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The right to bare armpits

It may be all the rage to take part in the “anti-grooming movement,” but remember, you still get to choose.

I’ve often complained about how hard it is to be a woman in the summer. The upkeep goes to a brand new level, and I’m not just talking about being “bikini ready” or rocking a nice tan. I’m talking about grooming. And the options are not great. There’s shaving, which is supremely annoying and time-sucking. There’s waxing, which to me is brutality, and then there’s expensive laser hair removal, which, these days, makes the most sense.

But a lot of women lately are asking, is all of this necessary? Why do we do this? Why should we have to work this hard to look good and whose standards exactly are we trying to meet?

And the poking and prodding of this gender-based-societal standard has increased lately. Back in April, a photographer released a set of images of women with outgrown armpit hair, with discussions of “redefining beauty.”

And it’s true, American women weren’t shaving their armpits until like 1915 and ditto to their legs until the ’40s. So yes, clearly the norm began to change and women responded to it. Partly due to the change in fashion (sleeveless dresses, shorter dresses, etc.).

Although, as I see it, just because we didn’t always do it, doesn’t mean it’s not an improvement.

Recently, an ASU professor offered extra credit if students participated in an “anti-grooming movement” experiment where they would commit to a semester’s worth of gender-bending body hair practices: men having to remove their body hair from the neck down, and women having to let it all grow out.

But here’s where I want to push back a little. In the fury of redefining norms and bucking the system, have we overlooked the basic concept of what makes a woman feel the most confident, polished and put together?

Not everything is a commentary on societal standards. A lot of it can just be our own personal choice and isn’t that the most free thing of all? Dropping the idea of doing it for anyone but ourselves? I am absolutely all for equality and women’s rights, but it’s important to pause for a moment and realize that cultural standards change and shift over time, and that doesn’t mean conforming to them has to be a bad thing. That is, as long as it is what makes you feel beautiful.

More on beauty

Women share liberating pictures of luscious leg hair
I may be fat, but I beat my eating disorder
Why I want my daughter to see my armpit hair

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