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My confidence improved when I stopped shaving my armpits, here’s why

WORDS BY CAT FORSYTH

“I embraced my new tufts of hair with delight, finding that I felt empowered and comfortable in my body. It made me experience my femininity in a new way – a feeling that’s hard to explain but amazing to feel.”

The age-old trope of ‘date prep’, something that’s been portrayed in television shows and films for as long as I can remember, still stands. That iconic Legally Blonde scene or Cassie’s frantic beauty regime in Euphoria come to mind.


We like nosy people. Don’t be shy, head to our Beauty section for more. 


For many, trying to find an outfit that looks sexy but not too suggestive, washing and styling your hair and shaving are all a part of this elaborate process. These steps have always been a tried-and-true routine for me when it comes to going out. I know exactly what I have to do to feel ready for a first date. 

The realisation

I was in the shower, scrubbing away at my skin, conditioner in my hair, thinking about the date I was preparing for. It was the first time I was meeting this guy after chatting for a few weeks on a dating app. Possibly for the first time ever, it crossed my mind that I was putting an extreme amount of effort into getting ready for this date.

I had no intention of sleeping with him – we were simply doing dinner and a movie (note to self: don’t choose a three-hour movie for a first date. I’m looking at you, Batman.) But I still felt pressure to make my body perfectly smooth and hairless, despite knowing I would be wearing pants and a T-shirt. Disheartened, I thought to myself, “I’m going to all this effort and he’s probably not even going to brush his hair”.

This might sound unworthy of a revelation, but it truly was a prospect that had never occurred to me. Why are female-presenting people under so much pressure to be hairless and flawless when men aren’t expected to do the same? I shrugged the thought off and continued to primp and preen, before heading out on the date (which flopped, by the way). But the next day, it niggled at the back of my mind.

To shave, or not to shave?

For me, no longer shaving my armpits didn’t feel like a simple choice, like what to binge next on Netflix or order for lunch that day (although even those decisions can feel like too much sometimes!). It felt like a political decision, informed by decades of societal pressure and conditioning.

Like most women in the Western world, I learnt at a very young age that being hairless is the only way to be ‘sexy’. I vividly remember walking past a Brazilian Butterfly store as a kid and wondering what went on in there. Now, I’m nearly 21 but the idea that we must have no hair in order to be seen as desirable still persists.

What finally pushed me to stop shaving was the realisation that one of my closest friends doesn’t shave her armpits or legs. I’ve always perceived her as stylish and sexy – the fact that she doesn’t shave has never impacted the way I view her. I also admired her for not feeling pressure from her partner or anyone else to remove her body hair. I realised that if I didn’t judge my friend for choosing not to shave her underarms, maybe people wouldn’t judge me either.

Getting used to my new hair 

To my surprise, I embraced my new tufts of hair with delight, finding that I felt empowered and comfortable in my body. It made me experience my femininity in a new way, a feeling that’s hard to explain but amazing to feel. I finally felt like I was embracing myself wholeheartedly. I found that wearing singlets was actually fun with body hair. The hair was almost like a new accessory.

The real test came when I was invited to a wedding with a bunch of people I didn’t know, and I was wearing a backless, strapless dress. I asked my friend who had originally inspired me to drop the razor, and her perspective was reassuring. She simply told me to shake off that societal pressure. After all, it’s nobody’s business whether I have body hair or not. I’m proud to say that I countered those doubtful thoughts and didn’t even consider shaving my pits for the big day.

As the weeks went by and I grew even more comfortable with my new body hair, I found that there are multiple perks to quitting shaving. Obviously, it’s a time-saver – a particularly appealing fact if you’re feeling lazy. Previously, I used to dedicate so much time to shaving, moisturising and tanning my body, a routine I’d perform at least twice a week.

I soon stopped shaving my legs too, because I was becoming more secure in my body. My hair felt like a new layer to me – the more I became used to not shaving, the more my confidence increased. As someone who struggles with a multitude of insecurities, stepping outside my comfort zone has always been a terrifying concept.

But I’ve come to learn that the most significant growth happens when you’re uncomfortable (if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you and all that). Quitting shaving felt incredibly daunting at first, but it has been one of the most powerful steps I’ve taken towards genuine self-confidence. 

If you’re thinking about embracing your underarm hair, check out these iconic women who also put down the razor.

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