I was initially worried that my newly-grown underarm hair would be met with questions or judgments, or that I’d overhear disgusted whispers.
This has not been my experience, for two reasons:.
1. We manifest what we believe. If I am worried and looking for critical eyes, then I will find them. If I accept others, they will accept me too.
2. People have better things to think or worry about. They are not that concerned about my pit hair.
That being said, I know that anything outside of “normal” usually elicits a need in us to classify and label another person’s experience in our attempt to understand it.
She’s soul searching.
Apparently, there’s a whole movement of armpit-hair-growing beauties out there. Truth be told, I really don’t know anything about it. But, I’m glad for them.
My journey was an isolated one. I wasn’t brave enough to ditch the razor while still in the States. Cultural norms were too strong. It wasn’t until I started my nomad life last year in South America that I took the plunge. I’d always thought pit hair was awesome-looking, but I didn’t see how I could get away with it in my career.
Here’s how it happened:
My boyfriend blew my mind when he showed me a Playboy centerfold from the 80s. The gorgeous Madonna was rockin’ not only a wonderfully thick bush, but also some very intrepid pit hair.
But it wasn’t intrepid.
It wasn’t counter-cultural, rebellious, defiant, or even bohemian.
It was just normal. It was just natural. And beautiful. Beautiful body hair. Nothing manly or gross about it. And, the sheer fact that it was in Playboy meant that it was even sexually appealing.
She was sexy because she owned it. She was beautiful because she wasn’t ashamed. In that moment, I knew I could free my own natural body hair with confidence.
Beauty standards have changed a lot in the past 30 years. Sometimes I think they only change so someone else’s pocketbook continues to be stuffed by our culturally conditioned insecurities and bizarre bodily pursuits.
It’s important to question why something is important to you. Does it really matter? Or, have you just never questioned it or considered anything different?
I don’t think women should grow out their pit hair as a form of feminist rebellion. I don’t. I don’t even think the world would be a better place if we would all just stop shaving under our arms. I don’t think we’d stick it to the man or give the finger to consumerism by boycotting razors.
Don’t burn your blades. Don’t stop waxing. Don’t do anything that you don’t want to do.
I think what’s important is to change the conversations we have about beauty. I think it’s important to examine our beliefs and our expectations about beauty.
When you know exactly what we value and why, we need to pursue that. When we sincerely know ourselves, it leaves no room to judge others. It’s a beautiful thing—even more beautiful than my wild pit hair.
P.S. I shave my legs. This surprises people. My sister asked with a raised eyebrow, “Wait, you don’t shave your pits, but you do shave your legs? How does that work?”
Just because I grow my armpit hair doesn’t mean I’m in love with all my body hair. I just genuinely love my pit hair. I love not shaving and dealing with angry, red bumps. More importantly, I like how it looks and makes me feel like myself.
My leg hair—not so much. I tried it. I gave it a solid six months, but all it did was stick straight out in patchy, kinky curls that reminded me of a pre-pubescent boy’s first attempt at a beard. I felt weird in my body with leg hair.
I love my legs shaved. End of story.
I feel wild, free and natural with pit hair. I prefer that feeling. Some women prefer to wax all the hairs, everywhere, away. That’s okay. And you’re okay if you know why you do what you do regardless of societal pressure.
One day, I might want a change and I might shave my armpits. So what? I wasn’t making a statement to begin with.
Well, yes I was. But, it’s only this:
Be comfortable and happy in your skin and your body. Wake up every day and choose to be you—you beautiful thing you.
Author: Whitney “Aša” Ricciardi
Editor: Nicole Cameron