Although I’m still anxiously waiting for Shaggy Stem-tember and Muffvembver to become things people do, I’ll settle for Armpits4August. Shaving is such a tedious activity and any excuse to make excessive hairiness seem altruistic instead of just lazy works for me.
Founded in 2012, Armpits4August is a new initiative meant to raise money and awareness for women suffering from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), a condition that supposedly affects about 10% of women and can cause weight gain and excessive body hair growth. It’s being called the female version of Movember, although I think public opinion would land on the side of Movember being a generally sexier endeavor. To support women struggling with this hairy side effect and to raise money for PCOS, a few women have started letting their armpits go au-naturel for the month of August.
Although only a few hundred women in the UK participate now, the movement’s co-founder Gina Fuller hopes it will take off even more in the future. She labels year-round hairy armpit wearers as “a certain type of woman,” and I would have to agree. As it stands, when I see a woman with a little tuft emerging from under her arm it floors me, and I assume she’s a hippie and/or a lesbian. But why? We as women are expected to do so much more than men to maintain a streamlined appearance and it’s not fair. Dudes with beards in hipster bands like Mumford and Sons and Band of Horses get tons of ass despite/because of their hobo appearance, why don’t we ladies get the love too?
This left me wondering how the concept of virtually hairless women started. Apparently prior to about 1915 women weren’t showing off their underarms or legs enough to shave, but when sleeveless dresses and leg-baring garments started making their entry women began to be targeted for hair removal. A 1915 Harpers Bazaar ad showed a woman with hairless armpits for the first time, and the idea of hair under the arms being unattractive gradually seeped in to the public consciousness, later becoming the same for legs. And as clothing has become more revealing, so has the amount of our womanhood that is “supposed to,” by society’s standards, be hairless like a child. These days, pretty much the only hair a woman is supposed to have is a full head of hair and nice eyebrows and lashes. Any other extra body hair has become synonymous with being unattractive or unkempt.
Maybe Armpits4August will start to address that stigma beyond helping those affected by PSOS, and will help challenge traditional notions of femininity. Although let’s face it, it doesn’t look probable. Ideas about hairlessness and femininity are so ingrained in our psyches. I consider myself pretty forward-thinking and girl-power pushing but even I cringe at hairy pits on a woman.
Props to the cause, though. So let’s raise a glass to a noble endeavor and wear those hairy pits proud!