The Sun: Better not copy those celebrities and stop shaving your armpits!

// 2 January 2009

beyonce.jpgYou couldn’t accuse The Sun of being subtle, could you?

A number of high profile women, including Beyonce and Maggie Gyllenhaal have apparently appeared in public with a bit of armpit hair. Some of them even did so at fancy-pants red-carpet events!

What if any their female readers got the ‘wrong idea’ and decided to copy – after all, even by patriarchal standards, these women are amazingly gorgeous, and if they can pull it off, maybe armpit hair isn’t actually hideous!

So, the newspaper has a two pronged attack – a slideshow where they make ‘subtle’ digs about female celebrities armpit hair like:

“If she was a boy … Beyonce’s hairy pits would be fine”

“We are just Charmed that Alyssa makes no effort to hide her unshaven havens.”

“WE now know why you’ve never been kissed, Drew – it’s those fuzzy pits of yours.”

And a diary by a 26 year old they challenged to go two weeks without shaving, where she talks about how disgusted she feels, and also being shunned by various men. (Not surprising at all, given how prevelant the notion is that women must shave their armpits in order to appear socially acceptable, let alone attractive.) The piece finishes:

The A-listers are welcome to have hairy underarms, but I won’t be growing them again — it’s the pits.

So, there you have it, readers – don’t let those celebrities give you any fancy ideas about ditching the razor!

I don’t mean to imply that it’s necessarily ‘better’ or ‘worse’ to not shave or shave – whatever works for you. (Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.) Or to dismiss the negative reactions that women who don’t shave may come in for, in some contexts. But isn’t it interesting to see how The Sun reacts to a few celebrities appearing au naturale, armpit-hair-wise, by making snide comments and attempting to shame women out of it?

(H/T Jezebel)

Comments From You

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 2 January 2009 at 11:09 pm

Since when is ‘to shave or not to shave’ newsworthy? When it is used to once again blame women for not making themselves sufficiently sexually desirable to men.

Removing all female bodily hair is a political issue and it is all about keeping women in a constant state of worry because the ‘male gaze’ is everywhere. When oh when will we read newspaper headlines saying ‘male celebrity was photographed displaying his underarm body hair.’ Or, male celebrity was photographed showing a small amount of pubic hair. Now that would be news because men’s bodies are never subjected to minute scrutinisation by male-dominant and male-owned media.

Obviously The Sun considers women’s bodies to be more important than reporting on the latest round of violence occurring within Gaza. Oh and by the way Sun newspaper since when was it considered acceptable for males to have body hair? Why else are male razors constantly advertised within media if male body hair is considered acceptable?

Louise // Posted 2 January 2009 at 11:11 pm

I got hairy armpits. No one seems to care, apart from my fashion-conscious parisienne friend who deemed my mini-bushes “disgusting”. And I pull the best guys ever.

Kirsty // Posted 2 January 2009 at 11:39 pm

I was raised believing that you should always shave your armpits/legs if they’re going to be out in the open, but as a rather lazy person who doesn’t necessarily believe that bald is more beautiful than hairy (or vice versa) I often don’t. My mother recently caught sight of my hairy armpits and asked what was going on; I explained that I just hadn’t bothered to shave in a while, especially as it’s really cold at the moment. Her exact reply was: ‘Oh thank goodness! I thought you were growing them out as some kind of -statement-.’ I think it’s really sad that we’re raising a generation of girls who believe that hair on a woman is intrinsically ugly and disgusting.

Kirsty // Posted 2 January 2009 at 11:41 pm

Also, is it just me that can’t see any hair in Beyonce’s armpits in that photo? They look remarkably like my armpits on a ‘good’ day.

R. // Posted 3 January 2009 at 12:03 am

I chatted with Amanda Palmer after one of her shows over the summer about arm pit hair. She hadn’t shaven hers for the show – I noticed because I was right up front.

A woman’s right to choose what happens to her own body should most certainly apply to armpit hair.

earlgreyrooibos // Posted 3 January 2009 at 12:33 am

I still shave my pits, but I quit shaving my legs six months ago. My mom noticed and said “you actually sleep with your husband with hairy legs?” uh, yeah . . .

Chrissy // Posted 3 January 2009 at 9:42 am

The Sun’s piece about the evils of armpit hair makes one big presumption: that women will want to attract the sort of men/people who read The Sun in the first place; that women will care that some men care about armpit hair.

If you read the end of my comment fast, you’ll discover it accidentally rhymes :)

LottieElle // Posted 3 January 2009 at 10:55 am

Sometimes, like Kirsty, I’m kinda of lazy and because I’m a feminist I like to think I’ll shave for my benefit and not anyone elses – however my mother actually had a go at me about how “disgusting” and “unfeminine” I was being. It’s not surprising though as she hates the thought of me being a feminist anyway!

lucy // Posted 3 January 2009 at 12:29 pm

“…and also being shunned by various men.”

I actually find this pretty hard to believe. The minority of men who’ve ever reacted negatively to my armpit/leg hair were imbeciles… and even then, i still receive as much “complementary” (if it can be called that) street harassment when i am hairy.

i really hate this beauty industry-created idea that all men have fallen for the myth that women must be like hair-free infants to be attractive, when the fact is that most of them aren’t that stupid.

Anna // Posted 3 January 2009 at 1:38 pm

good christ. those women’s armpits look like mine on an incredibly good day.

they’d scream if they saw mine.. I started off just not shaving because my boyfriend had moved away so I couldn’t be bothered with it – four months later I’m absolutely covered in hair (my legs could rival any rugby players) and I actually rather like it, it’s so much less hassle.

Aimee // Posted 3 January 2009 at 1:47 pm

This issue makes me FURIOUS. SO SO angry – mainly because of the venom with which it is enforced. If a woman doesn’t wear makeup no one says it’s disgusting – but if a woman doesn’t shave she is immediately revolting. The message is that women are fundamentally wrong and flawed. It makes me SO SO angry, and I don’t shave for that exact reason – because I am not flawed and I am not going to validate a notion of women which is not that of women themselves, but of women as opposites to men. I believe we are forced to shave because women have been delineated as “not men” and since men have hair, women MUST not. But we are not “not men” we are women and we HAVE hair. I refuse to deny it, and i think that more people need to take a stand against this because frankly it’s damaging to women’s sense of identity.

ms liberty // Posted 3 January 2009 at 5:02 pm

I’ve only shaved my legs & pits once over the last two years. The reason for me is simply that I prefer having long, dark hair to the unavoidable greasy little shadow you get from shaving. Plus I was always covered with cuts, because I shower in the morning, when hand-eye coordination isn’t at its best.

I think it looks better this way. Who cares, anyways? The revolution will not be taking place under my shirt.

ms liberty // Posted 3 January 2009 at 5:05 pm

And not to flood the comments, but I went to the front page and was re-exposed to that atrocious “If she was a boy…” remark.

If she was a boy, you’d chastise her for being so bald! Gender discipline is a double-edged sword.

JenniferRuth // Posted 3 January 2009 at 6:23 pm

Where, exactly, is the hair in Beyonce’s armpits?

Kath // Posted 3 January 2009 at 6:38 pm

This comment isn’t going to add anything insightful, but I just love opportunities to say how much I like my armpit hair! I think hairy pits are really sexy, and so does my boyfriend :)

Natasha // Posted 3 January 2009 at 7:10 pm

Not that I expect anything less from The Sun, but good grief. First of all, Beyonce’s underarms in that photo look like mine on a very good day. Secondly, WHEN is this near-vilification of body hair going to stop??

As an Indian lady I am hairy. Arms, legs, face, you name it. Not to the extent of some friends, but still. And I hate having to feel as if I MUST go through the monthly ritual of making myself something I’m not. Because if I don’t, I’m somehow disgusting.

As an aside, when I was with my boyfriend, I didn’t shave my legs for relatively long periods of time – only really if I felt like it or was wearing a particularly short skirt. Did he care? No. Was I fussed whether he did or not? Not particularly? And it didn’t affect our sex life one bit(!) So ha, The Sun! (lol).

tefelome // Posted 3 January 2009 at 10:11 pm

i do shave my pits, because i happen to smell more if i have them hairy, which i do sometimes. ive got light hair so i often dont shave for ages, but i prefer personally to shave them cause of smelly business, but each to their own i say, shave them or not, who cares!

Saranga // Posted 3 January 2009 at 11:44 pm

I can’t see any hair on Beyonce’s pits! Good for her on not shaving I say. Shaving is a bloody chore, boring and leads to ingrowing hairs which are very annoying. I usually only manage to shave 2 or 3 times month, mostly because I’m lazy.

Catherine // Posted 4 January 2009 at 12:07 am

Whilst I do depilate my armpits for the odd occasion when I’ll be really dressed up and on display and can’t be bothered with potential comments, for most of the summer (when they are visible) I don’t. The reason? Hairless armpits are arguably attractive on day 1. On subsequent days, when they are itchy, bleeding, scabbed, suffering chemical burns, or pus-filled cysts, depending upon the method of hair removal, they are a hell of a lot less “attractive” than clean, healthy, slightly hairy armpits (no, I am not appallingly cack-handed, I just have sensitive underarm skin). I _cannot_ shave my armpits everyday without harming myself. Funnily enough, I therefore don’t.

Kate Smurthwaite // Posted 4 January 2009 at 7:21 am

At the Abortion Rights fundraiser comedy night last month I was telling a story about my sister-in-law asking for a Brazilian wax at a salon in a remote part of China and the beautician having never heard of the procedure and thinking it was weird. And a woman in the audience heckled shouting “It is!”. I love a feminist heckle!!

chem_fem // Posted 4 January 2009 at 11:53 am

I occasionally shave my arm pits and I have never had any comments when I wear short sleeve tops with hairy pits. I once forgot that I hadn’t shaved in months before wearing a very girly strappy pink dress. I looked in the mirror before going out and realised the over sight, and it was the most hilarious sight of really bushy under arms poking over the top of my dress. I shrugged and went out anyway and nobody batted an eyelid. It just isn’t that big a deal.

Anne Onne // Posted 4 January 2009 at 2:26 pm

That tiny amount of underarm hair is what they’re getting all this vilification for?

God, I hate society. Some of us are hirsute. We just are. People come in many shapes and colours and sizes,and we also come with varying hair. Sometimes men aren’t very hairy. Sometimes women are.

I love being a feminist, though. I used to be a lot more self-conscious about my abundant body hair before I realised that it doesn’t dictate my value as a person, and that there are more important things than worrying about your body hair. So, sometimes I shave, sometimes I don’t. Depending on whether I’m bored, mostly, but I do admit to shaving when I don’t think opaque tights or capped sleeves will do. Admittedly, it’s following sexist rules, but if people aren’t ready for a bit of light body fluff, they sure as hell won’t take glorious and copious leg and underarm (and everywhere else) hair. Because unlike thes celebrities, whose underarm hair nobody would be able to notice if they were not famous, lots of us have VERY noticeable hair.

Which is why I think the most insidious lie we get told about body hair isn’t about our pubic hair or underarm hair or leg hair, because adverts admit we actually have it, but the hair on the rest of our bodies. The media likes to pretend that all women have literally no hair anywhere. stomachs are hairless, thighs have no hair and arms are naturally peachy. What a lie.

Sure, some women have very, very fine body hair that literally is barely noriceable, but a lot of us don’t. I’d bet a lot of models who are shown close up with most of their body exposed have to wax or shave everywhere, but we’re always told that we’re supposed to be naturally hairless everywhere but our pubes, underarms and shins, and that we’re supposed to shave these, too.

Princess Rot // Posted 4 January 2009 at 5:36 pm

Immature devil that I am, I would love to run up to any of those men featured in this, er, “article”, shove my pits* in their faces and yell “booga booga!”. Not that it’s any use to do that, it would just be funny to see their reaction.

Anyway, this whole “female body hair is disgusting” meme is a load of hot air. Everyone has some body hair, why the huge fuss about it? It’s ridiculous. Shaving is a hellish waste of time and resources, and all those disposable razors, depilatory chemicals, waxes, sprays, gels and creams are an ecological disaster. I would love it if people would stop obsessing for a moment and think what all of that does to the environment. If we stopped buying these products and others like it, all that crap would not be pouring into landfills, into the oceans, into the atmosphere, and a lot of money would be saved that could go to better causes. We’d go a long way in removing the beauty myths if we thought about the long-term effects of what it does to the planet and what we can do to change it. Take the focus off micro-managing women’s bodies for a change!

*For the record, no, I do not shave, wax, pluck or anything. The only justification I could probably accept for shaving is that it might make me go faster down a waterslide.

Anna // Posted 5 January 2009 at 7:51 am

Eh…what hair? Where?? I can’t see it!

Amy Clare // Posted 5 January 2009 at 1:30 pm

I agree wholeheartedly with Princess Rot – not removing our body hair isn’t only a feminist imperative, it’s an ecological one too. I’ve been downsizing my use of cosmetics over the past year (including ditching shaving) and haven’t experienced any adverse consequences; the opposite in fact.

The whole shaving thing is a con (like many of the patriarchy’s rules) because bits of hair in tucked away places like armpits don’t affect a person’s attractiveness. But The Sun is not only doing its duty as bastion of male privilege, it’s dancing to its advertisers’ tune as well. Making women feel insecure and then offering them a ‘solution’ in exchange for cash is a multi billion dollar business. No doubt next to this ‘article’ was an advert for Gillette.

What depresses me the most though is the fact that overseeing this exercise in gender stereotyping and insecurity-peddling is a female editor. Along with the female editor of the Star, she must have a piece of her brain missing to sell out her own gender so thoroughly day in day out.

Paulette // Posted 5 January 2009 at 1:38 pm

There’s a new craze sweeping my local football team… Hollywood’s for men. Once you get over the initial shock, it’s quite a pleasant sight, smells better, feels better. Hairiness isn’t male / female, it’s a personal choice and I applaud their (unknowing) feminist statement.

Aimee // Posted 5 January 2009 at 4:31 pm

“Hairiness isn’t male / female, it’s a personal choice”

I’m not sure. I bet no one is telling these men that if they don’t shave off all their hair, then they’re disgusting. Men have the choice: to shave, to not shave, to do whatever the damn hell they like with their own bodies. Women do not, as the article in the Sun has shown.

George // Posted 5 January 2009 at 5:42 pm

Paulette – the argument “but some men do it too!” doesn’t exactly persuade me. It isn’t about personal choice when women are actually seen as shockingly disgusting when they don’t shave by “real life” people and the media alike, whilst men can get away with it.

Moreover, I don’t think that all the unshaven people who have commented above have an aura of sweaty genitals floating about them, nor that everyone is equally enthusiastic (in their personal choices) about “smooth” skin, which we all must know actually descends into stubble rash and ingrowing hairs at the slightest irritation.

Annika // Posted 5 January 2009 at 8:01 pm

So. This hair debate. AGAIN.

Who care’s if Beyonce shaves or not?? Really?? I don’t. What I don’t get is how this managed to make a national newspaper? Have the people at The Sun got nothing better to write? Obviously not…

In terms of shaving, sometimes I do, sometimes I do. I don’t actually see much difference in my legs unless I look at them closely, and even then I don’t care much. I’m comfortable with me and my body, and whether it is hairy or not is not an issue to me. Its a case of being bothered to do it, in my opinion. Most times I can’t be bothered, and I don’t feel any less of a woman or human being if I walk around with hair on my body. I feel the same.

My body, my choice. The problem lies with those who don’t get it, not with me.

r.dickie // Posted 5 January 2009 at 10:19 pm

Please be aware that a very large percentage of men much prefer that their wife or girlfriend NOT shave. It is only public pressure that makes these women shave.

Bumble // Posted 6 January 2009 at 11:48 am

Although the Sun feature is horrible, I’d say it has definitely produced a positive outcome, in this forum at least. I’m a burgeoning feminist and have always been fairly chilled about shaving generally, but still finds the idea of going out in a sleevless top with bushy armpits unthinkable, it has really made me think – thanks everyone. Maybe Ill be a bit braver in future.

Anne Onne // Posted 6 January 2009 at 4:02 pm

r.dickie: the problem is, life shouldn’t really be about what men do or don’t prefer their girlfriends to do with their body.

I can see the point you’re trying to make, but it is a VERY tricky one to pull off without looking like a controlling partner. Because it still implies a male partner telling their female partner what to do. It just switches the instructions. And it’s not those we have an issue with: shave, not shave, who cares. It’s the being compelled to do it we have an issue with.

The same argument also comes in several flavours:

– most men like curvy women therefore the silly women who ‘starve themselves’ are just doing it because of their insecurities.

– Most men don’t really like big boobs therefore women worried about their small breasts are being silly.

– Most men don’t need a woman who looks like a supermodel, therefore women who wear ‘too much’ makeup are stupid.

These all imply that women are silly if they don’t do the above (in this case go against the trend) because most men don’t care apparently, so what other reason could women have for doing something. Must be irrational or something…

All this is predicated on the importance of women following a standard. If it’s not society’s standard as a whole, it is the standard of whatever man a presumably heterosexual or bisexual woman* is dating at the time.

Can you see why this is a problem? We’d have to live our lives guessing whatever each man we dated or slept with was into, and how he would want us to look/behave. It’s not only impractical, it would be promoting an unhealthy obsession with gaining someone’s approval for everything you do.

The bigger issue is that it’s our bodies, and therefore our right to do with them what we will. Most people recognise this basic right to some extent, but most don’t apply the logic this far. It still seems ‘fair’ to many people that women should consult their partner when considering altering their looks, and the implication still is that women are supposed to choose their appearance based on what will attract men, not around what they want.

Your argument is supposed to be helpful in that you’re trying to point out that not all men like shaved women, which may be true, but it ignores the bad experiences most women have with body image, especially from men. I’d think few women have never been insulted based on their appearance, or told by a potential/actual partner that they need to do X to be prettier. Women are taught that their appearance is the most important thing about them, and that they must try to please as many people as possible. They then learn how to please from the media and those around them.

It’s not really helping women when men declare ‘but most men I know want women to do X’ when X is against the norm, because it only gives women confusing messages. On the one hand, they get punished socially by many men and women for doing X (not shaving, being ‘curvy’ etc), on the other suddenly men are telling them to do X. Women are still being ordered around, only now with added confusion. That’s why we need to change the system. If women can do what they want, society and men be damned, there’s less pressure to follow any route, and less punishment for not doing so. Women get to do what they want, and get to learn that it’s OK to out what you want first. And men learn that women don’t need to live around what men may or may not want. Just like men have been living for years.

I wonder, though, is that standard (men want a woman to shave, be curvy, not wear make-up etc) really all they say it is? I believe that relatively few men who make these assertions truly stand by them. How often do we meet men who say they like ‘curvy’ women but then admit they refuse to date someone over a size 16, and admit they only lust after size 8 celebrity women. that’s not really accepting ‘curvy’ women, it’s wanting slim women with big breasts, and just widening the net a bit in real life because you won’t meet a page 3 model (no offense intended to page 3 models or celebrities, they’re an example). Likewise, many men who complain about women spending too much time preparing, or have too much makeup, do they really accept women who dress casually and wear no make-up? They’re often the first to complain that a woman ‘hasn’t made an effort’ and looks ugly.

The point isn’t that nobody should have preferences at all, but that absolutely strict preferences (I won’t date anyone who looks like X) come across as discriminatory, and say something about those people. It’s everyone’s right to date who they wish, but the reasons someone sees someone as un-dateable says something about them, and sometimes it’s not nice. Chemistry comes in all forms, but there’s more to it than a ‘lack fo chemistry’ when someone fetishises a narrow range of people as physically attractive.

Also, many men DO expect their wives or girlfriends etc. to do with their bodies as their male partner says. Many men do tell women ‘you’re not making an effort anymore’, that they’re ‘putting on a bit of weight’ that they’re disgusting because they don’t shave, or that they could be slimmer, or more beautiful. Questionnaires (I can’t find a reference at the moment, but it was in the papers a while back) suggested a noticeable proportion of people wanted to change their partner’s appearance. This was across both the sexes, but it’s worrying to me that we as people are encouraging people to feel a degree of posessing our partners’ bodies, that we demand a say in what they do with them.

I don’t get what’s so romantic about ‘loving someone so much’ that you want to tell them what to do with your body: isn’t it more loving to accept their body as it is, and respect their personhood and choices? This means more than men telling women it’s OK (that they have men’s permission) not to shave or wear make-up or be fat or whatever), we need men to stand up and declare that it’s not their right to control our bodies. We’re fighting for the public right to control our bodies regardless, but being an ally sometimes means making just as much of a fight to show that one doesn’t deserve a privilege, in this case over women’s bodies. We need more men, who when asked about their opinion of something their wife did with her bodies, says something like ‘What? It’s her body, she can do what she wants with it. As for me, I love her regardless. She doesn’t need to jump through hoops to please me’, rather than a personal list about how his particular woman doesn’t mind following X personal turn ons of his, and how he thinks that women with X are so much more sexy than women with Y.

In short, we need men to stop pitting women against other women (e.g. no ‘but curvy women are so much hotter than skinny bitches!’ comments) and stop implying that social standards all around us don’t matter (‘I don’t see where she’s getting it from, because all men I know love X’) and that what would be healthy and easiest for women would be to ascribe to whatever seems to please men.

It implies that women who do anything else, whether because of society’s pressure, or because they want to do what they want with their body, less valid than women who happen to be what these particular men want, or women who try to fit this particular model.

And the customary disclaimer: This isn’t about people’s (male female and everyone else) right to have personal turn-ons, or even politely suggesting these to their partner. It’s not that it’s inherently bad for a man to like women with hair, or without, just as the reverse is true. It’s not. What is problematic here, is the focus society has where it expects women to make a show of pleasing men, and lambasts them for not doing so. It’s about how we are all invited to judge women by our own standards much more than we do men, even though women have so many more standards to worry about. It’s about the way we educate men to believe that it’s their right to tell their girlfriends how to look, what to do, how to act, and that if she does what she wants, she doesn’t love him, thereby giving men standards whereby women have to surrender autonomy for men to feel happy and loved. It is unfair to women for its cruelty and standards women can’t win at, and infantilisation of women even as it sexualises them. But it’s also unfair to men, because it gives them beliefs that things they would never do are something that their girlfriend should do. It may cause them distress, annoyance or whatever, because they never realise they are being unreasonable at all.

*I’m aware the issue seems a little heteronormative, but I have little experience with whatever standards lesbian or gay or otherwise genderqueer couples apply. I’d guess it’d be up to the individuals, same as heterosexual couples, but I’d hope that there may be less of the societal expectation pressure in a non-conforming relationship.

Edward Allen // Posted 6 January 2009 at 8:15 pm

Personally, I love the unshaved look and I find the shaved “smooth” and “bald” look to be ridiculous, artificial, and boring. It also symbolizes the oppression and subjugation of women by the fashion industry. I greatly prefer a natural woman, but it’s hard to find any who haven’t been brainwashed into being “anti-hair.”

Missy // Posted 7 January 2009 at 1:57 am

Seriously, I cannot find a hair on Beyonce’s arm pit. What if it is just a skin or birthmark? Ok, how about a woman who never shaves or trims on her private part? Is it a big concern? The society and the males should know and respect other people’s decision to shave or not to shave. It is depends on their cultures and religions. Remember, everyone has their rights to do with their body and their body is part of arts. Every bodies are different and we are born to learn, make decisions, and accept the differences in our lives.

Joanna Gill // Posted 8 January 2009 at 8:28 pm

If we spent less time engaging in discussion about arm pit hair we would:

a) be taken seriously

b) have more time to read about useful topics of discussion

c) stop obsessing about vanity – which is both a feminist and masculinist issue – get over it.

Jess McCabe // Posted 8 January 2009 at 10:41 pm

@Joanna Gill I’m interested, what do you mean by “masculinist”?

This is a reaction to a harmful story in the national media – it’s not feminists who are obsessed with things like arm pit hair, it’s wider society. The Sun thought it was worth dedicating a lot of column space to; that’s interesting. Suggest this post on Feminism 101, ‘Why are you concentrating on X, when Y is so much more important?’

Anna // Posted 8 January 2009 at 10:55 pm

I thought of this thread this morning when I got out of the bath – due to being a weird flavour inbetween dark hair and a redhead, I’m ginger where it’s generally considered unfortunate and have really dark hair on my body with incredibly pale skin (ticking all the ‘undesirable’ hair boxes nicely there.. but it’s late and I digress) and I was looking at my legs as I got out of the bath and thought I looked so bloody unfeminine with all that hair on them.

I had to stop myself and think Christ, Anna, it’s female hair on a female body, how much more feminine are you supposed to get?

The whole thing is daft. I’d like to find whoever it is that started this whole you-must-be-baby-smooth-everywhere-or-you’re-not-feminine thing and slap them.

Nadina // Posted 14 February 2009 at 7:57 am

Ladies, don’t feel like you need to shave your pits because soceity tells you that’s the norm. In all actuality shaving plus applying anti-perspirant increases the chance of cancer and has been proven through many studies. Having armpit hair protects the skin from absorbing the harmful chemicals in deodorant. Leave the hair alone it’s there for a reason!

Jess McCabe // Posted 14 February 2009 at 11:16 am

Nadina, I’ve not heard that one before – but if there are carcinogenic chemicals in a deodorant, personally I wouldn’t want to use it in any circumstances.

Anne Onne // Posted 14 February 2009 at 12:33 pm

Anna: When I feel like that, I try to make a joke of it: I tell myself that I have the shiniest, silkiest leg hair! People think body hair is coarse and ugly, but if you look at it closely, it’s just as smooth or shiny as the stuff on your head. Not coarse or ugly, but a natural beautiful thing in it’s own way.

It’s so ironic that we pursue perfection with hair on our heads, yet we want to get rid of pretty much all other hair.

And Joanna: maybe armpit hair actually does matter to people? Maybe some people are naturally almost hairless, but for those of us who are not, knowing everybody thinks you’re absolutely repulsive in your natural state because you look like the mammal you is depressing. And people thinking they have a right to tell us what to do with our bodies, and judge us, leads to a lot of problems for women.

I’d be wary of saying flat out that it increases cancer risk, because carcinogens are in a lot of things we use every day, and dose is a big factor. There hasn’t been any conclusive evidence as far as the National Cancer Institute of the US is aware, and Google searching brings up more pages debunking the idea than supporting it.

It’s perfectly possible that they have some effect (I certainly don’t like our overdependence on cosmetics to obssively sanitise!)and that more research needs to be done, but at the same time the issue of the effects of the chemicals around is us more complex than X causes cancer.

Anna // Posted 14 February 2009 at 5:09 pm

I went t’pub last night, wearing short sleeves with my unshaven armpits. It was roundly agreed by all there (including one of the bar staff.. cringe central) that they wouldn’t sleep with me as armpit hair on a girl is gross and somehow unhygenic. I challenged them to say why it’s seen as ‘gross’ on a woman and not on a man and all they could come up with was ‘well.. it just IS. it’s *wrong*.’

It’s sad. Stupid hair, stupid attitudes.

Nadina // Posted 15 February 2009 at 3:53 am

Hi Jess, one of the studies I was referring to can be read at:

It has alot of interesting points that everyone should consider whether male or female.

This is my personal opinion but I feel that women especially go against nature to conform to what soceity tells us is appropriate. Hair naturally grows on our heads and for the most part we dont shave it all off, so why do we need to do so for our underarms?

The whole hygienic thing is really out there as well. As long as one bathes on a regular basis there should be no reason why a person should have body odor due to body hair.

Julie // Posted 3 March 2009 at 4:39 am

Young men rejoice and are socially rewarded when they come into puberty and receive their first body hair. When we come into womanhood and begin to show signs of physical maturation such as growing body hair or starting our periods we are taught to be totally fucking ashamed. Having arm pit hair is sign that we have grown into our bodies as women. By shaving it off are we not trying to reinstate our infantile prepubescent bodies?

We need reform the media’s idea of what womanhood looks like. They cast an image of a prepubescent girl as the standard. By shaving we are infantalizing ourselves.

Straight Men! You find women attractive right?

Women HAVE body hair. Young girls DO NOT.

If you are attracted to women with no body hair what is that implying? Not neccessarily about yourself, but the culture which has ingrained that standard into you. You are taught to think that infantalized women are beautiful.

Everybody has a choice as to what they do with their bodies. Shaving isn’t wrong if it makes YOU comfortable. Thats good for you. However, no women should shave just to make others comfortable.

Kylie // Posted 13 May 2009 at 1:57 am

Why is it that those who shave/wax are so often viewed as giving into societal pressures and mysogynistic attitudes.

I shave…. rather I wax and I like it. When I wasn’t dating anyone, I still waxed because I like my legs, arms and nether regions hair-free (or sometimes a small strip above depending on my mood). I like the way it looks, feels and I find it more hygienic. I exercise six times a week and it makes a difference. It also makes a difference during periods.

I do it to please myself. My current boyfriend who I’ve been with for several years never asked me to wax and said he was indifferent. But, he actually grew to like it. It does make intercourse more pleasurable. Skin is beautiful. Hair is beautiful too. I just don’t want tons of it on my body. I have hair down to my waist, I’ve got eyebrows, eyelashes and that’s enough for me.

I’m an individual and as such, can decide what I like or dislike. Everyone’s entitled to their opinions. If you want to go au naturelle then by all means do so.

Do you know what unnatural is? Not using deodorant. Most deodorants are chemicals. Well, I’m grateful for being “unnatural” otherwise I’d stink. I can only imagine how much people smell who run for one hour straight (that’s running and not jogging)…. actually I do know what it’s like. One guy at the gym was told to leave because his body odor permeated the gym.

I think it’s perverts who think adult women are trying to look pre-pubescent by waxing their vulvas. I am a woman. I look like a woman regardless of pubic hair. I’ve got an athletic figure and I’m a natural D and I’ve never been mistaken for a girl.

To each their own is the point isn’t it? Sure, we can state the obvious….. no one should wax for someone else or do anything motivated by pleasing others but if it pleases you then you should do it.

FYI, Beyonce does have stubble on her underarms in that picture. Here’s an HQ pic from the same event (Cadillac Records premiere in NYC)

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