NOVEMBER: a month when many the hairy man emerges from summertime slumber to participate in the yearly revival of the Movember contest. A celebratory display of fuzzy body hair in the name of charity is a given for many men during November, and now it seems, perhaps for women too. It’s time to meet Movember’s feminist little sister, #Noshavember. Like her brother, she says to hell with razors, but with one key twist – you don’t have to be a Mo-bro to take part.
...all that extra foliage is making me sweat and smell more.
At a time when women are plagued with social rules and regulations over how they should present their bodies, I decided to see what all the body hair fuss was about by taking on the Noshavember challenge. So, for 30 days, I pledged to reject razors and document my no-shaving experience.
Relax – it’s just underarms... nothing further south (so no need to shield your eyes mum).
As someone who would rather wear a bin-bag then go out with unshaven armpits, it’s safe to say that this challenge isn't going to be easy. So, the first hurdle is to recruit the unconditional support of my nearest and dearest.
“That’s disgusting!”, “F*ck yeah, feminism!” and “I don’t think you should do that…” are amongst the varied responses I receive, although the general consensus seems to be “Ew.” Call me naïve, but I hadn’t prepared myself for such a level of revulsion. One friend even warns me “not to go out in public with hairy pits on show.” My response: lighten up. It's a fun social experiment and I'm curious, partly to see how others will react to me and partly to witness just how hair-endous I could be after over a decade of shaving.
Still, it's easy to shrug off this disapproval with just one-week old stubble barely visible beneath my arms. However, if I'm going to do this, if I'm going to let it grow and document my progress with shameless selfies, that is exactly what I’m going to do. Just as soon as I’ve worked out how to get the most flattering camera angle for pappin' my pits (SPOILER ALERT: there are none). Roll on week two...
My barely-there hair is looking a little more obvious, and, sadly, the growth has predictably been accompanied by an increase in giggles and embarrassment at my task - both from myself and my peers. Still, the drop in temperature has given me the perfect excuse to hide my underarms in snugly layers.
But in a bid to push myself, I decide to debut my new fuzz at a circuits class at the gym. But what I hoped would be a chance to bare all was actually the complete opposite. I spend half the class with my hoody on and when I do finally take it off, I make damn sure my arms stay firmly by my side (which is no mean feat in a full-body exercise class). The truth is I feel ridiculously self-conscious of the potential reactions of the other gym bunnies.
So, tucked away in the corner of the changing room, a friend captures my first progress shots. When I see the pictures, I laugh, a little relieved. Inner voices had me imagining wolverine-esque tufts sprouting from my pits when in reality my sprinkle of hair is hardly noticeable. Is this tiny gathering of stubble really worth all that fuss?
Three weeks in and my armpit hair is making a bid for freedom. It’s growing at an exponential rate. Get ready for a gross overshare ladies: all that extra foliage is making me sweat and smell more. I can’t wear tight tops more than once and I'm using a lot more deodorant than I usually do. Yummy.
Now week three offers a third revelation: confidence in my new hair largely depends on the reactions of others. After an elaborate stretch in the office exposes my underarms to a disinterested male colleague, I found myself feeling fairly relaxed about my hairy situation. That is until a fellow female colleague catches sight and shrieks. Now I just feel gross.
Despite (too much) cringing and complaining, I have made it to the end of the fourth week of November without shaving my pits (hurrah!). I'll admit, there were a couple of moments where I didn’t think I’d make it, but here I am, 28 days later with the pits that mother nature gave me.
My four-week razor ban has taught me that it’s not the armpit hair I dislike, it’s how people react to it. Yes a flash of hair where you used to be bare takes a little getting used to, but it was the reaction of my loved ones and peers that made the situation most uncomfortable.
There’s no issue with guys growing out their underarms, so why was I made to feel like such a freak when doing the same? Bloody societal norms eh (*shakes fist*). Though I'd set out to challenge my own attitudes to body hair, it was the attitude of others which turned out to be the real problem.
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