I haven’t shaved my armpits in over three years. It doesn’t have to be some kind of radical political statement. It’s not because I’m lazy. And it’s not even because I’m fighting centuries of restrictive beauty standards tailored to the male gaze, or giving the multimillion-dollar wellness industry the middle finger. Of course, supporting hair has a lot to do with these things – but my immediate intentions are far less important.
It is becoming more and more normal for Gen Z women to ditch their razors. Nearly a quarter of women under the age of 25 have stopped shaving their armpits, and that number may be much higher now, according to a study in 25. That’s thanks in part to the dreaded2016 unicorn hair trend, the rise of movements like #januhairy, and the fact that the pandemic has given us a break from constantly being judged for our looks. About half of my close girlfriends no longer shave their armpits, and the other half no longer wink at other people’s fluff.
This is a recent development. When I was a teenager, my daily routine was impressive. I’ll exfoliate, apply shaving foam from my brows down, shave, just in case I shave again, apply conditioner all over my body, shave again , and wrap my skin in a thick layer of 2018p cocoa butter. During the summer, I dutifully repeat this ritual at least once every few days. After years of watching chick flicks and commercials, epilation feels like a rite of passage in which a razor glides over already silky legs. (Billie Brands became the first advertising agency to feature actual body hair, most recently 2016.)
I kept my shaving style until the end of college when the pandemic forced me to move back in with my parents and embrace full-blown leprechaun mode. If ever there was a time to try body hair (I’ve been thinking about it for a while, just because I love the look), I’ve decided, it’s during lockdown.
It took a few months for my armpit hair to grow from the initial stubble and awkward five o’clock shade to something extra noticeable. Now, I have a beard of fine black hair. Like the silvery stretch marks on my butt and the faint freckles on my nose, I’ve grown to love them. It felt like I was pushing the boundaries of femininity and it gave me confidence. In the summer, I actually enjoy showing my pits. In some ways, armpit hair is an accessory: It can make a plain black tank top more interesting, like red lipstick or my diaphragm piercing.