Armpit Hair Like U Just Don’t Care

by Alexandra Molotkow


Today, Hairpin pal Isabel Slone published a piece on armpit hair, 2015’s hottest fashion accessory! Miley is doing it and Madonna is doing it and oh oh oh, Sanam, from BBHMM, yes, yes.

FASHION magazine editor Randi Bergman wrote recently on how this “trend” aligns with her longstanding grooming habits: “Shaving my armpits has become reserved for those particularly lazy days during which bathing is the main event. And if a couple weekends pass without one? Them pits are getting dark. Flaunting my armpits never felt particularly punk until I saw Miley Cyrus doing the same on Instagram earlier this week.”

Isabel sums it up thusly:

We don’t need to applaud women for going au naturel — what we need is to change the social norms where women can feel comfortable doing whatever they please. Ultimately, the decision to shave or not should be a minor one: more akin to what breakfast cereal you want, rather than whether or not to detonate the neutron bomb.

For armpit hair to be functionally feminist, and not just a feminist statement, it has to be NBD.

I grew out my pits in high school. At the time I was part of a Radical Cheerleading troupe (oh yes I was) and one of our cheers went, if memory serves:

Throw your hands in the air
 Let me see that armpit hair!
 We don’t shave or use that Nair
 Sleek or chic, we do not care
 We’re hairy! Got hairy legs
 We’re hairy! Got hairy pits
 We’re hairy! Got hairy cunts
 And we pick our noses too.

I was officially “unapologetic” about my pits, but inside, I was sort of sorry. The hair was very much a statement, but it’s a statement you can’t stop making. You make a statement when you give a high five. You make a statement when you know the answer. The point was to not care, but it was 2002, and I was a virgin with hairy armpits. Of course I cared. Male approval wasn’t nothing, either. My first boyfriend was crazy about my hair; a few years later, a guy I dated encouraged me to grow them to “an eighth of an inch,” but hairy pits felt like de facto monogamy.

The problem with the Radical Cheerleader view of armpit hair is that we’re all in society and it’s really hard to flaunt something society doesn’t like. It can be exhausting; it uses effort better reserved for, I dunno, many things that are way more important. The other problem is that it’s just not sexy. We pick our noses too? Come on. Maybe armpit hair is more meaningful as an aesthetic than an act of defiance.

Not just an aesthetic, either. As Monica Heisey wrote here, the hottest thing about the Fifty Shades of Grey movie, with its stilted, campy repartee and politely attractive leads, is Anastasia’s bush, plus her downy thighs. The hair connotes her innocence, obviously — no man has gotten close enough for it to matter — but it’s also just grimy. I mean, actual sex is disgusting! You have to work up to a state where all that peatiness becomes amazing. Armpit hair — even more than, say, a choker — is an intrusion of nasty actual sex into polite suggestions thereof, and that’s hot as fuck.

Also because Anastasia’s pubes were a choice. You can do anything to your body, anything lovely, anything hideous, anything neither lovely nor hideous, as long as it makes sense. Pit hair works for Gaby Hoffmann, it works for Miley Cyrus, it works for Sanam, the way an absence of pit hair works for Rihanna. It works in the context of your overall thing. (Obviously, floor-length pit hair would also work for Rihanna.)

You just have to make a decision. Is your bush full and rich or does it feel like a sponge jammed in your pants? Does your upper lip hair work with your eyebrows? Lately I’ve been letting my armpit hair grow because I like it. It feels good to me and it smells good to me and when others like it, I like them better. My hair is not the gossamer puffball kind, but I’ve been grooming a bit — I get rid of the excess above and below, and trim before it resembles stalactites. I’m happy.

Last year, Jon-Jon Goulian wrote a piece for Vice in praise of hairy women. He’d sent his friend on a date with a total babe who happened to have a mustache. His friend was angry, and they argued. Jon-Jon accused his friend of holding women to unreasonable expectations, and his friend accused him of fetishizing body hair, which is its own unreasonable expectation. What if she just doesn’t want to?

Jon-Jon counters with — and I think this is the best possible rebuttal:

In their defense, and in mine, I submit that a woman’s body hair is neither disgusting nor sexually irrelevant. It is not something to be passed over casually on the way to more obvious sources of pleasure. It is, rather, a sexual organ in itself, to be sniffed and licked and rubbed, pulled and tugged and braided, brushed and chewed and tasted. A woman’s thick happy trail is only disgusting or irrelevant if you don’t understand how the excitement of anticipation, for both man and woman, is enhanced by the slow and gentle struggle of the tip of the tongue as it makes its way down the shrubby path. Long hairs running around the circumference of a woman’s areolas are only disgusting or irrelevant if you don’t understand that the hairs are extensions, in a sense, of the nipple and areola itself, and that the feeling of the hairs in your mouth makes the nipple seem all the larger and riper and plumper. A tuft of hair on a woman’s lower back, just above the butt crack, is only disgusting or irrelevant if you’ve never fucked it.
And with hair, of course, comes sweat, and with sweat comes pungency, and pungent hair is suggestive of what? The vagina. A woman with a hairy body has essentially four vaginas — two armpits, the asshole, and the vagina itself. How could this be a problem for a man who calls himself a heterosexual, and who, suspiciously, claims I might be gay without really knowing it? Put yourself in my place, Kevin, in the following scenario: a phenomenally hairy woman is on top of you, fucking you vigorously. One of her armpits, dark and dense and moist, is pressed over your nose. One of your hands is buried in the other hairy armpit, massaging the wet sweaty hair in your fingers, while your other hand is fingering her asshole and occasionally bringing the tip of your middle finger to your nose to take a good deep whiff. It is at this point that your mind wrenches free from your body, no? You are no longer present on this planet. You are floating in an ether of pure vaginal splendor. A warm vaporous bath of sweat and hair and funk and pungency. I don’t know how else to put it. I can’t make a better case. If I haven’t convinced you, you’re hopeless.

What else is there to say?

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