6 Women On Why They're Over Shaving Their Armpit Hair

Photographed By Lara Callahan.
Shaving or not shaving your body hair is an entirely personal decision akin to wearing lipstick or getting Botox or, idk, dressing in head-to-toe hot pink. But for some reason that still hasn't stopped people from freaking the fuck out whenever a famous woman walks onto a red carpet with unshaved armpits.
In the past few months alone, celebs like Amandla Stenberg and Lourdes Leon have sparked online debates over their visible body hair. While there are plenty of people who are rooting for these celebs, who are showing an alternative to mainstream beauty standards, there are a lot of haters too, who are quick to write rude comments on Instagram despite absolutely no one asking for their opinion.
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Of course, this isn't just a red carpet phenomenon. There are plenty of women who aren't famous who don't shave their armpits, either. And for them, just like these celebs, the reasons for doing so vary. Plenty just don't have the time, or simply don't care. Others are fed up with the expectation that women have to shave. "The fact that it only applies to women makes me not wanna shave that much more," Adeline Straatmeyer, a 22-year-old college student in South Dakota who doesn't shave her legs or armpits, says.
Since plenty of people continue to have strong opinions on this matter, we asked five women who choose not to shave their armpit hair why, exactly, they made that decision for themselves. Read their stories, then tell us yours in the comments below.
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It was all about convenience for 30-year-old Candace Bird, who works as an artist in Salt Lake City, Utah. "My heritage is all over the place, but I'm primarily of Hispanic origin and so I have very thick, coarse, black body hair," Bird says. "It is a giant pain in the ass to shave. It’s itchy. I get ingrown hairs. Six hours after shaving and I’ve got gross, prickly stubble."

And so, this past March, she decided that it was time to stop this cycle once and for all. "I was done with that shit," she says. "It’s always just chapped my ass that, in Western society, women are expected to shave their armpits but men aren’t. I mean, what the hell is that?! Why is natural hair on women viewed as filthy, yet praised on men?"

Though she wasn't sure she'd love the results, eight months later she doesn't see herself ever going back. "I feel so empowered by my little tufts of hair," she says. "It’s my own little defiance, my Fuck You to society."
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Jacinda Pender, a 20-year-old college student living in Atlanta, GA is one of those people who just couldn't find the time to care about her body hair.

"As I get older, I don’t really take body hair seriously," Pender says. "I feel like people in general shouldn’t try to make it into a political statement. It’s there, move on, you know? It’s a personal preference of mine, which ties into laziness, to be truthful."
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Maeve W, a 27-year-old elementary school teacher in Salt Lake City, Utah, stopped shaving because she hated shaving — simple as that. Then one day, not thinking much of it, she posted a picture on social media of her armpit hair. But rather than getting the positive response she expected, she received a flood of hate. "I got crazy comments, [some] from men who were horrified at the sight of them," W says. "I even got threats of sexual violence."

But that didn't stop her. Instead, it made her even more determined to not let society police how she decides to groom herself. "That reinforced to me how provocative a small patch of hair could be when faced with a society that has such strict and unrealistic expectations of female beauty," she says. "After that, it felt important to keep being true to myself and hopefully inspire other people of all genders to feel good about their bodies regardless of what society thinks of them. Plus, it’s just way more convenient."
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For 25-year-old blogger Shawon Emeral Jones, shaving had always been a tedious task she kept out of habit. But then one time she forgot to buy razors at the store, and never looked back.

"You would think my response would be, Oh shoot, let me go grab a pack from the nearest store, but it wasn't!" Jones says. "I was actually relieved! From that moment on, I decided to 'forget' the razors every shopping trip."

And by ditching those razors, she's gained a new outlet for self expression. "I always say, when I'm feeling blue I like to add a pop of color," Jones says. "It started off as an accessory to match my hair, and now I like to use different colors to show off my carefreeness and maybe inspire others to grow their armpit hair if that is what they want."
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Straatmeyer, a track runner for the South Dakota School Of Mines And Technology, initially decided to stop shaving because she was simply too busy. For the runner, who competes in a tank top and shorts, that meant opening herself up to scrutiny on the field. "At first I felt super self-conscious like, What will they think?" Straatmeyer says. "A lot of my teammates at first were like, 'Oh my gosh, Addie, you literally don't shave!' A lot of people made comments."

However, that reaction ultimately taught her not to care what other people think. "I realized it's literally just armpit (and leg) hair," Straatmeyer says. "I'm here to RUN and be judged on how fast I can run, not to see who's shaved or not!"
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Monica Martelly, a 28-year-old jewelry and clothing designer living in Costa Rica, says that body positivity was what motivated her to stop shaving.

"I’m over people hating a part of their body that is natural," Martelly says. "I feel like body hair in general is a statement, or at least that’s how I’m using it. I can have something that the average person thinks is disgusting and make it appealing, because I am backing [it] up with self-love."

By frequently posting pictures of her body hair on social media, Martelly hoping to show other women that having body hair doesn't make you less beautiful. "It encourages other women to learn how to love and approve of every part of themselves," Martelly says. "It inspires other people when they see people living in their power. I know it inspired me when I first stop shaving."
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