It was almost a month ago that I dyed my armpit hair hot pink. I’ve been growing my armpit hair out for a while now. It started as an accident, and as the days went on, I realized that I didn’t mind my armpit hair. I was ashamed of it, but I could not hold the razor to those disgusting curls under my arms. I started to wonder, why was armpit hair so ugly? Was it because only men thought it was ugly? Although, most girls think armpit hair is ugly too. Why did both men and women find it ugly? I thought about the concept of beauty, and how it was socially constructed, and always changing. Marilyn Monroe was the sexiest women of her time, and these days people would call her fat. From that moment, I set about to make armpit hair beautiful again. I needed to see armpit hair as beautiful, and, maybe then, I would not be ashamed of the hair that naturally grew under my arms.
I worked on changing my mentality for months. Most mornings I would stand in front of the mirror and look at the hair. I thought at first it was dark and pubic-like. I could only look for seconds at a time, but after a while, I started to think – my armpit hair looks sexy. It had this rugged, wild, naturalness to it, and I loved the shock of seeing it. I shocked myself every morning to see this dark curl. I started to laugh about it, and make jokes about it, but I never showed it to anyone. I even started to play with it when I was bored.
When I went home for winter break to visit my family, I showed my thirteen-year-old sister my armpit hair, and she freaked out. ‘Sammy, that is disgusting! You have to shave it!’ she said. But I just laughed.
‘I actually kind of like it, Amanda.’ She was shocked, and then said, ‘Well, if you won’t shave it, then I’ll shave it for you.’ She was joking, but I don’t believe in jokes.
‘Okay,’ I said.
‘Okay?’ she said.
‘How about for New Years Eve? Smooth armpits, new leaf.’ She agreed. I continued to look at my armpit hair and play with it. She told my mom, my cousin, and my aunt, who all agreed it was disgusting and that I was turning into a hippy at university.
And then it was New Years Eve. ‘Amanda,’ I said, ‘It’s time.’ We went into her bathroom, and I sat down on the toilet. I raised my arms above my head, and sat there while she soaped up my black armpit hair.
‘Eww, eww, I don’t think I can look at you the same way again,’ she said as she shaved my armpit hair. The hairs were quite long, and it was nerve wrecking to have someone else with a cold razor up under your armpits, but we were sisters.
‘I love you,’ I said.
‘You’re weird,’ she said.
‘You are, too.’ We finished off the second armpit, and I, for the first time in three months, had smooth armpits. It felt itchy. I dressed in a nice skirt and shirt for New Year’s Eve, hoping smooth armpits would mean a New Year’s kiss.
The next morning, I woke up in my bed, and went to play with my armpit hair, but it was gone. I missed it. I had no New Years kiss and no armpit hair to play with. I realized, just because I had smooth armpits did not mean that men would be into me all of a sudden, and I’d be on top of my game. I thought that shaving my armpits would be the easy way into a man’s pants, that I would be confident again. It wasn’t my armpit hair that I was ashamed of; it was myself. I needed to reclaim my armpit hair.
I started growing out my armpit hair again, but this time on purpose. I liked my armpit hair, and I really did think it was sexy. I started to joke about it again, and even show people. I loved the mixture of shock and disgust on their faces, but this time I was not ashamed. I had dinner with a friend, and, tipsy on red wine, she joked, ‘Sammy, you should dye your armpit hair.’ As I said earlier, I don’t believe in jokes.
‘Yes, what color? My friend is visiting next week who is a hairdresser.’
‘Blue?’ she said.
The next week, my friend Emily came to visit, and I told her the plan. I invited 15 people to the event. We purchased bleach and hot pink hair dye at Boots. I decided pink, because I had just moved, and my old bedroom had been hot pink, so it would be a symbolic representation of my childhood room. I cooked a big pot of vegan kale soup, and played Hair the Musical soundtrack in the background.
Everyone came over, and I sat on the couch in a bra. We bleached my armpit hair and then dyed them pink. I sat on the couch with my arms above my head for an hour, while they ate dinner and drank and listened to Hair. They said it felt like I was an art exhibit.
I went into the bathroom to wash out the dye, and dried myself off a bit. I looked in the mirror and pulled my arms above my head to look at my armpit hair. It was beautiful.
Hot pink tufts under my arms. I felt like a unicorn. What human had hot pink armpit hair? I thought none at the time, although after some googling, I learnt that dying your armpit hair is a trend (#dyedpit). I went out that night, and showed everyone. I loved the shock on their faces. I felt so proud. I finally felt that my armpit hair was beautiful.
Samantha Emily Evans
(Originally published on Label)