gotta be a dick about it, you feel? Body-shaming isn’t okay, and neither is pit-shaming. Let’s say it together: my body, my choice. Amen.