I went down a rabbit hole in my shower last week after having the realization that I've never seen my own armpits with their natural hair. It's not that uncommon, especially as someone who identifies as a female in a society that expects women to shave their body hair, but it kind of blew my mind.
This is my body, after all. How—in almost 38 years—have I not seen it with fully-grown armpit hair at least once?
And more importantly, why has it never happened?
My brain got LOUD. It quickly filled with judgements, stories, and excuses.
- It's not attractive, sexy, or feminine
- It's gross
- It's poor hygiene
- It's embarrassing
- That's not your style
- It only looks good on other women
- I like shaving
- It feels good to have smooth skin
- My husband likes it better
- Society likes it better
- I'm supposed to...
Whenever my brain floods with that much noise, I know it's a sign to slow down.
The immediate knowing that came to me was to stop shaving my pits and work through the shit that comes up in real time.
Of course, allowing my armpit hair to grow wasn't going to be hard—or even the point of this entire process. The opportunity was going to be found in the moments that I could observe and challenge what my inner critic and old programming had to say about about it.
My body was buzzing. This felt really important. Not only as a part of my own self-exploration and empowerment, but to that of this community's self-exploration and empowerment too.
I took to Instagram and shared what had come up for me in the shower and my DMs were flooded with feedback.
68% of you have never allowed your armpit hair to grow naturally
50% of you are interested in doing this with me
And with that, we started a mini-movement. One that's focused on body hair and has absolutely nothing to do with body hair all at the same time!
- Stop shaving your armpits.
You may continue shaving any other part of your body as you typically do. The idea here is "low stakes" effort. Tossing your razor entirely could be unrealistic, so this is our minimum effective dose to activate the inner critic and old programming.
How long you do this is up to you.
This is NOT a 30-day challenge or a vow to never shave again.
This IS a “body story” reset and opportunity to connect to your OWN truths.
You'll know you're complete when your mind is quiet and neutral when it comes to body hair and your outward appearance. Then you can shave your pits or keep them natural!
It doesn't matter.
This isn't actually about body hair, remember?
Read through this list of journaling prompts and explore only those which speak to you. Revisit this list as you go. Something that doesn't speak to you now may become meaningful later. (I will update this list as I embark on my own journey too!)
- What's your body hair story? Reflect on your first experiences shaving, why you wanted to shave, and what you were taught/told about shaving as a child.
- Reflect on an experience when you felt (gave or received) shame, embarrassment, or judgement regarding body hair.
- Tap into your judgements without fear. What do you think about other women who don't shave their body hair? What do you think about men who shave their body hair?
- What does body hair have to do with gender? With sexuality? With your sexual expression?
- How often do you see body hair positively shown on women? In real life, in movies or on TV, on social media.
- Tap into your senses. How do you feel when your body is smooth and freshly shaved? How do you feel when your body is hairy or have stubble?
- When did the "smooth = good/better/sexy" ideology enter your mind and was it you who put it there? (Hint: If you were told "hairy = good/better/sexy" your entire life you would experience the sensation of hair as a good/better/sexy.)
- What do you think about your romantic partner(s) body hair or lack there of?
*Recommended: Replace "body hair" with any other feature of the human body and read these questions again. Example: "What's your acne story?" or "What do you think about other women who are in fat bodies?" or "How often do you see stretch marks positively shown on women?" or "When did the "light skin = good/better/sexy" ideology enter your mind and was it you who put it there?" Go deeper.
My Pit Project Update
It's Friday, March 12. It's been 41 days since I started this self-exploration journey and today I had a deep knowing wash over me that it is time to complete this project. My armpits have fully grown in with armpit hair. It's really cool to see myself in my most natural form. I will admit—it was a lot more challenging that I had originally anticipated.
A month into my journey I was about to get in the shower and I caught a glimpse of my pit hair in the mirror. I was horrified. I'm pretty sure I said "EWW" out loud. I was afraid to look at myself in the mirror. It reminded me of a younger version of myself who was afraid to look at my body in the mirror. I used to feel "too fat" or "too curvy" to be lovable. It was heartbreaking to feel this way once again in the mirror. I took my shower and when I got out, I took extra time putting on lotion. I looked at myself in the mirror and touched my armpit hair. I played music and danced naked in my bathroom while soaking up what womanhood actually looks like. What I look like. I made it a point to look at my armpits daily from there on out.
Each day I started to feel more and more "normal" with hair in my armpits—and yet I was still afraid to let my husband see them. I am blessed to have a husband who is still as wildly attracted to me as the day we met. I am literally the definition of beautiful, sexy, attractive, WOMAN to him. What would he think of my armpit hair? I found myself hiding it from him. I even let him know I was afraid to let him see it while I wasn't letting him see it.
As time went on, I realized I wasn't afraid of his opinion of me. I was afraid of the feelings I was projecting on him. If "he" didn't find me attractive, I would no longer be attractive.
The truth is—I am whatever I define myself to me.
Whether that's a version of me with armpit hair, body fat, a breakout, stretch marks or tears in my eyes. All versions of me ARE ME. And that is unconditionally beautiful.
So, into the shower I go to shave away this hair (because it feels right), but the lessons will remain. This project took me way outside of my comfort zone, and on the other side of that comfort I met a new piece of myself. And she's here to stay.