I’m not gonna lie, I’ve always loved the feeling of hairless underarms. Shaving after a camping trip or an exam period (let’s be honest, showering during exams is a mission) can be cathartic. But there’s something to be said for trying something new. So for a few weeks I let my pits grow wild and wooly.
Last month my roommate and I made a plan: we were going to spend 3 weeks growing out our underarm hair to have it waxed. We made the serious commitment to one another—not unlike a blood oath.
One measly week into our pact, my roommate caved (and shaved). “I really wanted to wear a tank top today,” she pleaded. “I just couldn’t wear this top with my armpits looking like that.” She was weak. But I was strong. I was left on my own to navigate this new world of bristly underarms.
As the days passed, my body morphed into a hairy wasteland. I felt like Jacob Black mid-wolf transition. My Smooth Wax Bar coupons (thank you Westernizer) were burning a hole in my pocket but my esthetician’s words rang in my ears like a biblical proverb: make sure thy armpit hair is the length of a grain of rice. I won’t let you down Cailin, I thought as I carried on my journey of personal (/hair) growth.
Going home for Thanksgiving posed a new challenge in my journey: critical family members. “I can’t even look at you,” my sister spat after she caught a glimpse of my furry friends. “Is this another feminist thing?” my mom asked with a furrowed brow. I justified my hair to everyone by explaining that I was growing it out to have it waxed.
The many disgusted looks I encountered upon raising my arms alarmed me. Most of the world doesn’t remove body hair; some third-wave feminists, many European women, and most men don’t bother plucking, shaving or waxing. Even though having underarm hair was my choice (even if only for a few weeks), others seemed personally offended by my small patches of fuzz.
I chose to ignore the haters and embrace my au naturel look. For the first time since puberty, I let my underarm hair grow naturally and it made me feel womanly and strong. I no longer looked at my razor with lust. I could live knowing my Dutch ancestors would be proud.
I will still be going for my wax next week, but to me, this isn’t a loss. I challenged myself by trying something new and exploring the capabilities of my body. Regardless of this journey, as I have hairs forcefully removed from my armpits I know I’ll only be thinking one thing: f@#% this hurts.
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