Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Shaving - My Hairy Little Secret

 This blog may contain TOO MUCH INFORMATION for some of you. If you don't want to read about shaving habits and armpits, just move on.

Right now.

I mean it.

OK. Don't say I didn't warn you!

I shaved my armpits yesterday for the first time since December. Yes. That December. Yes. Three months ago. I thought I'd feel sleeker, cleaner, better. When I look in the mirror, I certainly feel more attractive. But I don't feel cleaner; I feel sticky, poky, uncomfortable.

I don't really know what spurred me into growing hamsters in my armpits. I think it had a lot to do with raising girls and my tendency to question why we do the things we do. Why should I teach them to shave their 'pits when the time comes? WHY do American women DO this? Is this the best thing for our health? If not, shouldn't we educate our girls about the importance of maintaining 'pit health in the interest of their overall well-being? Is popular culture more important than personal health?

OK, so I get the whole cleanliness argument. It SEEMS logical that if you shave, there will be less hair to trap bacteria and the stink that arises from them. But that only seems logical because it's the way I've been taught, what my forebears believed. Others claim the 'pit hair draws moisture away from the skin, thereby reducing the moisture in which bacteria can grow. The hair also relates to pheromones, the chemicals we associate with scent but which are also related to sexual attraction, among other chemical signals. (Even the scents have been studied.)

So: hair = cleaner skin = cleaner pit, right?

Not so fast.

There has also been quite a bit of talk in recent years about the the relationship between 'pit health and the health of the lymph nodes. One hot topic is the debate over the health implications related to using antiperspirants (which, by their nature, are intended to keep the 'pit from doing its job as nature intended) versus deodorants. It seems to me that if my body is intended to cool itself and otherwise release chemicals through the 'pits, I should let my body do its job.
But it looks terrible, you say.

I couldn't agree with you more. I was raised on Western culture, where sleek, fit, young women are the bomb and fat, hairy girls are, without question, out. Why? Because that's what marketers of whatever description decided: actors, directors, models, consumers, the whole kit 'n caboodle. When was the last time you saw a hairy model or actress portrayed as a beauty in Western media? Or even as above average?

So, between the fat and the hairy, I've certainly been living on the wrong side of the tracks in the beauty village. This winter, however, only three people saw my pits, all of them living in this house, two not yet affected too greatly by popular culture. None of them seemed to mind. None mentioned it. If we were in most other parts of the world, I would have fit right in. Hell, with this much 'pit hair, I might even have been revered! (I had no idea how hairy chick 'pits could be!)

I thought I could buck our societal norm of the shaven 'pit. I did. But only in my private little world, the winter world where long sleeves, or at least sleeves, hid my hairy little secret. Now summer's coming and while I realize that I've been avoiding the pool for lots of reasons, it wasn't just my slow swimming and poor physical condition, but ultimately the 'pit hair that kept me cloistered. WHAT would people say? Would they avoid me? Would my friends there be repulsed? (One could then ask, of course, if they're really friends if something as simple as 'pit hair could get in the way of good company.)

Today was it. I couldn't hold out any more. Maybe it had something to do with recently aired television commercials, which several friends have mentioned without knowing about my dirty little secret. Maybe it was a lifetime of cultural education. Maybe it was vanity. Certainly it had something to do with vanity. Whatever. I grabbed that razor and in second undid what took weeks to cultivate.

I fit in with my friends and neighbors. But I feel sticky and stinky and filthy even minutes after showers.

So if you must look, prepare yourselves; the hamsters are very likely to take up residence again.

Photo courtesy Alva under Creative Commons License.

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  1. Go ahead, Auntie B! Post it! You know you want to!

  2. Well, just to comment on armpit hair, Mine must be Himalayan hamsters, but them I grew up in a cold climate. ha ha.

    You can always swim in our pool, hairy or not.

  3. Wow! I guess I grossed some folks out! Lost 20 subscribers after posting this. Too bad. Ah well.

  4. I to am known to grow longer in the winter. I can't believe people would stop following your blog over armpit hair. Touchy subject I guess. I know my Dad agrees with the antiperspirant vs. deodorant aspect. Unless there is an unusual amount of sweat, why stop it? Its suppose to be there... And, my best friend has been a non shaver since high school, and I like her all the same. In fact I think she moved to Boulder Co. just to fit into an armpit hair society. :)

  5. beautiful armpit...
    love it...
    wanna kiss it... mmuah..

  6. that armpit is sexy

  7. Keep the hair. You're a real woman.

  8. lead the revolution!!
    Post more on this topic!
    and by the way, what about leg shaving??
    It's totally crazy!

  9. I am sending my co bloggers over here....
    About time someone pointed this out.
    And what about the razor companies? They're laughing all the way to the bank.

  10. Not everyone's armpits are attractive (hairy or not) but yours are. Lucky! If you want to let the hair grow, that should be your choice.

  11. some years ago some women still did not shave, now the hairy days seem to be over...why? maybe it has to do with our mania for youth. or it does not fit in today´s established ideal of beauty. To me hairy armpits are sexy and not just secondary sexual characteristics.

  12. I haven't shaved regularly since I was thirteen (I'm 27 now), and I can only imagine how much time, money, and irritation I've saved. Shaving armpits especially sucks.

  13. I love women having hairy armpits,it really turns me on..

  14. Amen! I know just how you feel. Though I am usually good about shaving my armpits I will go for 6 months or more in the winter without shaving my legs. Winters here start late October-ish and run well into March and April. It takes a LOT for me to finally cave and go buy a package of razors but I eventually do, and why? Because “they” say so. Who are “they” to tell me what is best for me, “they” don’t even know me.

  15. I can’t shave, i refuse to shave… After years of shaving I realised that my body hair was now coarse, thick and ingrown! I now wax, and of course this means I have to wait for the hair to grow out first… I live in a place where it’s pretty much hot all year round so i can’t hide my legs or pits! But no one seems to mind… The small town isn’t really like that, no one is bothered. Here people find it amusing to see a tourist climb out of their air conditioned 4WD caked in make up and wearing high heels.

  16. I just trim mine (with blunt ended scissors or a beard trimmer) every few weeks. That way it doesn’t get out of hand, but it also doesn’t get ingrown.

  17. HEY! This original post has been re-published (with permission) by We Are The Real Deal (

  18. youre disgusting.

  19. And that, Anonymous, is my point - unjustified, unhealthful societal norms imposed upon everyone by folks like you cause too many people to do too many unhealthy things just because someone (who is afraid to give her name, no less) will tell us we're "disgusting." I'm healthy. I'm natural. I'm growing more comfortable with it every day.

  20. it took 3 years to convince my wife to stop shaving - now from labor day to memorial day I have a natural woman :)

    I far prefer her that way

  21. I love a girl with some hair on her pits!;)
    keep the hair!

  22. I am coming across this posting more than a year after it was written. Perhaps it is far too late to add to the conversation, however, I just wanted to say that I applaud the author for her honesty and courage to write about a topic that is indeed controversial. The topic remains relevant today. There is incredible pressure on women to shave, reinforced perhaps more vigorously by women than by men.

    It is sad that the misconceptions of natural pubic hair and hygiene persist. If underarm hair is so unhygienic, then shouldn't men shave under arm as well?

    It's nice to read your healthy perspective on it: it's simply a choice. Not shaving isn't a social crime, and in fact is perfectly fine, especially in winter.
    Personally, I say let it grow! Be natural. Be yourself. Be comfortable with one's own body and let other people do the same. There is far too much pressure on young women to conform to today's "standards" of beauty. It's been well documented how those pressures lead to eating disorders and body-image issues and profoundly affect a young woman's self-confidence, self-esteem, and success in life.

    Thank you for bringing up this topic and I hope it makes more mothers consider what messages we're sending our daughters when we say any body hair is "disgusting." I hope more women follow your lead and put down the razors (at least seasonally) and have open, honest conversations about the topic.

  23. Kudos for Not Shaving. Thats the way it should be. Apart from health reasons, pit hair keeps you from turning into mannequins. I wish my wife w'd not shave ....

  24. nice that :)

  25. If that's your armpit, then DO NOT shave it. Its just the right amount. Its beautiful, sexy...and I bet, smells nice too.

  26. Don't ever change! Lead by example.

  27. I really liked this post. It is strange how people get bent out of shape about hair, especially when it is on a woman. I personally don't care either way - a girl wants to shave she can shave, she doesn't want to she doesn't have to.

    Plus, being a guy, I shave my face only once a week. I hate shaving so I would never force it on anyone.

    What I don't like is the need for women (most, but not all) to be completely hair free. That just seem perverse to me. Why try to always seem younger than we are? It's not cleaner, its not more attractive. Cleaner and more attractive is, in my mind, always being you.

  28. You go girl! This is one man who LOVES your hamsters. If Mother Nature didn't want it there it wouldn't be there. Go Natural. Grow them out again soon, you look BEAUTIFUL!

  29. You look just fine to me, girl!:)



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