Armpit hair to stay, some women say

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By XULIN xulin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Hun­dreds of Chi­nese women have joined a re­cent armpit self­ies com­pe­ti­tion on mi­croblog­ging ser­vice Sina Weibo, proudly dis­play­ing their un­shaven armpits.

Started by a pop­u­lar Sina Weibo pub­lic ac­count, the con­test is called “girls not pluck­ing armpit hair”. It en­cour­ages Chi­nese fe­males to post a photo of their armpit hair to demon­strate their nat­u­ral beauty, to echo sim­i­lar events over­seas.

These self­ies of pretty young Chi­nese women, with their un­der­arm hair ex­posed, have stirred hot de­bate on­line. Some ne­ti­zens said it’s gross to see such pho­tos, some be­lieve the pic­tures show the con­fi­dence and courage of Chi­nese women who want to chal­lenge so­cial norms.

Of the

more

than

6,400 re­spon­dents who par­tic­i­pated in a sur­vey on Sina Weibo, more than 70 per­cent said it’s bet­ter to shave armpit hair be­cause it will make one more beau­ti­ful, while oth­ers ar­gued that it’s nat­u­ral and healthy to keep the hair.

Many peo­ple think that per­sonal hy­giene or eti­quette dic­tate that women should shave their leg hair and un­der­arm hair. Men, how­ever, are con­sid­ered to be manly if they have hairy armpits, legs, arms and even chests— while women turn to epi­la­tors, shav­ing creams and ra­zor blades, to keep their legs and un­der­arms “fem­i­nine” and hair­less, just like a new­born baby.

Coco, a young woman who doesn’t want to re­veal her name, posted a photo of her armpit cov­ered with a piece of gauze. She said her armpit had been in­fected be­cause of pluck­ing, and she had to have it cut open and treated.

“What a les­son! I suf­fer a lot. I dare not pluck armpit hair again in my life,” Coco posted on her Si­naWeibo.

Another young par­tic­i­pant, Alice (not her real name), says she’s proud of her armpit hair and thinks it’s sexy, so she never shaves it.

“It’s healthy for young women to not shave un­der­arm hair. I think such point of view should be pro­moted via the con­test,” she says.

Ne­ti­zens in other coun­tries have ex­pressed sim­i­lar views.

Since 2012, an event in the United King­dom called Armpits 4 Au­gust has urged women to grow their armpit hair for a month to raise money for the char­ity or­ga­ni­za­tion Ver­ity, which does re­search and helps women suf­fer­ing from poly­cys­tic ovary syn­drome. One of its symp­toms is ex­ces­sive body hair growth.

In March, Amer­i­can pop singer Madonna posted a photo show­ing her un­der­arm hair on the photo-shar­ing so­cial plat­form In­sta­gram. Her photo cap­tion re­ferred to free­dom and revo­lu­tion of love.

“It’s eas­ier to hold an armpit hair con­test in China due to the cul­tural dif­fer­ences be­tween China and theUnited States,” says Lyu Pin, a Bei­jing­based women’s rights ac­tivist.

Lyu says that women in China only be­gan shav­ing their un­der­arm hair around 20 years ago. Even nowa­days, it’s not as pop­u­lar as many peo­ple think. But in the US, it’s some­thing of a taboo for women to have leg or un­der­arm hair.

“If peo­ple think you are not beau­ti­ful or have no eti­quette, just be­cause you don’t shave your un­der­arm hair, I don’t think they are do­ing the right thing,” she says.

“The de­ci­sion whether or not to shave your un­der­arm hair is re­stricted by so­cial norms,” she adds. “I don’t think Chi­nese have to learn from the Western­ers to shave their un­der­arm hair.”

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