A new hair-raising trend is the latest edition to the feminist movement. Underarm hair, despite its stigma of the past, has now found its moment in the spotlight. Celebrities such as Miley Cyrus and Madonna have reinforcement the movement by posting their own pictures on social media with the accompanying hashtag #armpithairdontcare.
Although women from around the world have joined the movement by posting personal pictures of hairy underarms, there are some who refuse to follow their lead. A women’s rights advocate group in China has asked women to keep the postings coming to show the freedom women possess with their own bodies. One Chinese advocate, Xiao Meili, said:
Men have more freedom in terms of what do with their bodies. I am just saying if some people do not want to shave, the rest of us should not think their underarm hair is disgusting, unhygienic, uncivil or not feminine enough.
The initial appearance of hair under the arms is a sign of puberty. Some experience a widespread of armpit hair while others may only have a small patch. It has also been known to be coarser and longer than other body hair, and may gradually darken over time depending on one’s body chemistry. Underarm hair may be natural, but for many years has been considered unattractive and embarrassing. The removal of armpit hair is a choice which has frequently been influenced by cultural customs.
People have long been confused on the purpose of underarm hair, which seems to collect pheromones while holding on to an unpleasant scent. Biologist, however, theorize that the true use for armpit hair was to reduce friction between the body and the upper arm during motion or vigorous labor.
Contrary to popular belief, shaving the hair under one’s arm does not cause it to grow back thicker. Many cultures have historically encouraged the removal of excess body hair to promote cleanliness stating:
If body hair, including pubic, chest and armpit, is removed it cannot retain dirt, sweat or other odor-causing bacteria.
As society shifts toward a more natural look, underarm hair is becoming increasingly popular. Depending on the hair texture, some have been advised to use conditioner to soften it and keep the hair attractive by trimming it. In conjunction with the new movement #armpithairdontcare, people are also coloring their underarm hair to match the dyed hair on their head.
This trend began in December 2014 when a Seattle hair stylist named Roxie Hunt tried it with one of her clients. Before long, “Free Your Pits” had become a movement as the accompanying hashtags #dyedpits and #freeyourpits flooded social media. Hunt said it quickly transitioned from an aesthetic experiment to one which encouraged people to embrace personal freedom. The stylist added:
It is a celebration of our right to make conscious choices about our bodies. I would hope that in the next few years we can normalize the concept and female body hair and change the dialogue about what this country considers naturally beautiful.
Hunt believed whether women chose to shave or not, they should be free to make decisions about their bodies without being judged by others. The goal of the movement was to normalize the concept of body hair on women and empower others to embrace their own if they desired to do so. Hunt said, “People need encouragement, not judgment.”
The hair-raising trend of growing one’s armpit hair is being embraced as a feminist statement. Whether choosing to remove or maintain underarm hair people must take proper care to keep the hair and skin healthy. The new #armpithairdontcare movement allows the freedom to be fashionable, stylish and hairy.
By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Love to Know: Armpit Hair
Today: Everything you need to know about the armpit hair movement
Washington Post: Why women are dyeing their armpit hair
Top Image Courtesy of Malloreigh – Flickr License
Featured Image Courtesy of Stowe Boyd – Flickr License