Body Hair: Get Over It

KATHERINE SOPER doesn’t shave, and thinks you shouldn’t have to either.

Fun Fact: hair removal as we know it only started in 1915.

Gillette, having invented a razor for men, wanted to expand their market – and, seizing on the fact that women’s sleeves were becoming shorter, they launched a fervent campaign denouncing the (previously inoffensive) female underarm hair as “unsightly”, “masculine” and “unclean”.

asd

Female underarm hair is “unclean”

Adverts for razors to remove leg hair followed suit in the 1920s – but before Gillette, this market hadn’t even existed. Women had got along just fine, and displayed no innate desire for a smooth, silky leg.

Flash forward to 2013, and lots of my female friends tell me how shaving is just a personal preference, their choice, and surely that’s what women’s rights are all about, etc etc. They’re not wrong. However, I don’t think it’s possible today to grow up with a completely objective view of our body hair that isn’t influenced by both the socialised desire for smoothness and the negative connotations we attach to women who don’t shave. The first person I talked to when I considered growing my hair out said, “Can we please stop talking about this? It’s making me feel sick.

So while it’s true that lots of men shave, the crucial difference is that they can also choose to sport hair without provoking this sort of visceral disgust. There’s the illusion of choice for women, but with social conditioning and expectations rigging the scales (not to mention the fact that hairy often functions as vague shorthand for a man-hating straw-feminist) it’s a ‘choice’ akin to ‘Cake or Death?’.

Pits of despair?

At 16, as a longtime shaver, I felt like my mindset had been so screwed over from such a young age that I could only cleanse my palate by growing my hair out properly: legs, underarms, and all. This wasn’t easy, since I had to work through my own self-disgust whilst hearing my mum’s voice in my head, sighing that I’m “making everything into a statement”.

Trouble is, the only way hair will stop being a statement is once it’s normalised. If it’s ever going to be a genuine choice between equal options, women with hair need to be a familiar sight, not the punchline to hilarious Chewbacca quips. This would, importantly, help debunk the assumptions that hair is a sign of ignorance, laziness, uncleanliness (seriously – that myth really needs to die), or a lack of personal pride.

It’s important to razor-wareness

Body hair is, in fact, the very mark of personal pride. Waxing and shaving may take a lot of time and money, but rocking the hair takes an even larger amount of self-assurance and self-confidence. I don’t pretend to be perfect in this respect; taking the hair out in public is something I still have to work on occasionally, even after five years. Formal events like May Balls are particularly difficult; the emphasis on unnatural hyper-grooming and on a conventional dress code means I’ve nixed the hair for the past two May Weeks.

But on the very encouraging flipside: in January I dyed my underarm hair bright red, and to my surprise, I had a grand total of one slightly perturbed comment. People’s reactions were more gleeful and delighted than anything else. This sort of experience suggests that the concept of a woman with hair is much more terrifying than the very normal, unthreatening reality.

Similarly, although some girls worry that hair will make them feel ‘like a man’, it becomes clear once you live with it for a while that hair isn’t masculine. It’s simply human, and it’s animalistic and primal and wonderful.

Rocking (p)it

I’m not saying you can’t be a feminist if you shave – but going au naturel is a learning experience worth having, and one any woman should consider trying. It teaches you about the complex relationship we have with our own bodies, with other people’s views of our bodies, and with what we show in public. It makes you look at what really influences the choice to shave.

So I dare you to grow it out, at least for a while. See what it’s like. Acclimatise a bit – it probably won’t be love at first sight, due to habit and a lifetime of socialisation. But if you can come to acknowledge the hair – even rock it in public – without disgust or embarrassment, the rush is incredible. Do not fear the hair. The hair won’t hurt you. You may even grow (ha) to love it.

  • ### Someone…

    isn’t definitely not going to get any anymore!

    • That was a beautiful

      Use of the double negative.

    • Gam Suthrie

      This article has awakened me. I see now how the drive to shave is a disciplinary tool resulting from, or rather, a creation of, a discourse of “femininity” created, accidentally or not, by men to sustain patriarchal hegemony over female sexuality.
      With my new and beautiful worldview, I’ll get back to thoughtfully analysing Big Hairy MILFs Vol. 5

    • Simon Johnson

      #DUN KNOW – man is growin out mans pubes in a solidarity effort for all ma gash making this #DENCH stand against prejudice and sexism! #Hollaaa all you ponnani who appreciates a sensitive brer! #equality #blukubluku

      • Birmingham LAD

        you related to Hadyn?

        • Cambridge LAD

          na he ma brudda fam #babykleemsgonebad #kings

  • But…

    I sweat a lot. So if I don’t shave my underarms, it smells awful, even if I wash multiple times a day.

    Sorry to burst your feminist bubble.

    • But

      that’s you, not all women. And it’s still a double standard, because otherwise all men would shave too.

      • Man

        Some do, for this reason.

        • Woman in the gym

          Some SHOULD, for this reason

          • Another Man

            I do and I think they SHOULD. Hairy underarms are disgusting, and a gym session will tell anyone that.

      • other man

        For this exact reason I trim my underarm hair. I don’t shave it completely however because that would be effeminate. No, that doesn’t make me sexist- a man can want to be masculine without seeing women as inferior. Men can be effeminate if they want to be but I don’t.

      • Typical bloody feminist

        Blames every difference between genders as an oppression on women. A lot of people consider (particuarly underam) shaving as a hygeine concept, so perhaps it’s actually the men who are ‘oppressed’ – perhaps they want to shave but feel they can’t because it’s not masculine. It’s the same with so much of these feminist ideas, you always make out that us women are worse off. E.g jobs in the workplace – feminists feel discriminated due to the nature of maternity leave but actually the way to solve the problem would be to increase paternity leave – is it not the men who are discriminated against here as they currently cannot spend as much time with their children? Gender equality is a two way street.

        • hygiene argument
          • Man-Who-Trims

            I forgot I had vaginas in my armpits, thanks for that; I definitely don’t want to be catching any STDs in my underarms.

        • Stop

          kidding yourself that hygiene is the main reason woman shave their armpits. The majority do it because society tells everyone that being hairy is manly. That’s the obvious bottom line. If your armpit hair makes your pits smell worse, then fair game, shave it. But that shouldn’t be the norm, which then makes every other girl feel like they should shave even when they would rather not have to.

          • You’re missing the point

            The hygeine issue is aside – like you say, society makes being hairy “manly” which is as much a gender stereotype problem for men as it is women. Remember the stick David Beckham got for shaving his pits? http://www.towleroad.com/2005/07/flash_beckham_s.html

        • Anon

          Any feminist worth her or his salt will still think this is part and parcel of the same thing: the patriarchy affects everyone, not just women.

          This is partly (but not wholly) why I am a (male) feminist.

          /inb4 thumbs down for use of the word ‘patriarchy’

          • I P Daily

            Big, manly, hairy bollocks to all this patriarchy nonsense. So long as idiots, such as “feminists” (i.e. those who ascribe to one particular form of thinking) remain obsessed with binary constructions to categorise people, then crap like this total non-story will continue. BTW, no one likes birds with hairy pits – very unlady like, you’ll never get a man if you let yourself go like that love, etc. etc.

    • TC

      When I DO shave my underarms, I smell much worse. Sorry to burst your hairless bubble.

    • Anti

      Perspirant could help

    • HairyArmpitFemale

      Anti-perspirent works a doddle. I have the same problem, I just randomly over-heat, was an issue even when I used to shave. The new Dove maximum protection moisturising one is amazing, it’s a bit over a fiver but I promise its amazing.

    • Aimée

      washing multiple times a day is probably what is causing the smell tbh. i’ve noticed when i use soap on my underarms they smell a lot more, and i sweat a lot more. it’s probably similar to the way using shampoo too often makes your hair get greasy quicker.

    • Anonymous

      I sweat a lot too. The hair in my pits wicks the sweat away from my skin so that it can evaporate faster (which is what’s supposed to happen). Therefore I feel less sweaty when I have hairy pits than when I’ve shaved, as long as I’ve let the hair grow out properly. How long have you tried going with hairy armpits for, and how long have you let the hair get? Perhaps you haven’t given it a real chance, or perhaps you just need to try a different deoderant.

    • weight-dropping man

      I sweat a lot too, but the first thing that starts smelling is my clothes. Changing clothes implies taking a shower, doesn’t it?

  • Hick Narris

    Stop writing articles when you’re supposed to be studying. That’s my thing.

  • Right on, sista
  • Stop being ugly

    and please go solve more important problems

  • Totally agree

    I just wish I had the guts that you have

  • ewwww

    grim

  • Wish I had the nerve to do this

    Fantastic! Congratulations, and I hope you manage to ignore all the idiots who are about to post comments

  • Ahaha

    It being exam term and all, the ‘growing out it challenge’ has inadvertently already begun…

    Jokes aside, I thought this was a decent and thought-provoking article.

  • Hairy Haiku

    Haiku Rabbi thinks:
    ‘I need feminism cos
    Hairy chicks are cool’

  • Beyonce
  • I feel bad

    but the bottom picture reminds me of Mr Tumnus

    http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m5ep5faqgT1qhw5w2o1_500.jpg

    • Overheard in Trinity

      HENRY!!!

  • Henry Tian

    Theres no greater pleasure in life than running your fingers through a nice thick bush #bushtuckertrial

    • Audible screams of

      HENRY!!

  • Rett Babram

    I would grow my body hair out, but I just love the feeling of having perfectly shaved and waxed legs. Plus I enjoy the attention they get from the boys #holla

    • The Real Rett Babram

      CORRECTION: I would grow out my body hair if I was capable of it

  • top article,

    really enjoyed this. even if i’m gunna carry on shaving.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sorry but the whole pre-1915 thing is a terrible argument. People back then didn’t bath/shower nearly as regularly as they do today – by your logic we should all stop doing that too. It’s quite ironic actually seeing a feminist using such clearly outdated, uber-conservative ideas.

    • Ermmm…

      The thing is, bathing regularly is good for your health. Shaving is purely cosmetic (if it were unhygienic then men should shave too). Your comparison is shite.

      • you.. are.. wrong..?

        so you’re saying everything boys do is more hygienic then girls? i shower more than most boys, i shave where boys dont, i also wash my hair more and probably wash my hands more than they do.. they may be more ‘natural’ but im definitely more hygienic and shaving is a part of that

        • are you

          an idiot? The argument is that if we needed to shave for hygiene purposes then men should shave their underarms/legs too. The fact that they don’t shows that this is not the primary reason that women do. Correct me if I’m wrong but that doesn’t seem to be ‘saying everything boys do is more hygienic than girls’

      • Anonymous

        Bathing is good for health yes, but that depends on how you describe ‘regularly’. You don’t need to shower anywhere near every day to get the health benefits – a large part of it is indeed cosmetic. Source: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/02/17/the_odd_body_daily_shower/

        Secondly, I can’t see how shaving is ‘purely cosmetic’ – unless you consider the possibility of lice to be perfectly healthy? The point is, both are six of one, half a dozen of the other – so the comparison is valid.

        • really?

          how many people honestly shave so that they don’t get lice?

    • Katherine Soper

      Yeah, that…wasn’t quite what I was implying. I’m obviously not suggesting everything was better in the 19th century. The reason I mentioned the Gillette campaign is that lots of people are surprised by how recent it is. They think the current desire and reasoning for women to shave is something inherent and centuries-old, because their preferences have been conditioned so strongly. Knowing how recent it is, and that it was motivated by marketing, does something to dispel that idea.

      • William Lane Craig

        ‘Knowing how recent it is, and that it was motivated by marketing, does something to dispel that idea.’

        Genetic fallacy. Please go.

        • fallaciphile

          It’s not fallacious to argue that an idea’s origins “does something to dispel that idea”. As Ms Soper explained in the very comment you’re reply to, it wasn’t intended to be a knock-down point.
          And the genetic fallacy isn’t even a proper fallacy.
          STOP THROWING AROUND THE WORD FALLACY.

          • Ahahahaha

            Phallus-y.

          • William Lane Craig

            No. The origin of a belief has absolutely no bearing on its truth or falsity. This is a basic truth of reason. Do your homework.

    • Aimée

      the point is to show that it is a modernised and relatively novel idea that women must shave, to look good, or to be more hygienic. you do realise that hair exists on these parts of our bodies for a reason right? it keeps bacteria off the skin, and especially pubic hair, keeps it away from your bits. it’s THERE for hygiene purposes. the idea that it is less clean is outdated propaganda, which is the point being made here.

  • Mr Truth

    You’re free to grow your hair out. Good for you. I don’t think it’s appealing, and neither do most people, and while you’re free to make whatever sort of statement you want about your oh-so-important relationship with your body hair, the rest of society and I are free to quietly find your little revolution against good taste thoroughly disgusting. Enjoy your loveless life.

    • Sarah

      What is appealing is often dictated by society, and what Ms Soper is saying here is that society isn’t always right and sometimes imposes ideals on women and men that are hard to live with. The fact that you find the appearance of body hair on a woman unsightly is testament to society’s affect on you. Body hair is as normal as it is natural while your opinion of what is considered to be “good taste” is an unnatural opinion has been imposed upon you since birth. To show real progressive thought would be to think for yourself and rise above what you’ve been told by the ad men peddling wax and razors. If not, I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful love life with someone as unenlightened as you.

      • Normal and natural

        I agree that body hair is “as normal as it is natural”, but so are monobrows, ear wax, urine and feces.

        Hairy armpits and legs are just more borderline whether we like or hate them currently. Personally I do not like them, and whether this opinion is rational or has been applied to me from years of subtle advertising doesn’t really change much. If you don’t make the effort I likely won’t be finding you so attractive but that is just the same as if you didn’t try to style your hair or put on a friendly, fun personality.

        • Sarah

          So I would be perfectly in my rights then if you were a man, and I rejected you because I found your underarm hair unattractive? What effort are you actually talking about here?

          Can you really equate having a fun and friendly personality as being the same as taking the time and money to shave your legs? And as much as human defecation being as normal as sprouting body hair and breathing, leaving hair on your legs unattended for a long period of time won’t have the same adverse effect as forgetting to wipe your arse for three weeks, so I don’t know if those are truly equal considerations in the grooming department. None of this really makes your argument credible.

          • Of course

            You are within your rights to reject a man for their underarm hair if you so wish. No one is forcing you to do anything.

            • Cecil Foukes-You

              Sarah’s only cheesed off because she can’t get beyond her penis envy. There there love, ’twill be alright, just calm down, shave those pits and you’ll get a nice young man. Don’t believe all women who claim to have a partner (well, a male one anyway) – they’re all fantasists.

    • Aimée

      Lol. people like you cause revulsion and disgust in me at how horribly judgmental and superficial humanity really is. someone writes something wholly positive and healthy in terms of self image and you make a comment like this. did it ever occur to you that some of us might not actually care what is perceived as aesthetically appealing to others? that we might, shockingly, do things regardless of whether or not others might find it attractive? and lol more at loveless. i stopped shaving EVERYWHERE years ago and never had trouble finding a partner and never had anyone be turned off. you’re so narrowminded in your gross little bubble. i think i’ve really read enough of the comments now lol.

    • Molly

      “Enjoy your loveless life”.

      Oh shit. I got engaged with my wonderful fiancé and I don’t shave anywhere. This must have been a good dream, really, no one would like to marry a woman, however wonderful she may be, if she does not remove her body hair.

      Thank you for waking me up and showing me my wonderful fiancé does not exist or does not love me :D

  • Thanks for this…

    think i’m now scarred for life!

  • Reasoned

    Body hair is just the latest target of evolving human tastes. Just like it’s no longer acceptable to smell of body odour, there is a clear trend for favouring grooming for sanitation and appearance. This trend is almost certainly not going to mean hairier women, if anything it’s going to mean less hairy men.

    So why pick on body hair when you’re already a slave to so many other societal pressures? I have no problems with you choosing to do so, but turning this into a feminist issue just distracts and alienates people from focusing on the real problems that women face – mostly a lack of opportunities and responsibilities in the workplace.

    • exactly

      If I didn’t trim my own manbush (as well as least reducing my rather overly copious armpit hair) no vag would be had. all for feminists pointing out double standards, but this is a bit of a poor one

    • This

      is very true. Katherine, societal trends have been for a few centuries now for women to wear dresses – you don’t seem to have a problem with that one. Is it ‘because you like dresses’? Because if so, this article is pretty well refuted.

      • Katherine Soper

        Well, since this one is directed at me…I don’t have a problem with wearing dresses, but that’s primarily because I’m equally free to choose to wear trousers. (In fact, the normalisation of women’s trousers initially provoked horror and disgust of the type also directed at women who don’t shave. Would be nice if this movement could follow the same trajectory.) In fact, I have more of a problem that men aren’t as free to wear dresses, because gender fluidity is amazing, but that’s a discussion for another time.

        • demolition man

          The issue is not a current absence of freedom, but the absence of any good reason to exercise a freedom.

          You point out that our disgust at girls with hairy armpits is socialised, but who doesn’t already know that their desires are socialised? You mention the role of advertising in the formation of our preferences, but given advertising’s current prevalence, how could any of our desires ever escape its influence? You are addressing people whose freedom is ‘limited’ by the value they place on their admittedly socialised preferences, or on their understandable desire not to attract disgust from others: what reasons can you give them to go against their desires and attract ridicule?

          The reasons hinted at in the article are childish and contradictory. You suggest that girls should go unshaven because “If it’s ever going to be a genuine choice between equal options, women with hair need to be a familiar sight”, because it’s “the very mark of personal pride”, and because it “teaches you about the complex relationship we have with our own bodies, with other people’s views of our bodies, and with what we show in public. It makes you look at what really influences the choice to shave.”

          There are any number of things that people don’t want to do and which will earn them disgusted looks. Making it easier to do them in the future is of itself no reason to do them now, and nor is seeking whatever peculiar form of enlightenment it is that only comes on the receiving end of a sneer, something which you will not in any case be able to find if your first aim is achieved. Should we go without deodorant so that it is easier for others to do so in future, so that we can nurture our obnoxious pride, so that we are forced to think at great length about why we used to wear deodorant?

          You state an analogy with the freedom of men to wear dresses: ought men to wear dresses even if they don’t want to? Is the sentiment behind this article the desire to subvert all gender norms, because “gender fluidity is amazing” and we would be better off in a society where terms like ‘man’ and ‘woman’ meant as little as blonde and brunette? I am grasping at straw feminisms here, but this would at least be an understandable argument for going unshaven, something otherwise missing from your article.

          • Let me walk you through this

            If you are unable to exercise a ‘freedom’ without adverse consequences, then your freedom to exercise that is constrained by your desire not to suffer those adverse consequences. Is this really a difficult concept to understand? The freedom being addressed in the article is one to grow your natural body hair without social disapproval. Of course that is constrained. That really ought to be simple enough.

            Your rebuttal is … what – she points out disgust at female body hair is socialised, and your response is ‘we know’? Well done on spectacularly missing the point: she is saying that it *shouldn’t* be. And why shouldn’t it be? Because it places a higher burden of personal maintenance on women than it does on men, so is intrinsically unfair.

            So: step one is questioning why we find it disgusting, and if the answer is just ‘advertising’, then the answer is ‘that’s not a very good reason’. Your response says ‘we know’, but is in fact ‘I just don’t care whether it’s unfair or not’. At this point in your argument you might as well have stopped reading, because your unwillingness to intellectually engage with this topic has already revealed itself. But like many angry young men on the internet you don’t really like women who point out sexism so you are motivated to write a long post about it. Good for you.
            You argue that it is ‘childish and contradictory’ to suggest that women frequently not shaving their armpits would demonstrate a genuine choice between equal options, because there are many things people don’t want to do because others wouldn’t like them doing it. But, again, you’ve missed the point. If a thing affects society at large, but is only found disgusting in the case of one particular group, that demonstrates not just some generic hygiene issue, like bad breath or body odour, which, note, affect other people (who are forced to smell it), but unequal social expectation. I think its worth noting the post by the anonymous fat man above, who argued that women are allowed to judge him on the basis of his weight – your weight issues are nothing compared to those of overweight women, who vastly disproportionately suffer from eating disorders and have their physical appearances criticised day in, day out by the media, even when they are politicians and judges.

            Body hair is but one example of the wider problem of double standards between men and women. Those people, such as yourself, who try to deflect this obvious point with these logically pathetic and evasive responses are engaging in wilful blindness.

            Your last argument is indeed attacking a straw feminist, so heavens knows why you even included it.

  • Anonymous

    I really don’t understand all these feminists trying to be more like men. Why don’t you just spare us your inequality nonsense and go for some sex reassignment therapy.

    • Logic

      you mean they’re not conforming to the pre-determined natural gender roles, by being natural…

    • Absolutely

      Top troll

  • Why don’t

    you shave your head and grow some balls while you’re at it?

  • personal opinion

    pit hair on a fitty is kinky; on a not-so-hot girl… no thanks

    • 7 thumbs up, 7 thumbs down

      looks like there’s an equal number of self-declared hotties and notties here

  • Thankfully

    the world still has enough sane people who care about their appearance for this not to catch on!

  • History Student

    Gillette didn’t invent female grooming. Look at all classical statues, at almost all religious painting before the Reformation, at neoclassicist sculpture which retains the hairless aesthetic of its ancient predecessor. Yes, the idea that hair is bad is a human construct, a preference for the unnatural. But the same can be said of almost every criterion for beauty applied to both men and women. Big muscles on male students who spend the vast majority of their time reading. Big boobs and narrow waists. Dyed or highlighted hair. All these preferences are unnatural or unreasonable constructs, but that doesn’t mean they’re the arbitrary creations of big corporations. I completely agree with you that while people can shave if they want to, the unbreakable requirement for shaved legs and armpits is an unfair extreme – skinny boys, or small-breasted girls, don’t cause the same revulsion. But your women’s campaign photo, saying hair “shouldn’t perturb anyone”, is nonsense: preferences are irrational, and more often than not settle on something unnatural and demanding. That’s why we settle on them in the first place – no one’s attracted to the completely average human specimen who refuses to make an effort to distinguish themselves.

    • whoop-PA

      schooled

    • Katherine Soper

      Thanks for the comment – I considered going into more detail about the history of the practice, but, well, word limit, and I thought it would be slightly irrelevant considering that the reason women shave now isn’t anything to do with previous practices but a direct inheritance of 1915. Not all preferences are the creations of corporations, but this one, in the way we experience it, is – and no one is going to voice their revulsion at a girl who doesn’t dye or highlight her hair. I suppose by ‘perturb’ I meant that sort of revulsion. People are free to have preferences – diff’rent strokes, diff’rent folks and all, but people should be aware of the fact that the extremity of this particular preference is entirely socialised rather than anything intrinsic.

    • historian

      tellin’ it from the Seeley like it is, history boss schoolin’ other undergrads

      • History of Art Student

        There is a lot written about classical art, however, and how the lack of female body hair was not a common practice among real women, but was removed in pictorial representations as hair was sign of power.

  • Fluffykittens94

    So you discredit shaving because it has only been around since 1915? Well… feminism started at the same time^^ And yes, maybe having hair under your arms is a valuable experience… but then any experience is valuable. Punching oneself in the face is also quite an experience… but I’m not sure I’d do it all too often :-)

    • wow

      this is stupid

    • History student

      No, feminism did not start around 1915.

      This isn’t actually the worst part of your comment, but I think the rest your logical fallacies are obvious to anyone with half a brain.

      • Fluffykittens94

        Unless you count philosophical accounts, feminism did indeed start around 1900 (see e.g. Offen, Karen, 1987. Les origines des mots ‘feminisme’ et ‘feministe. Revue d’histoire moderne et contemporaine, 34: 492-496).

        And the logical structure of my argument is absolutely sound, I just went for a comically strong (and btw ironic) contrast, which might be off-putting to some.

  • Jamie Scott, Slam Poet

    Thanks Katherine, I spit the truth, I found this quite enlightening,
    I always have, and to this day, found armpit hair quite frightening.
    Ideals of beauty have always been bare fucking arbitrary;
    Like when you on the streets of clapham, you best be stayin’ wary.
    If more girls grew their lady-fur in time it would be fine
    And then when it is normalised I can start growing mine.

    A note about the author: Jamie Scott, Slam Poet famously is as hairless as a naked mole rat.

    • Angry English Student

      Scansion…… nnggggg!

      • Jamie Scott, Slam Poet

        This is, admittedly, one of my weaker works.

  • Ms Edgy

    Monobrow and lady-moustache

  • Hang on

    This is a complete and utter copy of this: http://www.varsity.co.uk/comment/5947

    • Tim Squirrell

      Can confirm this was written and sent to me during the holidays i.e. late March, early April. Delayed publication, not a copy.

      • Colin Rothwell

        Glad you got my important, enlightening articles out first, Tim.

  • POI

    I agree with the point that the article is making, but it should be said that hair removal (both of pubes and armpits/other body hair on blokes) was practised in both Ancient Greece and Rome. Also the Sunnah of the Prophet in Islam advises all adult Muslims to remove all body hair – men and women both.

    Even if the current trend in hair-removal is fuelled by relatively recent ingrained attitudes, the practice itself is much older than the 20th century.

    Otherwise great article!

    • Katherine Soper

      I just wrote this in a comment above, but I considered going into more detail about ancient practices of hair removal and thought it was more important to emphasise the reason we shave now, which isn’t influenced by the Greeks or Romans at all. Unless I’m much mistaken (I did all the research for this article a few months ago and so the details are a bit blurry) nearly all ancient hair removal was in order to prevent lice – not such a problem for us.

      I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with hair removal (apart from the damage it can do to sensitive skin, which ain’t very fun) – but there is something wrong with the way we regard it, and that’s very much a 20th/21st century phenomenon.

      • Pierre

        Hi Katherine, thanks for this article.
        Armpit, pubic, leg and breast hair are linked to puberty and as female sexuality has been tamed for centuries, the “smooth” look is just a way for patriarchy to tell women to stay as little girls, under control. This is obvious when you read Aristophanes : he explained 2500 years ago that women were supposed to be hairless because of the differentiation that men had imposed. Women were considered as monsters (it’s not a point of view, the word was used), men were the perfection. Women were assigned to some places and under men control. So it was mandatory to draw the line between men and women bodies -> the hairless norm was born : women were treated as children. What happened in 1915 was just atavism.
        When movie industry began circa 1896, the MPPDA, a puritan censor group from Hollywood, explicitly mentions it was forbidden to show Female Body Hair in movies, because it was too erotic and a woman should be equal to a man if she sports hairy armpits. Later, the Hays Code (circa 1930) extended the hairless norm for women.

  • There is room for all sorts

    at Cambridge University

  • Some musings

    Okay so I agree that the obsession with smooth skin and general repulsion at female body hair is a problem. Your pit hair shouldn’t peturb people. However, there’s another problem with going around with it on show. It’s very sexual- the reason religious painting never had it was for this reason. When painters started painting pubes, people were shocked because it was so sexual, not because it was gross. So there’s a reason why Gilette started marketing when sleeves became shorter. People wanted to show off more of their bod but not get kinky and intimate about it. Then, since 1970s, playboy etc etc, fetishisation of smooth skin became a social norm. And now people are repulsed by it. Which they shouldn’t be. HOWEVER- even without this repulsion problem, body hair is still sexual, like if a man has his pit hair out he’s probably not dressed for a May Ball. And that’s why, because I want to wear a sleeveless dress, I’ll be shaving mine off.

    • http://youtu.be/u5HRzaOFhec

      SEXUAL… oh yeahhhh

    • weight-dropping man

      Yeah, this. Seeing armpit hair on a girl outside is definitely a bit of “hey stop this sexual thing in my face, it’s almost like sexual harassment!” thing.
      One of the reasons why I’d never wear completely sleeveless shirt.

      Fetishization of shaving is pretty awful. Luckily I started reading porn magazines before it started here. Also pre-decline Japanese porn, so I was spared from this degeneracy.
      Sadly most of women here weren’t :foreveralone:

      Generally, it’s very hard to find a woman with a genetically-correct body without any pieces of metal piercing skin, weird substances smeared on face, etc.

  • I like hair.

    Body hair on women is sexy.

  • Has your armpit hair

    Got you a boyfriend yet?

    • I’m sure

      comments like this meant your respective partner couldn’t resist you

      • That’s a no then

        Come on, sing along “we are wimmin, we are strong”…

  • Freakonomics

    “Listerine, for instance, was invented in the nineteenth century as powerful surgical antiseptic. It was later sold, in distilled form, as both a floor cleaner and a cure for gonorrhea. But it wasn’t a runaway success until the 1920s, when it was pitched as a solution for “chronic halitosis”— a then obscure medical term for bad breath. Listerine’s new ads featured forlorn young women and men, eager for marriage but turned off by their mate’s rotten breath. “Can I be happy with him in spite of that?” one maiden asked herself. Until that time, bad breath was not conventionally considered such a catastrophe. But Listerine changed that. As the advertising scholar James B. Twitchell writes, “Listerine did not make mouthwash as much as it made halitosis.” In just seven years, the company’s revenues rose from $115,000 to more than $8 million.”

    I hope you are also protesting against mouthwash, bad breath being a markedly similar social construction that people now consider ‘disgusting’.

    • Oh come on

      This is just a ridiculous comment. You have complained because the article is not about something else. It’s like watching Doctor Who and loudly moaning that it provides poor coverage of current affairs.

      • Ummmm

        No it isn’t.

        This is an article about how a major corporation invented a problem that isn’t there, and labeling it a feminist issue.
        The above example shows a major corporation inventing a different problem which is now accepted as completely normal, and in no way related to sexuality.

        I see no reason why, if you stand by one, you should ignore the other…

        • Well

          It’s a feminist issue because women are expected to shave their underarms and legs, and men aren’t. Bad breath isn’t gendered in the same way.

        • Because

          It’s not relevant to the point of the article.

          Katherine’s opinions on halitosis do not in any way affect the validity of her point here.

          • Except

            I would suggest that they do. If she believes that her argument is valid and consistent (and not simply a rationalisation of personal preferences) then it would be odd if she did not also refrain from using products which prevent halitosis (but which have no other medical benefits). I would imagine, given the society she lives in, that she does not practice this – revealing an inconsistency in her actions.

            Not necessarily a problem, but worth pointing out.

            • You might have a point

              if society believed that only women had bad breath and needed to use mouthwash, or if this article was written in a world where men and women were all expected to shave. Halitosis is a similar corporate invention but it’s not sexist. The pressure to shave is.

              • What’s the fuss about

                The fact that different social conventions exist for different genders does not mean that men and women are unequal; clearly this is a point that those mindlessly following the credo of ‘feminism’ fail to understand.

                As for feminists (as opposed to people who just get on and accept that the genders are equal and act accordingly), congratulations: because of your antics now women are just as much wage slaves as men. Nice going.

  • Anonymous

    Armpit hair is overrated.

    Now, trumpet hair…

  • Anonymous

    Fingernails… a girl has the option to cut them short or grow them long, both considered acceptable and attractive, a guy doesn’t have the option, it would be seen as unusual for a guy to have long finger nails. This has nothing to do with a feminist cause or gender equality, its about the rules of attraction that have developed in our society, for both men and women, if you don’t like them fine, grow your hair wild and free- but be prepared to deal with the reaction of a conditioned society without screaming ‘gender discrimination! this isn’t fair!’.

    • Harriet Harperson

      Shut up, man! I run you now!

  • Mamie Juirhead

    I don’t mind if you’re hairy, as long as you’re fit. #cmoooooooooooooon

    I lied, please shave.

  • Just saying

    Ladies, why can’t feminism be reconciled with not being repulsive?

    Saying that *some* blonds don’t look bad when they are hairy though.

    • Exactly

      Women! You may only have equality and freedom of choice if you look good!

  • Captain Obvious

    There be a shitstorm brewin’ in that thar comments section

  • Anonymous

    I don’t really have anything enlightening to add, other than that Katherine, I think you’re beautiful, and having body hair doesn’t change that at all.

  • From my girlfriend

    on this topic:

    ‘Ah more [feminism articles]!!!! Why?!?! Body hair is horrible (on girls anyway!). We’re not monkeys haha. I’m so sick of all this feminism stuff. Men and women aren’t meant to be equal, they’re not in most other animal species so what’s the difference? I hope they’re not still going on about it when I come down haha’

    • Congratulations

      on having a girlfriend who seems to have no self-respect. You must be very proud.

    • This is called

      Internalized sexism

      • This is called

        Disagreeing over a matter of moral and personal choice, not objective sexism. Feminists usually get away with the man-hating patriarchy crap, but when a potential sista comes along who happens to disagree with you, saying the patriarchy virus has taken over due to some subconscious stuff you can miraculously see just won’t cut it.

        • “men and women aren’t meant to be equal”

          Sounds like sexism to me

          • Obviously
          • sounds more like

            she wasn’t planning on dictating a Tab comment and said what she knew her bf would understand, even if carelessly worded. I’d say it’s true that men and women are meant to be equal (in social standing, worth, rights etc…), but they’re not meant to be the same…there’s a difference.

    • Your girlfriend

      sounds like an air-headed shit.

      • You feminists

        are a malicious lot aren’t you.

    • I’m sure

      she’s a fantastic hatstand.

  • Come down

    to visit me in May Week that is.

  • No wonder

    1 in 6 students are virgins.

    • correlation

      Girls with hairy armpits?

      • Statistics

        Correlation = Causation. ALWAYS.

  • Hmmmm…

    Don’t mean to be a prick but im really not a fan of the hairy girls. Apologies.

    • That’s cool

      I doubt the hairy girls are a fan of you

  • You

    are an inspiration. Fuck the naysayers, this is really, truly inspiring stuff.

  • Leo Sayer

    You make me feel like dancing.

  • Legitimate Question

    I don’t find body hair on women attractive. I don’t expect people to shave, I just find them more appealing when they have. Why am I not allowed to have this preference?

    • Infowarrior

      You’re not allowed to have that preference because the feminists are putting us under a form of feminist-led mass Stockholm syndrome, where we’re made to like what is bad and we’re conditioned to attack those who want to wake us up. It’s like (and I hate to use this gross analogy) walking through a field with cows in it, and there’s a big steaming pile of cow manure right there and I say “hey watch out, that’s cow manure” and some city-slicker goes “really? I think it’s a big chocolate cake”. And I’m like “no, that’s cow manure I promise. Cows eat grass, they’ve got three stomachs, they crap that out”. And they’re like “shut up conspiracy theorist” and they sit down with a spoon and start eating it and I say “hey, does that really taste good?” and they say “yeah! It’s chocolate like I said” (with a look of revulsion on their face). And you’re going “no no man, this is tyranny, you don’t want to eat that. You don’t want to go down this road. The founders said it was cow manure” and they say “no! I say it’s chocolate cake!”. And that’s what people are doing who go along with this – I say everybody having to put their hands up and come out of their houses is chocolate cake! I say that the government spying on us without warrants is chocolate cake! I say that drones targetting us domestically is a good thing, it’s chocolate cake! Same with female body hair.

      • what

        have you been smoking mate?

        • :)

          chocolate cake

    • Um…

      I don’t think Katherine ever said that you weren’t allowed to have this preference. Everyone has their preference, and you sounds like a decent guy insofar that you don’t expect people to shave. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you holding that view, but I think you misinterpreted the article a bit.

    • legitimate answer

      You’re totally allowed to have that preference. I think what Katherine is pointing out is that if there were more hairy women around it’d be seen as more normal, and as a result of that, more men would probably find it attractive/neutral, and maybe your preference would change. Maybe it wouldn’t. Whatever. Our attractions are also in large part to do with social conditioning

  • overweight man

    if your body hair should not perturb anyone, neither should my weight problem. And yet it does, because it’s unattractive. Many men find underarm hair on women unattractive.
    It is nothing more than a matter of attraction. While I’ll admit that women’s daily lives are subject to this far more than men’s, it is unfair to ask that men stop judging women on appearance when men such as myself are still judged by our appearance. I’m perfectly for the total abandonment of physical attraction, as long as you don’t apply a double standard.

    Sincerely

    an (honestly) overweight man

    • Attractiveness

      I don’t think attractiveness is the issue as much as the amount of repulsion and disgust people sometimes express upon seeing a woman who chooses not to shave.

    • this

      comment deserves a lot more attention. Imagine if this guy was a woman, a little bit on the chunkier side, with a whiteboard outside King’s saying ‘I need feminism because I shouldn’t be judged by my weight’, all the feminists would come out and give her loads of support, some twat at Varsity would have written an article about it, and if they had similar guts to Miss Soper here, maybe wear some ‘slutty’ clothing to show that women should be allowed to wear what they like. If it’s a man the rules don’t apply, because men are the enemy.

      From an (honestly) overweight woman who is sick of the ‘feminists’ here.

      • Really?

        As a feminist I totally agree that neither men nor women should be judged on their body weight. I don’t know where you’ve found your straw-feminist from, but that really doesn’t seem to match up to anyone I know who calls themselves a feminist.

        The thing is though, feminist is primary about breaking down the patriarchy and helping people to realise that they don’t have to be the beautiful/pretty/air-headed girl or tough/macho/heartless man. Body image comes into that a lot.

        However, this article was not about body size/shape/weight, which is probably why Katherine wasn’t addressing this…

        • Anti-feminist

          You lost me as soon as you said “I don’t know where you’ve found your straw-feminist from”. You seem to believe that all other feminists share your brand of feminism. Face it, it’s a broad movement and feminists do exist who would react as “this” is discribing. You can disassociate yourself from them without claiming that they don’t exist.

          • Maybe

            that’s because I’ve genuinely never met anyone calling themselves a feminist who believes that ‘men are the enemy’ and that body positivity shouldn’t apply to both genders. This is a classic strawman argument directed at feminists, and so I’m calling it out as such.

            Also, if you don’t mind me asking, why exactly are you anti-feminist?

            • Anti-feminist

              That’s a long debate for a Tab comments section. Essentially, I believe it does more harm than good, particularly for women. It convinces them they’re a victim, an attitude I have seen infect people I love and lead to despair, over-compensation and apathy. I also think it places far too great an emphasis on comparatively trivial aspects of well-being, such as wages, when I’d argue a far greater indication of societal well-being are depression and suicide statistics, or the proportion of the prison population (all dominated by men). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a masculinist as I think these are all acceptable differences in society due to intrinsic differences between the sexes (and as someone who has suffered from depression, it isn’t something I take lightly). But it does mean I think feminism is misguided and highly inconsistent.

              Apologies if that is difficult to understand so breifly phrased, I don’t want to go on about it. But if you were wondering, your “straw-man” plays almost no role in my dislike of the movement.

              • feminist

                I think you mean ‘straw-person’…

              • jesus christ

                It’s easy to argue wages are trivial when you’re not the one getting the short end of the stick.
                If the debate was too long for this article, then don’t post your unsubstantiated conclusions: “feminism is misguided and highly inconsistent”. Its amazing how many people over the years who I’ve heard announce their views on controversial topics with total confidence, and then can’t actually articulate their reasoning to save their lives. You are almost certainly an idiot.

    • Body positivity

      is another branch of the feminist movement which tries to get people to accept all body shapes – male and female

    • Katherine Soper

      ‘it is unfair to ask that men stop judging women on appearance when men such as myself are still judged by their appearance’ – well, I was trying to aim the article at women as much as men, because the root of the body hair problem isn’t with one gender or the other. I wasn’t focusing on men here because hair is much more of an issue for women, but it doesn’t follow that I’m therefore unlikely to care about the issues men face in relation to their appearance. It’s not an either/or thing. As someone has commented, any feminist worth their salt believes in body positivity for all genders. Fat-shaming and the issues overweight people face in society are incredibly complex and deep-rooted and I’m surprised no one (in my memory) has written an article about it.

      • weight-dropping man

        The main issue that obese people face is that most of diets are insane, don’t have scientific basis and are based on excessively fast weight loss.

        I weight 120kg and I tried dieting many times without success because I would simply become non-functional. The brutal truth is even that if I’ll eat 3000kcal a day, with a 1000-2000kcal deficit, I’ll feel like shit and I won’t be able to function normally.
        The only way for me to healthily get to reasonable weight is to diet with pauses for two years. That’s what I learned recently, so that’s what I do. I also work-out regularly and walk on several-kilometre walks every day. It makes me feel much better physically and emotionally than when I was just sitting there and gaining weight. When I tried dieting before with stupid expectation of fast weight loss, I felt awful beyond description though.

        As for fat-shaming – there is good “fat shaming” – health awareness programs similar to ones the ones for smokers and bad fat shaming – that is bullying and social exclusion.

  • Geddy Lee

    You have every right not to shave your armpits. I also have every right to find shaven far more attractive than unshaven.

  • I don’t get the argument

    Status Quo: Hairy armpits on women don’t look good. Women hence shave.
    Article: Women didn’t shave a 100 years ago (most people only started bathing regularly a 100 years ago as well), therefore women shouldn’t have to, and this somehow will help with feminism and women getting paid as much as men.

  • Right

    Fine. Don’t shave. Kudos — you’re disobeying a pointless social norm that isn’t hard to follow and achieving… what, exactly? We all follow pointless social rules. Disobeying them just to show how much ‘choice’ you’re emphasising is stupid and irritating.

    • Ex

      ercising. Not ‘emph’.

    • ‘Stupid and irritating’

      How DARE she not follow a ‘pointless’ social rule. So inconsiderate.

      What’s your problem exactly? Scared of a little hair?

      • I

        have a problem with people making a massive deal about how awesome they are for being “non-conformists”. So, you have hair under your armpits. I do not care. Do not expect a medal. Expect, at most, some guys to be put off, and some hipsters to like you because you’re also hipster.

        • If you don’t care…

          don’t read about it? Or get this far down the comments section?

        • Katherine Soper

          It’s worth bearing in mind that, if I were more concerned with my own non-conformity than with the issues behind shaving, I’d probably be wanting to maintain my own alternative hipster status rather than encouraging other women to try growing out their hair. Plus, if I wanted to go on about how awesome I am I’d have just applied for a column.

          One thing I didn’t mention in the article was that meeting someone who didn’t shave was the final catalyst in my decision to stop. I genuinely think a lack of visibility is one of the main reasons that stops a lot of girls taking the plunge, and so I feel the need to fly the flag a bit. You don’t care, and that’s no skin off either of our noses – but for a lot of people it’s taboo, and the only way to make it less so is by being vocal and visible.

  • Sigmund Freud

    Letting your id run your life and intellectualising it using your ego is simply a terrible attempt at trying to derail your own super-ego. Feminists who decide society should change merely to accommodate whatever their own impulses desire, and suggesting anyone who disagrees with them is a misogynist/sexist/betrayer of the feminist cause, is either a psychopath with a total disregard for other people’s opinions, or suffering from real psychological problems that are being plastered over by false rationalisation.

  • I can’t believe

    that the majority of comments on such a well-written article are simply ‘well, I don’t find you/hairy girls attractive’. It’s almost like women should be judged solely on their attractiveness to men, or men feel they have the power to validate a woman’s appearance…

    Lewis’s Law states that ‘the comments on any article about feminism justify feminism’ – and I think tab articles tend to prove that fairly well.

    • Mr Truth

      Lewis sounds like an absolute feminist retard, with severe confirmation bias.

      • Mr Confirmation bias?

        Except is it really confirmation bias when you yourself have just used the phrase ‘feminist retard’?

        • Mr Truth

          brb calling a spade a spade
          brb getting accused of confirmation
          brb wtf

    • Workers Unite!

      I have a Karl Marx style beard. Most women don’t find that attractive. I accept that people have preferences in what they find attractive, and don’t feel like the victim of sexist and oppressive expectations. Listen people…you can do whatever the hell you want. But you can’t get angry at people who don’t find you attractive.

      • er

        yeah but you having a karl marx style beard has nothing to do with sexist and oppressive expectations. The fact that people are disgusted by body hair on women and not men is what moves it from and issue of opinion to one of sexist expectations

    • umm

      Yes men judge women on their appearance. Is this new to you? And be realistic: women also do the same. But I don’t know why you inserted the word “solely”.

  • interesting that

    everyone is so keen to preserve other more ‘exotic’ cultures, but seem to have a hard time accepting that we should maintain any kind of culture/social expectations over here. Don’t expectations stem from a need for community/social identity. We don’t all need to try and be different.

  • EVERYONE should shave

    It is too obvious to point out that men’s armpit hair is also gross – the fact that lots of men don’t think it is doesn’t make me want to join the club….

  • Ali G

    Me love bush – anything which give foliage to the poonani area

  • WHY DONT WE

    ALL JUST LOVE EACH OTHER FOR WHO WE ARE BECAUSE ITS WHATS ON THE INSIDE THAT COUNTS AND AS LONG AS YOURE HAPPY WITH YOURSELF THEN THATS JUST GREAT BUT IT MIGHT NOT BE BUT THATS ENTIRELY YOUR CHOICE AND NOBODY SHOULD CARE EITHER WAY AND IT DOESNT MATTER IF YOU WIN OR LOSE BECAUSE ITS THE TAKING PART THAT COUNTS AND JUST REMEMBER AS YOUR NON-GENDER SPECIFIC PARENT OR GUARDIAN OR GIANT FUCKING CARETAKING HAMSTER TOLD YOU YOURE ALL FUCKING SPECIAL IN YOUR OWN FUCKING SPECIAL WAY AHHHHHHH FUCKING KILL ME

  • Fuck the patriarchy!

    If you don’t think I’m attractive the way I am, then youre an oppressor!

    Oh btw I prefer clean shaven men with good bodies and good jobs.

    • Lots of women

      like beards. I am one of them. Don’t care that much about ‘good jobs’. Most guys have average bodies and it’s fine.

      Also, you’re far more likely to see a very attractive woman with a much less attractive man than vice versa…

      • Untrue

        The second half of your comment is utter shit. Attractiveness isn’t objective. You’re probably more likely to find couples that find each other attractive than anything else. End of?

      • MMMM

        “far more likely very attractive woman with a much less attractive man than vice versa”

        This can only be true if there are more attractive women then men.

        Let me explain. For this to be true most attractive men (AM) are with attractive women (AW), and there must be some attractive women (AM) left over to be with less attractive men (LAM).

        Or in other words number of AW= AM+LAM

  • Anonymous

    But can’t maybe social conditioning be sort of okay because it means we mostly don’t do things like lots of murders or loud talk in clever films or hitting.

    • Yeah

      Because these things affect other people. Growing hair doesn’t.

      • Did

        someone really just down-vote the idea that growing hair doesn’t actually affect the way other people live their lives?

        wtf tab?

  • Let’s just clear something up here

    The problem is not whether or not you find something attractive. Everyone has different things they like and no-one should be going around yelling that ‘you should find my curves attractive’ or ‘you must like skinny girls’. The point is, that some women do not care about your validation. It’s not about what most straight men find attractive, it’s not about looking ‘pretty’ or even ‘beautiful’. It’s about having the confidence to do what you want to your body in a way that doesn’t harm anyone else but makes you happier in yourself.

    Which part of this is so hard for people to get?

    • It is a rather

      odd way to show that you do not care about validation to spend all your time telling the world how great you are for not caring about validation.

      Be hairy if you want, but don’t expect me to admire you for it.

      • I don’t think

        that Katherine’s trying to make you ‘admire’ her, she’s just saying that it isn’t right for people to say her decision not to shave is disgusting

  • Geniunely surprised

    by the amount of vitriolic comments that you’re getting. Do people really feel that threatened by a little bit of unshaven hair?

    • Judging by the thumbs down

      Yes. Yes, they do.

    • Strange word

      Threatened is a word that often gets thrown around in this type of debate.

      I do not have to be ‘threatened’ by body hair to prefer no hair. Similarly, disagreeing with a feminist on any issue does not mean you are ‘threatened’ by strong women. It just means you disagree.

      • Yeah

        but ‘disagreement’ doesn’t require the level of vitriol in this comment section. People can prefer what they like, they just shouldn’t be dicks to people who don’t conform to those preferences.

        • Word of the day

          wouldn’t happen to be… vitriol would it?

  • Nina de Paula Hanika

    We should ban shaving!

  • king

    The point about how historically we got along fine without shaving anything is a bit faulty.
    We got along fine without flushing toilets either but they’re still nice to have, not that shaving is necessarily a nice thing to be able to do, but the point being that “we got along fire without it” isn’t necessarily a good argument against something’s convenience or benefit.
    Most women living in the early 20th century or prior probably did indeed have a list of things they were more concerned with than their own body hair.
    I have been told that men keeping themselves clean shaven on their face is something that became much more widespread after world war 1 as well.

    Otherwise yeah, feel free not to shave. It is quite annoying when people undermine other’s choices as lacking agency or free will though. Free will probably doesn’t exist to begin with, but it’s a useful model in order to be able to assign responsibility and accountability for one’s choices.

  • YESSSS

    Made it to the bottom of the comments section after 3 hours of scrolling

  • This is

    a great article

  • The Cobblers

    better off pink and blue

  • I don’t think the Tab has ever made me so angry

    The point here, clearly, is not whether Ms Soper is more/ less attractive with body hair ( I doubt she gives a shit about the opinion of people who show such little understanding) but that people should be able to do something NATURAL without experiencing others disgust. Yes it’s a choice but it’s a choice to do let nature do it’s thing. Ffs everyone, do so e revision and stop proving the unenlightened right wing stereotype. Jeez.

  • I would

    (and do) go au natural but then I risk ending up in a The Tab (again – http://cambridge.tab.co.uk/2013/01/17/bitch-from-the-bridge/) without my consent…

  • Dear Tab

    Please publish articles about something other than either a) feminism, or b) UNAY lifestyle.

  • You may have got

    One hell of a reaction from this article , but I say ‘BRAVO !’ Katherine.

  • Fellow Hairy Lady

    Thank you. I have never shaved in my entire life (quite a feat for a relatively normal 19 year old).

  • untrue.

    Fun Fact: hair removal as we know it only started in 1915.

    this is such bs. women in other parts of the world (middle east, south asia) have been removing hair for centuries

    • Umm

      read all the other comments where she says why she didn’t talk about that

  • Hairy Maclary

    from donaldson’s dairy

  • TRUTH

    THIS ACTUALLY DID MAKE ME FEEL SICK .. PLEASE BUY A RAZOR

  • i am going to

    cultivate my nostril hair till it’s at least six inches long… la de da~~

  • Anonymous
  • The real question is

    if we’re so obsessed with this stereotype that less hairy women are somehow more feminine and hairy men are more manly, why is it becoming increasingly common for men to wax their chests, back, sack and dare I say crack? Food for thought.

    • There was

      an art historian somewhere up the page saying that in classical art, hair tends to be a representation of power? I’m not totally sure if this applies to head hair, but maybe body hair…

  • Unhappy Grad

    In light of the above, doubtless this post from the Corpus JCR will drive a few people completely bandy: http://tesla.corpus.cam.ac.uk/jcr/news/external

  • YESSSS

    Why did no-one tell me about the page down button?

  • GG

    I was enjoying the article until I got to the picture of the author. “It’s important to razor-wareness”?! That’s just terrible. The actual picture and the rest of the article were good though, and I entirely agree. As someone with outward-genitals, give me a naturally hairy girl every time.

  • Eve

    On holiday last year, I stopped shaving, mainly because it was a hassle, and I was very interested to see everyones reactions – most people on the tube etc looked at me with disgust. Even worse, when I got home and told my sister about it, she said she thought it was gross not to shave…
    Since then, I have become much more relaxed about shaving, and my boyfriend loves it (seriously, he never complimented my armpits before!). Obviously everyone should choose whether or not to shave, but for all those doubters, I am bi, and find body hair sexy on men and women

  • Helena

    This is a fantastic article – raises so many essential points and is very well written indeed.

  • as it happenes, I did what KS recommends…

    and I stopped shaving my armpit hair and leg hair for a (summer) term. I honestly received no disgusted comments, just a few people saying it was cool. Most people didn’t notice.

    I decided to give it a go because in my first year I used to see this finalist in the library with really hairy armpits and I always felt the need to look at them. I wanted to understand this convulsion, and, so embarked on a personal programme of armpit hair normalisation. As a meticulous eyebrow shaper, I have nothing against hair removal per se, and do feel grooming can be part of self-expression; but I wanted to understand why I shaved, that is to say, what happened when I didn’t.

    My boyfriend and I discussed it when I began, his preference (whilst respecting mine) was for shaved armpits; very soon he became a massive fan, and is now entirely ambivalent, respecting my choice either way, and most of the time not noticing.

    When I finally shaved again, it was for my college ball. Although I can imagine that unshaved armpits might have caused comments etc, I decided to shave as part of the whole dressing up ritual of the ball, which I like. And, this might be personal, but shaving in this context, just like not-shaving, was fun; that is to say, it felt like a free aesthetic choice (in the vein of, should I wear red or blue today? Should I wear my hair up or down?).

    In short: I now don’t worry about shaving, doing it only sometimes and if I particularly want to, which has saved me a lot of time and money, and has not exposed me to any disgust, or compromised my personal hygiene or sex life; the experience has been entirely positive.

    To which I’d like to add that my experience – not by any means conclusive – agrees with Katherine’s entirely: the normalisation of my body hair, rendered it neutral aesthetically and sexually – and rid me of any feelings of shame or discomfort (e.g. wearing a jumper on a hot day) I used to feel if I hadn’t had time to shave, as well as the feeling that spending time and money on shaving (etc) was imperative.

    Like Katherine, I recommend giving it a go.

  • goodness me…

    Its natural to be dirty, die at 40, sleep in piles of mud, and eat infected food and drink. Feminism is such an extreme which fails to realise that change is OK and women should embrace the feminine role and accept gender differences that either develop evolutionarily or via society. The only thing that will happen if women start acting like what modern society calls male characteristics is they will get less action, make less babies, and pass these extremist genes to the next generation LESS which means stop wasting your time and enjoy your female life!

  • anja

    Katherine Soper almost convinced me . But then I saw these pictures in the column and knew that I´m right.
    “legs, underarms, and all” is my own decision. Not feminism, not men or anything else only my own good feelings are crucial.

  • RandMan

    As a male of the species, I have to tell you that I have come to understand – deeply – the attraction and sensuality of unshaven women’s armpits. I cannot explain the attraction, but I noticed it at a young age and it has never waned.

    So for all you women thinking that “all men find it gross”, I am here to tell you quite the contrary. And, no, I’m not some random perv hangin’ out in the parlor. I am a successful entrepreneur who has learned to express what he really wants. And like it or not, this guy wants hairy chicks.

    And lose the body-clogging deodorant and makeup while you’re at it. You think you can improve on what God created? Only in a marketer’s eyes who has absolutely sold the world on the “benefit” of this stuff that makes him millions. Go natural, be proud, attract the right man into your life.

  • weight-dropping man

    “Women had got along just fine, and displayed no innate desire for a smooth, silky leg.”
    Hairless skin isn’t “silky” – it’s rubbery in touch. Body hair is what makes skin silky in touch.

    Humans are mammals. Mammals are hairy. There are creatures that aren’t hairy out there, for example earthworms, snakes, lizards, frogs, fishes, etc.
    It is good to compare degenerates to these obviously lower creatures.

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  • MAN

    What a bunch of bullshit. Are you serious ? Your whole argument is based on the fact that “society conditioned us into believing women should be hairless. Hair is natural. So society is wrong” …. Why don’t you walk around naked then ? That’s the natural way of being. I’ve seen a picture of the author wearing skimpy clothes with her armpit hair dyed red… Let me guess, you wore that because “it made you comfortable, and you should be able to wear what you want” … Nothing to do with being sexy (though you weren’t) and attractive to the opposite sex. Don’t confuse a woman who represents feminine sexuality and spells men by her charm, with a bitch who tries to please them. You clearly failed at both, and took it out by growing your armpit hair.