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I think it’s ridiculous to find underarm hair gross.

There. I said it.

We’ve been told that it’s a gross thing to have on women, specifically. Whereas for guys, it’s totally okay “as long as you trim it”. To women, underarm hair is considered unhygienic, make you more likely to smell bad, and aesthetically displeasing.

It’s really weird, considering that before 1915, women everywhere in the modern world had zero inclination to shave their underarms. It wasn’t an issue with people, until an ad appeared in an issue of then-upscale Harper’s Bazaar which told women that their underarm hair was indeed, a hairy problem.


Harpers Bazaar 1915

That’s right, your underarm hair was literally deemed “objectionable” because of a marketing campaign in a women’s magazine. The message took root and sprouted quickly, and within the next three months, women all over America were shaving like they were doing it all their lives. Not surprisingly, the sales of sleeveless dresses subsequently exploded. Prior to that, sleeveless dresses weren’t the norm because of modesty issues. Weirdly, I wonder why modern dancing didn’t take root in every woman’s life.

Not just a double standard…

On a serious note though, I view the idea of shaving underarm hair as a move against women, mostly because it replaced a long-held misgiving (sleeveless dresses are not modest) with another horrid obligation (shave your underarms because your hair is ghastly). In fact, reasons like personal hygiene only came about after the fact, and was not even an initial reason.

Underarm waxing is a huge beauty routine for women.

Underarm waxing is a huge beauty routine for women.

I mean, think about this: If underarm hair was truly a key cause for bad smells, why aren’t there more men stinking up the MRT? After all, men seem to be exempt from the need to remove underarm hair. In fact, we walk around in our singlets without a care while women have to make sure they have no underarm “stubble” before they leave the house sleeveless. Talk about gender biases and inequality, right? If that doesn’t come across as some bullshit gender stereotyping, I don’t know what is.

Now also think about this: No matter how hairless you are, try going around in the sweltering humidity that is Singapore’s weather without a shower for two days, and tell me if you smell bad. If you don’t, I’ll find you a unicorn.

You see, the fact is that women are expected to be these smooth, hairless, fair-skinned creatures. The truth is, they’re highly evolved apes, just like men are. We all have hair somewhere, and we all smell funny if we don’t keep clean.

So go ahead, shave your underarms, but don’t ever think for one second that you’re any grosser if you don’t.

He Says, She Says is a monthly column by Kenneth (he) and Carrie (she).

This month they discuss if underarm hair on women is gross or not. Click this box to find out what a woman thinks.