Enemies of the hair beware

So it’s been a while since I shared anything on my blog because I really wanted to share this but wasn’t sure how. I thought, since Janu’hairy’ has passed and I was tagged in articles about it multiple times, that I would share the article I wrote about the issue for university last year now. So here goes…

Our task was to write a feature for a newspaper or magazine including creating the content, sourcing photos and designing the page in your target publications style. You can see the complete feature here (I apologise for any mistakes I finished it at 2 am the day it was due and haven’t looked at it since), but the story can be seen below.

Enemies of the hair beware


Sitting in a crowded bar with cocktails on a Saturday night with two of your best friends, sounds fun right? Or it would have been if I hadn’t been worried about what others might say when I lifted my arms. The Venus ads told me I could only feel confident and comfortable if I was as hairless as a baby. But I knew the idea of removing all my body hair would make me feel like a baby – not really the look I was going for. I have never removed the hair from my genitals and I got fed up with removing it from my legs – its not like anyone examines them! My armpits however are a whole different issue.

On starting to research body hair I was anxious to find out what others thought of the issue, so I set up a survey and sent it around family, friends and acquaintances alike. When asked whether people should be able to do what they wish with their body hair the dominant answer was yes of course, it’s their body. This didn’t stop many respondents being wracked with societal pressure and continuing their hairless regimes. It made me sit back and think, was choosing #to do something different with your body hair as a woman or a man a sign of rebellion? Bravery? Confidence? And why the hell did carrying out such an action have these connotations? So I put a brave face on and tossed the razor.

To take full advantage of my pit fuzz, I had to think carefully about what to wear. This was tougher than I anticipated, I was used to covering myself up, ashamed of something we all grow naturally. But why had I felt ashamed? I’d never had anyone point and call me out on my hairiness, and I like to think I’m not easily influenced by advertising. It then dawned on me that it was because all the women around me were doing it. It didn’t matter that it was never explicitly discussed, my eyes had seen clean shaven women at the beach, in the swimming pool, everywhere. When I spoke to Professor Rosalind Gill of City, University of London about the problem society seem to have with body hair she noted that media culture has caused an ‘increase in the surveillance of women’s bodies but’ she pointed out ‘its not just them we do it to ourselves.’ And that is what I had been doing ever since my armpit hair had become noticeable. I was self-policing based on those around me who were doing the same. It’s a never-ending cycle that many are too afraid to break.

Cropped pit kitten
Fur balls: The Pit Kittens are out to play

Emily Townsend is one woman who decided enough was enough after growing out her armpit hair for charity initiative Armpits for August and receiving huge amounts of backlash because of it. Now her ‘pit kittens’ see the light of day without a care in the world. After deciding to get a cat tattoo on her right armpit with her pit fluff providing the fur, the amateur hula-hooper had shave. The worst part about the tattoo? Not the pain but really missing the hair. It seemed odd to me at the time, but growing my own hair now, I can understand why. I mean I miss my head hair when it’s cut short and I’m sure I’d miss my eyebrows if I lost them – they make me who I am. I’m not quite there with my armpits quite yet.

Fighting stereotypes:
Noah Evans-Wicks isn’t
ashamed of his bare pits

A few days after deciding to let my pit fuzz grow, was my gym class. The gym is the place I feel most uncomfortable, I’m not exactly the athletic type and tend to sweat buckets. But I was committed to the cause, donned my sports vest and grabbed my Pilates mat. During the class, I found myself looking at other’s armpits, something I would never do normally. I began wondering what about men? Is there a pressure to conform for them too? I spoke to competitive Taekwondo player Noah Evans-Wicks about what he gets in response to his body hair removal. ‘I get heckled about it even though I am feminine person, if you’re trying to keep up as masculine image, you’d be under a lot more pressure to stay hairy.’

So, while we may consider ourselves to be an open-minded society, there are still taboo issues such as body hair that our social conditioning prevents us from questioning. After two weeks of letting my pits out I decided I didn’t care what other people thought and had no any comments on my pit fluff. The final test was a busy bar on a Saturday night with a cocktail in hand, and there was nothing quite so reassuring as my close friends turning up, putting their arms up and revealing their unshaven under arms. That’s what I call friendship.

One thought on “Enemies of the hair beware

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  1. I love that I am far less fussy about if I shave or not now. I do it because I like the feeling, but if I cba for weeks, I don’t care. I don’t even think about what top I wear to work.


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