Armpits for August - fuzzy logic
I have decided to give Armpits4August, a campaign to get women to gorw their armpit hair out for August to promote acceptence of our bodies as well as raise awareness and funds for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, a go and it has spurred me on to thinking about body hair and self image, and of course low self esteem and self hatred, all courtesy of beauty standards all of which are intertwined into a big shit sandwich. This is in the wake of a 'scandal' where a beautiful woman was chastised in the press for having a few wisps of underarm hair. Words and phrases such as 'cringeworthy' and 'it's just not acceptable' are being bandied about all becuase a woman didn't shave/wax/whatever and let her body do what the vast majority of adult women's bodies do; grow hair. Something that many of us are self concious about, something that is perfectly natural and healthy yet it is turned into a festival of disgust and shaming when we don't undergo the costly and annoying rituals of 'de-fuzzing'. Removing body hair should be a choice, not something women feel pressured to do for fear of ridicule, so for one month I am going to get fuzzy.
It has taken me years to not not hate my body, I wish I could say I loved it but I don’t. I’m still not brave or strong enough, or living in enough isolation to not let it get to me. The endless stream of images, words, opinion, looks, ‘fat day’ clothes and ‘thin day’ clothes. It’s not just weight it’s everything, the fact I still get spots despite being long out of my teens and of course the body hair thing. I have been self concious of it from an early age, having thick, dark hair and fair skin has meant it’s never been subtle. I used to dread PE, especially swimming, being an early developer and forced to wear unflattering lycra that doesn’t cover your legs or pits does not build much confidence. Attempting the ‘arms glued to your sides side’ technique didn’t quite wash during swimming lessons.
I was an awkward child, I never felt like I fitted in anywhere and developing signs of puberty before most of my peers just made me feel more awkward and hair was a big part of this. I didn’t like to wear sleeveless tops or shorts, I begged my Mum to be able to shave but she said I was too young yet some of the other girls at school were already showing off their silky smooth legs shaved of the wispy thin blonde hairs that didn’t really show up anyway, and I was there with what looked like little ‘knee beards’; the hairiest bit of my legs below my knees that stood out the most. I resorted to trimming them with bathroom scissors. As the years went on I started shaving, then waxing then buying one of those epilator things and I have never yet achieved the smooth leg thing, even when waxing I still have a ‘stubbly’ feel and my hair grows in much faster than the ‘up to six weeks of smoothness!’ trumpeted on the packet, two if I’m lucky. I get ingrown hairs too, little red bumpy bits that don’t exactly scream ‘sexy’ so why do I bother?
I know this is all bollocks by the evil patriarchy to make me hate myself and buy more hair removal crap, I know I should just sod it and embrace my inner Cousin It, but most of the time I am not brave enough. Especially not with facial hair, yup I said it. I am a woman and I get hair on my face, a wee Frida esque moustache and straggly eyebrows, I fear without my routine of waxing and trimming and plucking I would resemble Groucho Marx.
To quote Armpits for August “We believe the shame a lot of women feel about their body hair is a consequence of living in a society that regulates, controls and dictates that women’s bodies must conform to incredibly narrow beauty standards. This creates a physically, socially, and mentally damaging image of what is ‘natural’ – an image that turns out to be no more than an idea.”
I can honestly say that I have been mentally damaged by these standards, amongst the billion and one other things I’ve been mentally damaged by, it might be a small thing but when your self esteem and self worth is so low like it is with depression, a tiny thing like being made to feel disgusting and ugly for your body just being a normal, human body is just another layer of shit you don’t need. I’ve learnt to be more accepting of my body in the last few years so perhaps I need to embrace my hairiness, one small pit at a time.
So yes Armpits for August, a campaign to make us feel more comfortable in our hairy skin that also raises money for Verity, the charity for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) . I will challenge myself to go one month with hairy pits, so donate if you wish.
Edited from the original post on my blog: ahotbath.co.uk