Pits out for the girls
As I was scrolling through Tumblr, I came across photos of a new, rather strange, fashion trend far more unusual than the “far-out there trends.” Some women are dyeing their armpit hair, sometimes to match the colour of the hair on their head. Media outlets such as the Washington Post and Huffington Post have speculated as to whether this bizarre trend is a fashion fad or a new radical demonstration of modern feminism. Whether fad or feminist movement, dyed armpit hair serves a purpose to enlighten North American culture to be skeptical of the beauty standards the media tout as necessities of living, and what are simply commercialized cosmetics.
Recently, one of my male friends said that women and men have neutral equality in our North American society and that there is no more need for new radical demonstrations of feminist movements to exist. I objected to the statement he made, as there are extreme physical beauty requirements placed on women, which I consider to be sexist. North American beauty standards are seen as a basic necessity for women, but places such as Europe see them to be obscure. Take shaving armpits for example. The social standard for women to shave their armpit hair is of North American cultural standards only. It is seen in our culture to accept shaving armpit hair as an essential part of hygiene and rather distasteful to let our bodies exhibit their natural tendencies. It is also only “gross” for women to have armpit hair, while it is perfectly acceptable for men to let theirs grow out.
Dyed armpit hair exposes the conformity women follow by, in contrast, appropriating the fashion alternative of women growing out their armpit hair and dying it. By women making dyed armpit hair a fashion statement, it allows for North American society to become more comfortable with the fact that women naturally grow armpit hair just like men. Neon pink armpit hair can remind people of the sexist beauty standards placed on women and question whether it is actually “gross” for women to let their hair naturally grow on any part of their body. Many people in North American societies need to get used to the notion that women shouldn’t have to uphold unrealistic and expensive beauty standards, especially the ones that men aren’t expected to follow.
I don’t see myself growing out and dying my armpit hair, but I wouldn’t choose to wear a religious symbol around my neck or a political party button on my jacket either. I do, however, associate myself as supporter of feminist movements, like the 1968 Bra Burning Miss America Protest. Many of the women following the movement did not burn their bras, but instead decided they are not needed for them to conform to the high expectations of idealistic beauty set for them.
Dyed armpit hair can act as a physical symbol of how women shouldn’t have to feel compelled to consume the cosmetic products advertised to them as the daily essentials. Instead it can exist as a fashion fad while also expressing an underlying tone of feminist movements as a suggestion to re-evaluate what is essential to our cleanliness and what is really an added cosmetic.