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Why these women are – and aren’t – shaving their armpits this summer

Bold or bare, these women are doing things their way with their body hair.

Body hair might be a concern in the summer, as you strip down to a bikini or bask on the beach. But, as new research from Dove reveals 62% of us feel insecure about our underarms, here’s why these three women are choosing to grow out or whip off their armpit hair, defying the weight of societal expectation.

Content creator and author, Megan Crabbe

What are you doing with your armpit hair this summer?

“I won’t be shaving my armpits this summer. I spent so many years shaving my underarm hair on auto-pilot – every shower from the age of 11 onwards came with a shave. I realised there was this part of my body that grows naturally. Letting my underarms grow is another small way of reclaiming my body in the face of misogynistic beauty standards,” says content creator and Dove ambassador Crabbe.

What do you think society expects?

“People expect women’s underarms to be smooth, hairless, and bright – that’s all we’ve seen for so long in advertising and media. I remember seeing so many magazine covers of slim white women with their arms up and barely an indent where their armpit should be, let alone any sign of hair or discolouration.

“If I’m in feminist or queer company, I know there will be less judgement, because those spaces are more understanding of bodily autonomy and letting go of societal expectations. ”

How do you see your summer body?

“I embrace seeing my body from all angles, in all forms, in any season, but it’s taken me a long time to get here. These days, I can see an image of myself in a bikini with visible cellulite, a stomach that isn’t flat and underarm hair flourishing and think, ‘Hey, that’s cute!’

“This particular body represents all of the battles I’ve fought – against diet culture, against anorexia, against beauty standards – and won.”

Content creator and makeup artist, Shahira Allen

What are you doing with your armpit hair this summer?

“This summer, I will be doing whatever the mood calls for with my armpits! Sometimes, I let the hair grow and other times, I like it smooth and clean-shaven. Either way, it will be my choice and I’ll make sure I feel confident and fabulous about my underarms this summer,” the creator explains.

What do you think society expects?

“A long time ago, society elevated women’s insecurities and made us believe no body hair on a woman is the way to be feminine. I think society expects me to spend money ‘maintaining my body’ in the most unrealistic way possible,” she says.

How do you see your summer body?

“I’m still learning to see my body in my 30s and it’s been a long journey. Some days, I love what I see and other days, I struggle with a roll, lump or bump. I deserve to soak up the sun and be happy, and I know there’s a young person out there who needs to see people like me being happy and thriving in our natural bodies.”

Body-positive content creator and LGBTQ+ activist, Katie Budenberg

What are you doing with your armpit hair this summer?

“I will be doing whatever I fancy on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes, I enjoy the feeling of smooth armpits and sometimes I think I look cool with bushes under each pit. I have been tempted to dye my armpits with the lesbian flag for Pride Month,” Budenberg laughs.

What do you think society expects?

“Society would rather not see me at all, and if they have to lay eyes on me, then I must be hairless from the eyebrows down – like a newborn baby, even though I’m a 25-year-old woman.

“Women are constantly made to feel like they have to be small, weak and hairless, and I refuse to satisfy this anymore; I will take up space, be unapologetically me, and hairy if I want to be,” she says.

How do you see your summer body?

“My summer body is ready to go. It’s Fed-Girl-Summer this year, where we satisfy our hunger cues, don’t worry about looking bloated and no longer feel the need to suck in our stomachs. I will never let cellulite, body hair or insecurities dictate whether I have a fun time or not again.”


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