Rachel McAdams has armpit hair, and she’s not afraid to show it off. The 44-year-old appeared in a recent issue of Bustle where she requested that her photos be minimally edited and her armpit hair be kept in.
“I've had two children. This is my body, and I think that's so important to reflect back out to the world,” she told the publication. “It's OK to look your best and work at it and be healthy, but that's different for everyone.”
McAdams joins a legion of female celebrities who are embracing or have embraced armpit hair such as Julia Roberts, Miley Cyrus, Faith Hill, Anna Faris, Ashley Graham and Madonna’s daughter Lourdes Leon.
Most Brits still think armpit hair on women is 'unattractive'
Despite more women embracing their natural body hair – the hashtag #bodyhairisnatural has over 203 million views on TikTok – the majority of us consider female armpit hair ‘unattractive’.
According to a 2021 survey by YouGov, 59% of Brits considered armpit hair unattractive, while a third (34%) were indifferent. Over half 54% of women thought that women should get rid of their armpit hair.
The group least likely to say that women should get rid of their armpit hair were young men and women aged 16 to 24, with just 39% of men in this age group and 26% of women saying that women should have no armpit hair.
Women over the age of 60 were the group most likely to advocate for hair-free female armpits as 64% said women should shave.
The benefits of armpit hair
We asked Dr Deborah Lee from Dr Fox Online Pharmacy to outline why it could be beneficial to stop shaving.
Hair in the armpits prevents friction from two skin surfaces rubbing together, so reduces chafing and irritation
Armpit hair helps your body control body temperature – when it’s cold your armpit hair traps heat to keep you warm
When you don't shave, you get fewer skin problems in the armpit area such as less ingrown hairs, skin tags and spots/pustules
Longer armpit hair means more space to harbour pheromones. These smells are attractive to the human race and can help you find a mate
Body hair has several important functions
Regulating body temperature
Forms part of the touch sensation
Helps shape your identity
How body hair attitudes differ around the world
While shaving armpit hair has been the norm in the UK for the better part of the last century, ever since Gillette sold its first female razor in 1915, other countries have varying attitudes towards female body hair.
Women shaving their armpit hair only became the norm in China at the turn of the century as they began to follow Western beauty standards. Women in the US in the 1960s and 70s largely shunned shaving their body hair as a feminist statement.
Removing body hair has been a common practice in Egypt for around 5,000 years using a process called sugaring, while both men and women in Turkey are required to remove their underarm hair under the guidelines of Islamic culture.