In defence of underarm hair

Alice Sholl
Contributor
If everyone did it, we wouldn’t bat an eyelid [Photo: lolakirke/Instagram]

It was just a few months ago that Lola Kirke made an appearance at the Golden Globes sporting something we don’t often see on the red carpet.

Or anywhere, for that matter.

With a Andrew Gn gown fit for a princess and her wavy brunette locks worn down, she’d also grown out her underarm hair – and the feminist statement soon made headlines.


She’s far from the only female celebrity to have done so, with Drew Barrymore and Julia Roberts included but also her sister and Girls star Jemima Kirke on a number of occasions.

Every time they do, it provokes the same amount of shock and media coverage – whether that be positive or negative – bringing their argument back to the fore; what exactly is our problem with women and armpit hair?

In living memory  it’s always been one on the long list of things women are meant to do to appear socially acceptable including having long, well-groomed hair, flawless skin and smooth legs.


But even more so than unshaven legs, nothing seems to provoke more disgust than a tuft of fluff under a woman’s arm – flaunting even the tiniest bit of it on social media soon brings trolls out of the woodwork.

Funny thing is that by ‘living memory’, I only mean 1915. According to a video by Timeline, being hair-free under your arms is a mere beauty trend that like any other came back along with the popularity of certain revealing dresses in the era.

In other words, a little bit of marketing just over one hundred years ago has meant we still see shaven armpits on women as natural as we see unshaven ones on men today.


Which leaves all the hassle (as usual) to women.

When we’re teenagers, we learn to incorporate shaving our armpits into our long grooming routine along with shaving our legs.

But unlike legs – though there’s a point to be made about that as well – shaving our underarms requires constant upkeep all year round and is particularly harsh on that sensitive bit of skin.

Instead of slightly furry armpits, we end up with irritated skin and a rash instead – but keep having to shave it for fear of a millimetre of stubble becoming visible.


We could just accept it and see it as an inevitable part of life; after all, men have to do a degree of it as well.

But the problem with women’s armpit hair is this need to pretend it doesn’t exist at all and, unlike with men’s facial stubble, this disgust at the slightest appearance of it.

If we simply saw more of it, whether that’s on the Kirke sisters or on our own street corners, it wouldn’t surprise any of us any more.

Because when you think about it it’s… really quite normal.


So when you’re shocked by the appearance of armpit hair on a woman, be it a friend or celebrity, check yourself for a moment and remind yourself it’s no big deal. And similarly, if someone with you is shocked, remind them of that too.

If we all adopt this attitude, none of us need stress about skipping shaving now and then, or stopping doing it altogether.

And if you fancy yourself a bit of a trailblazer, skip that daily razor burn yourself and watch the world keep turning – it’s just a bit of hair, after all.

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