Movember, the ever popular annual event that sees men worldwide make their best attempts at facial hair to raise awareness for testicular cancer, has got some competition.
Forget the gripping drama of men with beards so big you wonder if they’re housing birds or the forlorn teenagers who still find themselves with just a few whiskers four weeks later; this summer it’s the ladies turn. Specifically ladies willing to grow their armpit hair. Will I be taking part? Not a chance in hell.
Armpits4August is an undoubtedly a fantastic campaign. Set up to help raise funds and awareness of polycystic ovary syndrome, it also aims to tackle traditional attitudes of shame towards women’s bodily hair. Yet while men partaking in the Movember challenge can proudly boast about their achievements – the more hair the better is the general rule – as women we’re conditioned to think any type of hair, other than the hair on our heads, is bad, shameful and unclean.
Whether we’re talking vaginas, legs or armpits any kind of bodily hair on women is instantly judged. Walk around proudly – or even indifferently – displaying your non-shaven body and you’ll find yourself the subject of funny looks, grimaces of disgust and horrified whispers between friends. Of course this kind of attitude is fundamentally sexist and wrong, women should always feel to do whatever they want to their bodies without fear of being judged, but it’s undeniably the way society works right now.
Opting not to shave actually comes with a whole host of benefits, from avoiding razor burn and microscopic cuts to helping your under arms smell less icky and reducing friction. And of course, it’s completely natural and normal. Yet this simply isn’t how society views women who decide that the war on bodily hair is a completely pointless task. I for one, alongside, I suspect, millions of other women across the country, just wouldn’t have the nerve to do it.
It’s not that I’m not body confident and it’s not that I’m not 100 per cent behind the cause, but the thought of endless jibes, judgements and sideway glances from other women, men and even my friends sounds far too much to bear on a daily basis. Heck, I even break out in a cold sweat if I go out in a skirt and forgot to shave that morning.
Until we manage to change the social stigma around body hair people will continue to be ashamed of breaking it off with their trusty razor blade. Of course that’s not to say we shouldn’t be doing anything about the issue – quite the opposite – but we have to accept the fact that most women won’t sign up to the cause before the stigma goes away, at least in part.
It’s exactly this reason why we need brave people like Chloe Marshall running events like Armpits4August; to help show the rest of us there really is nothing to be afraid of. And alongside help from the media and the education system, who knows, maybe we’ll get there someday – but for now my razor blades aren’t going anywhere.