The Hairy Debate: To Shave or Not to Shave?

My general belief is that for any gender, it should be your own decision to do whatever you want to your body. Only you are the one in control of your body, and no one should force you into doing anything you do not want to. Despite this belief, in reality women in particular face pressures to shave their body hair.

I, amongst others, wish to seek the reason behind why so many people find it repulsive when a person has made the personal decision not to shave their armpits.    


According to an article by Vox, women in the early 20th century did not care about shaving their armpits, and it would not be surprising if a woman had long body hair. The debate of shaving is a very modern issue, most likely developed as a result of the loosening rules around how females dress, and the development of razor technology. By the 1950s, legs and underarms were targeted in ads and many women were encouraged, even expected, to be smooth, silky and stripped. 

Thankfully, as we entered the 21st century, it became more common for women to not feel like they have to shave, and many women now embrace the ‘au natural’ look. It is more common to see celebrities with unshaven arms, and many women feel more comfortable talking about it.

However, due to the controversial history of the matter, there is still, and probably always will be,  disagreements surrounding the debate. 


No matter how much you may have convinced yourself, when you see an image of a woman with long underarm hair you will subconsciously notice this and form an opinion on it. Yet, if it was in the case of our male counterparts, the reaction is very minimal. 

I am guilty of doing this myself. A friend of mine recently decided to grow out her underarm hair and I naively pointed this out to her. Whilst I am completely supportive of her decision, I still brought attention to it. Why? Because, I suppose I wasn’t expecting it. Because it is still not the norm.

It is seen as powerful and inspirational when a woman chooses to grow out her underarm hair. I think that a statement is made and it takes a lot of confidence and bravery. From experience, people may pass comment. I personally choose not to shave my leg hair, and I have faced so much judgement from this decision in the past. Am I not womanly enough? Does body hair really change a person’s appearance that much? 

The solution is just not to say anything at all. Some people may think it is funny to pass comment, but it can really make someone feel insecure and pressured into shaving their body hair.

Of course, some women do prefer to be shaved and smooth. It is a luxury that can make you feel more confident, with many perhaps not finding their own body hair attractive. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this either. 

Shaving your body hair will always be your own personal choice. No matter what anyone says, it doesn’t make you any different whether you have body hair or not, as long as you are shaving your body hair for YOU and YOU only. All women should support each other in the fight against the stigma of armpit hair. 

Lauren Woodley

Image credit: Fox News