A few months ago, I stopped shaving under my arms. It started innocently enough. One day, it got too cold for a t-shirt, and I forgot to shave. And then I just kept forgetting.
Now before you judge me to harshly, I’d like to remind you that THIS is where I live:
After a few weeks of growing out my underarms, I sheepishly showed my husband. He smiled, shrugged, and moved on.
It was around this time that I read an article on shaving, the decision not to, and the historical relevance of shaving. Turns out, shaving our legs and underarms is a pretty recent phenomenon. As in, a razor company wanted to sell more razors – so they told women that hair was unsanitary and a billion dollar industry was born.
Well shit. I hate the idea that I engage in a personal grooming ritual that I hate only because some corporation decided that I should be ashamed of what grows on my own damn body.
Thus began the growing out process in earnest. Legs, underarms, all of it. After a few weeks, I didn’t care for the feel or appearance of hairy legs, so I shaved.
But the underarms. Oh, those glorious lady bushes that lay invitingly against my pale ass skin. Those rich, dark, furry pelts that make me feel like an Eagon Scheal painting? Those were here to stay.
Then came the over sharing. I became so amused with the faces and reactions from family and friends, that I would tell them about my furry underarms just to watch their reactions. It ranged from mild disgust amongst my co-workers, to loving offers of laser treatment from my sister in law.
What I found most fascinating was how shocked people seemed to be about the whole idea. “But why would you do that?” “What does your husband think?” “Doesn’t it smell?” (Because I can, he doesn’t care, and no).
I got all the affirmation I needed though, when one (conventionally feminine) coworker insisted she needed to see the underarms in action. Without hesitation, I whipped up my shirt and flashed my beautiful bunnies. “Wow,” she said. “It’s….intentional. Like, a lot of hair. I’m impressed.”
It was all the confirmation I needed. I started prancing around in my skivvies (at home, of course), just to admire my glossy, black underarms.
Then came the moment of truth. I was in Nordstrom, and I wanted to try on a cardigan, but was too lazy to go the the dressing room. As I slipped off my sweater, I realized that I was only wearing a cap sleeve tee. My eyes darted around the department. Several young, pretty sales girl with long hair (on their heads) were standing about 20 feet away. What if they caught a glimpse of my lady-bushes? Would they be disgusted? Talk about me on their lunch break? I slunk into the cardigan without lifting my arms. I slid it off again, keeping my arms near my sides.
Two days later, I shaved.
As I emerged from the shower, planning to admire my new socially acceptable underarms, I turned toward the mirror and lifted an arm. My poor little underarm was naked, pink, and wrinkly. I felt like I’d lost a secret super power. I also felt a bit like a shaved cat. My husband strolled by, “Oh, you shaved.” He sounded disappointed. “Yeah. I wasn’t sure. Should I have kept it? Should I wear it in the summer?” “Well, maybe not all year. But I kind of thought it was a limited time special offer” he said with a little twinkle in his eye.
And I grew those bad boys right back in.