Today this photo of this absolute bombshell Sophia Loren showed up in my feed.
Sophia Loren being her usual bombshell self and giving no fucks to what you think of her pit hair
As I sat there admiring her completely unfair sex appeal I noticed something. She had…. PIT HAIR!
I got hubby to take a look and he was convinced it was photoshopped. But as I looked at more and more photos of her I discovered she just didn’t seem to feel the need to rid herself of her underarm hair – or hide it.
Body hair is something that doesn’t actually phase me at all. I prefer to shave my legs when I am going to wear sheer stockings (or when they start to resemble wool stockings) and no matter how hard I scrub – I have to shave my underarms to get rid of the smell. But I have one glorious 70’s style bright orange bush…though I have to admit I seem to be thinning down there (time to invest in a merkin? or maybe hair plugs?). Many of my friends choose not to shave. Some because they really don’t care. Some because they are too busy doing things like having a career or running around after a bunch of kids and running a house. Some show their pit hair proudly as a feminist statement. As I said it doesn’t bother me one bit. As a staunch feminist (feminist meaning equal rights for all) I don’t see why women should *have* to shave. Especially to fit some stupid societal idea about what is CURRENTLY sexy.
Why “currently”. Let’s face it girls. As time changes what a women *should* look like also changes. Trying to keep up with it must be exhausting. From S bend corsets & bustles to tiny boobs to large boobs…With each fashion change comes a new expectation that women’s bodies should also change to fit the trend.
While looking at photos of the STUNNING Sophia I discovered some really awful websites. Showing close ups of pit hair “faux pas”…you know an olympic weight lifter (who managed to get to the olympics, lift more than my husband and I combined, while being half the size of me, having managed to get what limited funding there is in any women’s sport, train and qualify) being chastised for not shaving before the worlds stage (including one that actually tweeted an apology and as she was lifting she realised and freaked out) or a runner who had just beat the world record and was holding a flag above their head or an award winning star with a super close up to show the 4 tiny fair hairs she had missed while shaving. All these women were mocked. The comments of course were worse. Men declaring how repulsive they found women with body hair (though I can tell you all my friends with body hair, and 99% of those without would tell you they find men who try to control women’d bodies repulsive), women declaring how embarrassed they were for these women and a small few who were all “WTF?!?!. I am furious. These incredible women doing amazing things while some anonymous person who probably hasn’t done anything remarkable in their lives reducing these women to a tiny aspect of their appearance.
Caster Semenya who just won the women’s 800m race and beat the world record…but who cares PIT HAIR!!! (the website had to add an arrow though in case we couldn’t see how much she had “let herself go” – my most loathed phrase in the world)
I was sure one of my books mentioned that worrying about body hair was ridiculous and I was hoping that rather than laughing at their sometimes ridiculous and outdated ideas, that I could find something to back all this up. Now some of my books are still in storage so I can’t account for them all, but disappointingly this is what they had to say….
“The underarm area must be free from hair at all times. The hair holds the perspiration and odor and it is as necessary to remove it when coverup clothes are worn as during the obvious times when the area is exposed by bathing suits and other bare arm costumes.”
“Hair on the knees is unsightly and masculine. Whether the growth is heavy or slight, dark or light, it should be removed, leaving the leg smooth skinned and completely free of hair.”
- Secrets of Poise, Personality and Model Beauty by John Robert Powers
Now this book I was expecting – after all they were a modelling company. But I was so let down by what was to follow…
“Superfluous hair should be removed as regularly from the legs, especially below the knee, as it is from under the arms. How often will depend on you and how noticeable the hair is. There is nothing more unsightly than a grown girl wearing nylons with long hair poking out like a porcupine.”
-Charm & Poise for Getting Ahead by Ruth Tolman
Thanks Ruth…but I can think of plenty more “unsightly” things. Hey, maybe she lived a sheltered life?
“Nothing mars attraction so much as an ugly fuzz in the armpit”
- Woman’s World by Alleyne M. Jukes
This one made me sad. It is basically a “how to be a girl” handbook. It has everything from first aid to yoga, self defense to sports not to mention the usual beauty, charm and etiquette tips. How did the Australian woman in the 50/60s find the time for all of this? No wonder you hear about so many drunk housewives. I can barely get out of bed most days, let alone be everything to everyone and be immaculate all the time. My last hope had to be “Personality Unlimited” after all it has an entire chapter devoted to poop…surely it would be more accepting & open…
“Surely we are all awake to the necessity of keeping the underam free of any hair growth, not only for the improvement in appearance, but because such growths harbor the odor from even mild perspiration. But I find that there are many who still do not consider it important to keep the legs free of hair. Such women should be forced to wear heavy hose. If the are modern enough to demand silk stockings, then they should certainly prepare their legs so that no thick “forest” of hair is visible through the sheer fabric.”
- Personality Unlimited: The Beauty Blue Book by Veronica Dengel
So I decided not to get too worked up about it. Though women who choose not to rid themselves of the “horror” of “superfluous” body hair are still coping flack from guys who think our worth is based on whether or not they want to bone us we are making progress….and after all it is a relatively modern “fad” right?
NOPE!!! I was wrong again. This Jezebel article sheds some light on the history of female body hair removal which has apparently been around since the Neanderthals…
“Burke’s fascinating post on the subject (and her blog is chock full of goodness) begins all the way back in 1848 on the famous wedding night of Indisputably Great Thinker/Critic John Ruskin and his bride, the reportedly attractive Effie Gray. All was swell until it was time to do the deed, when Ruskin — a grown man, and not a boychild — was apparently so grossed out by “her person” that he gave her the Heisman and could not consummate the marriage.
Apparently this brilliant critic, ironically enough, known for emphasizing the connection between art and nature, could not spare even his beloved the wrath of his critical eye when he gazed upon her pubic hair. (Aside: Was it gross? Was it unruly? Did it harbor rodents? Was she menstruating? Was she a hermaphrodite? Is he a dick? Recent Ruskin biographers seem to think the idea he didn’t know what a woman looked like is absurd, and yet, no other explanation is offered.)”
Personally shaving my pubes makes me look like an infant. Seeing as how I am not really into that and it was itchy as fuck growing back – I only did it once. And if a man didn’t like it, well I would first ask him to wax his hairy balls. After that we might negotiate…but probably not.
I particularly liked this quote on femininity
” Femininity, as any woman can tell you, involves doing a shit-fuck-ton of alterations to the natural to arrive at this softer, less hairy, and therefore more alluring, self, a paradox feminists have typically argued is a distinctly modern problem. Or is it?”
I am a woman who prefers to look more “feminine”. I do it for me. I can assure you that not even when I was a teenager would I have gone through all that effort for the approval of others. Maybe it was just the way I grew up – from the time I was 9 I was a full time carer to a psychotic mother, had to deal with her various boyfriends who ranged from visiting my room at night to masturbate in front of me to ones who beat the crap out of me while drunk, while raising my baby brother and finishing year 10 (straight A’s except PE…which doesn’t count. After all I had my “period” for a whole straight year of classes………….
I love women. I love them in all shapes and sizes. In all forms of dress. With burns, scars, stretchmarks and birthmarks. With disabilities. Beautiful and bald (like my 10yo twinnies) to long luscious locks that trail behind them. Societies very narrow and often changing view on beauty don’t line up with my views. Some people when meeting me for the first time in person (because I meet everyone I end up being real friends with on the internet) appologise for their appearance compared to mine. It makes me sad as I dress, do my hair, shave and not shave to make myself happy and comfortable. I want my friends to feel the same. And I have friends who would feel absolutely ridiculous wearing my clothes.
If you do decide on hair removal please be safe. Don’t burn yourself with wax, always do a test on a patch of skin for depilatory creams and use a clean, rust free razor (best not to share just in case). And whatever you do don’t use this 12th century recipe…
“How to Remove or Lose Hair from Anywhere on the Body
Boil together a solution of one pint of arsenic and eighth of a pint of quicklime. Go to a baths or a hot room and smear medicine over the area to be depilated. When the skin feels hot, wash quickly with hot water so the flesh doesn’t come off.”
So this one picture sparked something inside me. I know it’s a controversial topic in the greater community, but I want to hear from you. With most of my books unpacked I hope to do more blogging soon. Steering back to the original purpose of this blog. Me trying to be charming and feminine and still being true to my feminist voice, while swearing like a sailor & talking about my 70’s bush, getting back into my “Sunday Best” posts and my “Wise Words” series. I also plan on finishing my travel series and giving you all the low down on hosting and being hosted over the holidays and talking about hats. With my first ever millinery collection from Miss Fairchild Millinery (go here to sign up for the mailing list) – a mini spring/summer collection using almost all vintage materials and techniques to make them.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me through the last year. It means a lot. But hopefully now I am back and with lots of goodies for you.
Miss Fairchild xoxo