Female body hair is becoming more visible in popular culture and, while the issue has been around for decades, the new enthusiasm for hirsuteness has a 21st-century twist
I am usually late to catch on to shifts in the zeitgeist; this one came to my attention just recently. While watching the HBO show High Maintenance, I noticed that Lee, the protagonists hip and beautiful love interest, was sporting hairy armpits.
Look! I cried to my husband, as though Id unexpectedly spotted a T-shirt emblazoned with the name of my favorite obscure band. For the past couple of decades, I have seldom shaved my armpits. Now, all of a sudden, I was on-trend.
Among both celebrities and the masses, female body hair is sprouting all over. Ilana of Broad Cityhas exposed her underarm growth; so have Jemima Kirke and Zazie Beetz. In January of this year, Laura Jackson, a British college student, ran a campaign called Januhairy, urging women to grow out their body hair and post selfies on Instagram.
In some ways, this phenomenon harks back to the second wave movement of the 1960s and 1970s, when feminists began to challenge restrictive beauty standards. At a famous march outside the 1968 Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, protesters ceremoniously discarded their bras and stiletto heels; many feminists of that era also ditched their razors and tweezers. But todays renewed enthusiasm for female hirsuteness comes with a distinctly 21st-century twist.
Unshaven women in 2019 often meet other criteria for traditional feminine beauty they have sculpted eyebrows, wear lipstick or sexy lingerie while proudly displaying their armpit hair. If the ethos of the 70s was a refusal to spend time and effort on cosmetics, the more common approach today is for women to curate different elements of their appearance, remaining conventionally attractive while deploying body hair as a feminist fuck-you: half-statement, half-ornament.