Writing by Maddie Langley // Photograph by Clemence Leclerc
Nervous. Cautious. Sweating. I made my way over, my calm exterior hiding the trepidation I felt. Of all the places in which a first date could take place, why would the supermarket prevail as the sound choice? The convenience of a quick shop? The multitude of people busily attending to their errands? The use of the frozen section to calm the unrelenting heat? The possibility of making no less than 13 puns in the fruit and veg section? Who knows. However, the psychology isn’t important. What is important is the reason why I was there. This being my first date, I wasn’t sure what to expect, so perhaps this quirky location helped to ease the nerves threatening to escape.
The special occasion had induced my bolder selection of a sleeveless top, which unnerved me slightly, yet added to my confidence. Taking a deep breath upon entering the shop, I reminded myself, “I am confident and should not be afraid.”
I reached my arm languidly, yet with an intimate purpose, to the highest shelf to retrieve some spices (while I was there, I thought I may as well do some shopping). Time appeared to have suspended, as my arm grasped upon the item. And there he was, located somewhere between the spaghetti and the linguine. Our eyes connected. My hand began to retrieve my much needed item in slow anticipation. I felt bold, empowered by the situation. Even as his gaze lingered lower, running from my hand down my arm, I still felt confident and oh so pleased with myself. My boldness did falter somewhat as his confused state quickly evolved to one of discomfort—and, dare I say, disgust—as his linger stopped at my exposed armpit.
And that was my first date with my hairy armpits.
Underarm hair never fails to be a subsection of female anatomical autonomy that is always being discussed, where the choice whether to remove or keep your bodily hair is propelled into two categories, determined by society:
Woman 1: Is a silky-smooth hairless woman, who is the epitome of beauty.
Woman 2: Is a hairy beast that hates men and hygiene and probably baby animals.
However, we know that body hair shouldn’t define beauty standards and that women are perfectly capable of choosing whether to shave or not, without worrying how it will please or affect those surrounding her. Because in reality, Woman 1 and 2 are beautiful for many more reasons than simply if they decided to shave it for later—or not. Life is filled with so many issues, so why take offence to such a trivial thing that has nothing to do with you?
I’m what I would like to call “armpitdextrous” because I really don’t have have any issue with my underarm hair; I think it’s quite lovely and I occasionally go long periods without shaving. However, I usually do shave my armpits regularly, it’s just what I like to do. And since they are MY armpits, I think I can be happy with my choice.
That’s not to say I don’t feel a certain pressure from societal standards of external beauty, but I do try my best to do what I like and what I am comfortable with. So if that means one week I am perfectly content with my hairy armpits but the next decide to shave, it is perfectly fine and it is this decision that I should embrace more in the future.
Albeit, the hair belonging to my armpits was not the greatest at holding a lengthy conversation, but we did have a nice time together and with an exchange of numbers had agreed to a second date, which I hoped would continue into a non-committed, occasional relationship—one where I was free to sometimes adorn my underarm boldly, without feeling any discomfort in the rejection of society’s notions of female propriety.[share]