With every bikini season, the age-old argument about female body hair begins anew as the general public rediscovers that — quelle horreur! — not every woman shaves and waxes herself to Barbie-like perfection. Earlier this summer, you may recall a certain international pop star (and recently-welcomed member of the queer community) who made headlines for her stand against the stigma. I'm talking about when Miley Cyrus dyed her armpit hair pink, of course, and as soon as I heard about her massive "eff-you" to the body hair haters out there, I knew I had to do the same. But how to dye your armpit hair? It was a whole new beauty venture I'd never really considered.
Before we begin, I should note that I had an ulterior motive for following in Cyrus's footsteps, beyond the fact that it seemed like fun. Believe it or not, I absolutely hate body hair. I started shaving my legs in sixth grade, after years of whining finally wore my mother down. I consider it a victory when I succeed in ignoring my leg hair for two days in a row, and the very thought of armpit hair makes me cry inside.
Being raised in a feminist household, however, has made me very aware that this is probably the product of conditioning from a patriarchal society that expects women to be hairless sex dolls, while men are considered "metrosexual" (ugh) for so much as clipping their toenails. Do I hate body hair as a personal preference, or is it the symptom of internalized Western beauty standards?
When Cyrus dyed her pits pink (or "pank," as she termed it), I saw it as the perfect opportunity to settle the question once and for all. I would grow out my armpit hair, no matter how painful it was to put down the razor every day, and in the process, I would hopefully discover whether society was to blame for my hatred of body hair. So take a journey with me, dear readers, into a period of time I like to call "What Is My Life? The Sequel," aka that time I taught the Internet how to dye their armpit hair.
Step 1: Grow Out Your Underarm Hair (Duh)
It's pretty obvious, but beware: this is much more painful than you'd expect. Well, it's more itchy than physically uncomfortable, but forcing yourself not to shave is surprisingly difficult.
Step 2: Get Yourself Some Bleach
Any time you want to dye your hair an unnatural color like pink or, in my case, blue, you'll need to bleach it. Underarms are notoriously sensitive areas of the body, so I used facial bleach on mine. You should be able to find some at your local grocery store or pharmacy!
Step 3: Bleach Those Suckers
Be sure to read the instructions on your bleach; mine said to leave the lightener on for 10 minutes and reapply if needed. If you're blonde like Cyrus, you probably won't need much lightener, but if you have coarse, dark hair like me, you'll have to leave it on for a while. Keep your arms above your head as much as you can; I ended up laying on the floor with my arms stretched out overhead while watching Parks and Recreation.If it starts to itch or burn, by the way, take it off immediately. If everything goes smoothly, check the color of your armpit hair by wiping off small sections — once it's a pale blonde color, you're ready to go!
Step 4: Rub-a-dub-dub
If you feel like taking a shower to get the bleach off, go ahead. I'm incredibly lazy, though, so I just wiped it off with a damp washcloth. If it's still not pale blonde, reapply the bleach and get back to that Parks and Recreation marathon.
Step 5: Apply The Color
Step 6: Rub-a-dub-dub, Part II
I left one armpit to process for the full recommended time, and that color turned out incredibly dark. When I dyed the other underarm, I made sure to check the color every few minutes, and I washed out the dye when it got to the peacock-blue I was aiming for.
Step 7: Enjoy Your Fabulous New Armpits
Congratulations! You can now say you have something in common with Miley Cyrus and, more importantly, me. Enjoy your life with candy-colored armpits. Just make sure you warn your mother before she finds out on her own, unless you want to witness the look of confusion morph into resignation in person.
"But Claire!" I can hear the masses crying out. "What did you decide about your body hair's relationship with feminism? Your personal life is so important to me!"
Thank you for your concern, theoretical readers, and don't fret. I did come to a decision, although it wasn't what I expected. I was a little wary of wearing sleeveless tops in public at first, but I quickly got over the judgmental stares. Believe me, there were a lot of those. The reaction of strangers wasn't what annoyed me so much about growing out my underarm hair. It was my own reaction to it. Sorry, my feminist sisters, but it turns out I just really hate body hair.
That being said, I think I'll wear my peacock-blue armpits proudly for at least a few days. Come on, you can't tell me they don't look awesome, especially with that rainbow face paint I was sporting.
Images: Giphy (5), Claire Warner (4)