A Hairy Business

Nature or nurture when it comes to shaving?

By Steven Wells
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 31 | Posted May. 12, 2009

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You know what looks really sexy on a woman? Stubble. Underarm stubble. Oh baby, now we’re talking. So much sexier than a tuft of (ugh) hair, don’t you agree?

Of course you do. You and the rest of the entire Western world. I’ve watched the obsession with shaving underarm hair grow from the ridiculous conceit of a generally despised woman-hating minority into an almost universal consensus. And it sucks.

In the 1980s a female friend was threatened with dismissal from an office job if she didn’t either shave off or cover up her underarm hair. All the cool people I knew were suitably shocked and appalled. What kind of sick fascist bastard would demand their female employees disfigure themselves like that?

Twenty years later I feel like the only sane person on the planet. Where have all the cool people gone? They’ve turned into shave-bots, every one.

In the 1980s “shut up and shave” was the sneering put down of woman- hating Republicans. Today all the women I know shave. Everybody I speak to claims to be physically disgusted by the very idea of an unshaved female armpit. Female celebrities who don’t shave, or who shave too infrequently, are mocked on TV, in the gossip mags and on the web. We have become a culture of squeamish ninnies.

Of course when you’re the last sane person on the planet, you spend a lot of time questioning your sanity. Am I only pretending to be pro-underarm hair so I can get laid by my feminist chums? Even though all my feminist chums actually shave their armpits?

I close my eyes and try real hard to put myself inside the head of a shave-clone. Look—I say to myself—an armpit with hair. Isn’t that disgusting? Doesn’t that make you physically sick? Doesn’t that make you not want to have sex with that person?

But try as I might, it doesn’t. The obsession makes no sense. It’s as if society decided that eyebrows on women were repulsive and women started shaving them off and celeb magazines witch-hunted famous women who committed a crime against decency by letting them grow back.

This sheeplike anti-underarm hair consensus is just one tiny part of the desexing of sex—the same gay-fashion- and-straight-porn driven Barbie-and-Kenning of sexual aesthetics that dictates that the perfect female shape (long legs, tiny bottom, few if any pubes, etc.) is exactly the same as that of the average prepubescent boy (with tits added to taste).

Let’s take away the sweat (and if you don’t find the smell of fresh sweat erotic, then you’ve never had great sex), take away the hair, let’s make women look as much like children as possible. Hey, did someone say pedophilia?

Even as the specter of child molestation wracks us with so much fear that we’re raising entire generations of mollycoddled, soft-handed fat kids who are never let out alone or unsupervised, the aesthetics of pedophilia are everywhere triumphant, and in the West we groom our women to look like fresh-faced choirboys.

See also the frightening spectacle of wrinkle-free sixty- and seventysomething TV personalities and the bombardment of ads for quack medicines designed to stop 48-year-olds looking like 48-year-olds. Because who in their right mind wants to have sex with someone who looks their age when they could be having sex with someone trying desperately to look like they’re 12?

Like I said, people are sick.

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Comments 1 - 31 of 31
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1. bollyarm said... on May 13, 2009 at 03:23AM

“great write up .you are not alone. and babes know the power of armpit stubble these days. please visit our eponymous female armpit forum.”

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2. Leah said... on May 13, 2009 at 07:22PM

“My eyes about popped out of my head as I read this on the train this afternoon. I was waiting for the punchline or the but...but there was none. Thank you. I share your view completely (every bit) though I admit, I go along with the "when in Rome" thing though I also admit nobody would ever notice if I didn't shave under my arms, not much there so it's kind of a non-issue for me except in theory.”

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3. Hooray said... on May 14, 2009 at 11:29AM

“Thank you for connecting those dots. Funny how so many women will say they shave not for conformity but because underarm hair is smelly--but then they have sex with husbands with underarm hair. Either it is smelly or it isn't!”

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4. Anonymous said... on May 20, 2009 at 04:16PM

“i am a male and love women with 3 or 4 MM hair in thier armpits. they make me crazy and love making is so erotic.
completely shaven women are like dolls, unrealistic. women are living beings and do grow hair on many places, including arms and legs.why people do not criticise women growing hair on arms and legs.
one more thing. i visited Europe and in many countries, like France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Holland, i saw many many young women and girls with bush in their armpits. they never cared about it.”

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5. Gloria said... on Sep 3, 2009 at 01:37PM

“I'm a female American (age 24) and though my mom taught me to shave, I stopped doing it by about age 16 or so and haven't touched a razor since. Have I been mocked for this choice? A little, but why should I care? I have more important things to do with my time (like learning stuff and making art!) than fussing over whether I conform.

No shaving for me, thanks.”

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6. mike said... on Sep 3, 2009 at 02:08PM

“I love armpit hair on a woman. The first girl I made love to had armpit hair, and I remember running my hands under her arms, and it was so erotic!”

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7. Anonymous said... on Sep 3, 2009 at 02:29PM

“I am amazed that I am the only one who is going to critique some of this article.

While I agree with the basic premise and some of the main points, the author fails to see the irony in that his extreme endorsement of it is just as annoying and "fascist" as the people he is criticizing.

First off, the article is littered with ad-hominem attacks. Ready for a shocker, Steven? I am a rather vocal feminist, and I prefer women with shaved underarms. So right off the bat, labelling the foundation of this trend as being from "woman-hating minorities" is a ridiculous and completely unfounded attack.

While I agree that it was highly intolerant and extreme for what your boss said to your colleague, calling him a "sick fascist bastard", terms usually reserved for brutal dictators and murderers, and referring to shaving your underarm as "disfigurement" with a negative connotation makes you just as extreme and silly as he is. One useful skill you should learn when it comes to argumentation is”

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8. Anonymous said... on Sep 3, 2009 at 02:34PM

“I'm an independent amd happy woman, aged 41. I don't enjoy body hair, I personally dont like sweaty moist hair on my body, be it my armpit or crotch. I do support your right to wear your hair however you like and to enjoy that, but don't call my lovers pedophiles just because you're tired of fascist bullshit. A hairstyle does not a personality make, no matter what it is.”

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9. Anonymous said... on Sep 3, 2009 at 02:35PM

“argumentation is the ability to see things from the other point of view. You seem to attempt to do this with your "closing my eyes and picturing underarm hair disgusting me", without realizing that you can't do that due to the fact that you are inherently attracted to it. Of course you don't know what it feels like to be repulsed by it. But guess what? Do you have a foot fetish? If not, can you "imagine" what it's like to be really turned on by the sight of feet? Of course not. And in the same way, I cannot imagine how people can be turned on by armpit hair whatsoever. Would it stop me from sleeping with a woman? Probably not, but I still prefer shaved.

You say that people only "claim" to be repulsed by it, and then you refer to people who agree with your point of view as "cool". Perhaps you should take a class in sexuality and learn to understand that different people have different preferences, and having one over another does not make you better in some way.”

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10. Anonymous said... on Sep 3, 2009 at 02:41PM

“You say the obsession makes no sense. Of course it doesn't make sense to you. Guess what? Every single sexual fetish in the world will not "make sense" to you if you don't have that particular fetish - and your inability to realize this astounds me.

Then you go on to compare eyebrows with armpit hair. I do not know of a single person that has an eyebrowless fetish. This is the difference. A lot of people, for whatever reason, HAVE a shaven preference. But not a lot of people think eyebrowless women are gorgeous. Hence, many women shave their underarms, but do not shave their eyebrows - I cannot see why this is so difficult for you to understand.

And you're right, a lot, maybe even the majority of men prefer this "perfect" model you describe. And you will also find millions and millions of men who don't. You will find men that love overweight women, strange looking women, whatever you want. But most prefer your description. Sorry that not everyone has your sexual preferences, life s”

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11. Anonymous said... on Sep 3, 2009 at 02:45PM

“preferences, but life sucks, get used to it.

Then you go on to call men who have this preference "pedophiles". Wow, great. I didn't realize not liking hair and liking children sexually were the exact same thing. For somebody that claims to attack others for "not making sense", you sure aren't making much, as least not logically.

And I'm pretty sure these older desperate women are trying to look more like 20, not 12. I am not sure where you got that age from. Perhaps you are mentally ill in some way and are suffering from hallucinations? Watch who you call sick, you monstrous hair-loving freak. See? I can that too, and garner support from my fellow shave lovers. But I prefer to use logic and valid reasoning, those gifts that my brain provide.


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12. gardenrivernymph said... on Sep 3, 2009 at 02:48PM

“I LOVE my armpit hair! However I don't really like fully grown out. I trim it with clippers on a #1guard. Same goes for my legs. The way I see it is, if a guy is turned off by my hair, he's probably not that cool anyway.

I'm with Gloria - I have better things to do with my time than shave”

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13. Anonymous said... on Sep 3, 2009 at 02:51PM

“I'm half asian; half American. My Asian mother always tweezed her underarm hair and never shaved her legs. She didn't teach me that. She didn't care if I shaved or not - anywhere. For me, it's uncomfortable to have hair. In our culture it's not about this or that - it's about what feels right for you. I hate the feeling of the hair. That's me. I love it. The end.”

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14. Anonymous said... on Sep 3, 2009 at 02:52PM

“I'm very grateful for this article. I'm a young 18-year old woman and I've spend many nights crying because I have to shave. I never understood the purpose of it, always felt like I was losing a part of myself when I shaved. Yet I always kept doing it. I feared that if I stopped I'd be judged, I'd never find someone to kiss, never find someone to sleep with. I still shave my armpits for that very reason, and I still hate it, but I feel like I have no choice. It's good to know that there are others in this world who understand my frustration.”

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15. Anonymous said... on Sep 3, 2009 at 02:56PM

“Actually, I think being hairless looks better on guys and girls. It's not a matter of looking more like a child, it's more about looking less dirty or less like an animal. And running my hands over smooth skin feels better than getting it caught up in scraggly hair. I can understand that you like hair, but I'm the exact opposite and think hairless is more attractive. I think guys should shave their legs too, but I'm not going to write a blog about how oppressed my view is because among most men it's socially incorrect to shave legs.”

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16. Elizabeth said... on Sep 3, 2009 at 03:02PM

“Seriously?! I'm a 22 year old woman, and I hate the smell and feel of underarm hair. I'm not crazy about leg hair either, but while I shave my underarms every time I shower, I'll do my legs just once a week or so, especially in winter when jeans cover up any hair. I just don't like the feel, the look, the smell, and maybe it is a societal thing, but that's how I feel about it. That's how my boyfriend feels about it too - he likes it when I have smooth legs. Is he some sort of pedophile? Heck no. I'm 5'8", D cup, and a great hourglass figure. I know people think I look younger than I am - but nobody's going to possibly mistake me for a child.
As for a "double standard"? I'll be honest, I'm not a big fan of underarm hair on guys. But because *society's* standard is that only women shave, and because I love him for who he is (even if he is already having issues with thinning hair and is slightly overweight), I'm not going to ask my boyfriend to shave his underarms.”

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17. Anonymous said... on Sep 3, 2009 at 03:29PM

“I'm a younger girl [=
Having hairy armpits... eh, it's not for me. I hate having hair under my arms or anywhere really except on my head. Now, arm hair, that doesn't bother me. But, I know that I don't shave because people tell me to. That would be ridiculous.
I don't care what anyone says. I think people will do whatever makes them feel like their happy and comfortable.
I remember the first time I shaved my legs. I was so happy by how smoothed they felt and how much better they looked.
Also, shaving uhm.... how to put this... "downstairs"? I think that's a different story. Yes... cleanliness. It's a lot more comfortable to have no hair down there.
Pedophilia... HA. That's funny.”

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18. Jen said... on Sep 3, 2009 at 03:43PM

“I think this article is very narrow minded. Many women shave their armpits and many do not. If you don't like the slant the celeb mags/websites give on women with armpit hair then don't read them, they don't represent everyone.

Also just because a woman may choose to shave her armpits doesn't make her a sheep, it can actually just be her personal choice.”

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19. Malacandra said... on Sep 3, 2009 at 03:48PM

“I have never shaved. i am 54yearsold and have been married twice, second time 21 years and holding. It has just never been an issue for me or either of my husbands or other partners.”

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20. Layla said... on Sep 3, 2009 at 04:08PM

“Hey there. I'm 16 years old, and I'd just like to say this.

F**k you.

You have as much right to make judgements on the reasons women often shave their armpits (which is none of your business, by the way) as much as anyone else. How dare you suggest that by shaving, I am 'trying desperately to look like I'm 12'? It's a matter of personal preference, a fashion, if you like, that no doubt will change in time.

I shave because clean skin, smooth skin is nice to look at and to feel, and I grew up in a household where none of the women shave. I've never felt pressured on either side, and whilst I disagree with women being attacked for not shaving, the opposite is equally true. How can you suggest that I am some kind of pedophile because of the way I choose to dress? You sound like the kind of person who blames rape victims for 'tempting' their attackers with skimpy clothes. And I think this is something to watch out for, don't you?

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21. SayBlade said... on Sep 3, 2009 at 04:35PM

“Men have the choice of shaving their faces and heads. Women, shave your heads, too! That's got to be even sexier than just shaved armpits, legs, pubes, don't you think? Or, maybe not. Maybe women would look too infantile and it would feed fantasies of paedophilia in the men who look at them.”

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22. Fat Feminist said... on Sep 4, 2009 at 07:56PM

fat kids

Dude? Whats with the fat hatred here? I'm a 26 year old fat feminist who doesn't shave. . . I was with you until I realized I'm not allowed to be on your side since I grew up as one of those "mollycoddled, soft-handed fat kids who are never let out alone or unsupervised".”

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23. icedidi said... on Oct 28, 2009 at 08:38AM

“love everything about this article, i've been saying this stuff for years. excellent!!!”

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24. Jenn said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 11:10PM

“Layla, you need to grow up and read a damn book. No one cares how old you are, although I'm glad you disclosed so I could have a laugh. Having a preference towards shaved vs. unshaved is fine. The inability to recognize it as a struggle for autonomy is just sad. And ladies, don't act like it's acceptable to go out in public with underarm hair, because it's not.”

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25. Anonymous said... on Dec 14, 2009 at 10:38PM

“So, most women shave. Get over it. You feel that women who don't shave their armpits are being judged, yet you are judging women who DO shave just as harshly. Tolerance is a two way street.”

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26. Anonymous said... on Feb 16, 2010 at 01:24PM

“thats sickkkk ...ewww shave ur shit like fuckkkk ewww dirty”

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27. Anonymous said... on Feb 16, 2010 at 01:26PM

“yeea agreed...... ever sick...... im bi-sexual and i would hate it if i was feeling her up and all i feel was thick nasty hair ....like barffff”

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28. Anonymous said... on Apr 26, 2010 at 01:44PM

“I have an eyebrowless fetish. I also love women with shaved heads. Shaven hair is not disfigurement. If you think it is, you have a very simple, sad life.”

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29. Anonymous said... on Oct 4, 2010 at 11:41AM

“I liked this article, and I'm glad there are people who still believe in not shaving, I have to admit I get itchy if I don't shave but I'm perfectly fine forgetting to shave my legs. I've found men don't care if you have hair so long as you bathe. And I feel the same.
Although I do have to admit you make shaving out to be time consuming and painful when it's really not, advice would be next time try a bit to not seem so haughty and know it all ish. It kind of took away from your splendid point”

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30. Anonymous said... on Oct 27, 2013 at 06:26PM

“Personally, I don't care what other women do to their bodies. I shave because I prefer to be hairless in certain parts. I'll say that again in simpler terms: I shave for ME; not for my boyfriend, or to be liked by other based on my physical features. Just because I like to shave my underarms and my genitals, does not make me a sick person, a fascist, a woman-hater, or a squeamish ninny; it makes me a person with my own personal preference on how I like to take care of my body. So, before you classify a whole group of people because of their likes and dislikes, why don't you get to know them all first?”

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31. Anonymous said... on Dec 2, 2013 at 07:52AM

“Thank you for writing this. There aren't enough guys expressing pro-body hair preferences to balance the disgust women who choose to keep their body hair get.

Personally, I believe it shouldn't matter whether men or women shave or not.

Imagine how much time and brain power a woman/man could devote elsewhere if they didn't spend their time shaving/waxing/plucking, putting on makeup or obsessing about their looks.

Oh, and cleanliness has nothing to do with hair! Every heard of washing/bathing?”


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