Armpits4August is a month long charity event for cis and trans women, which started in August 2012.
Participants will grow underarm hair for one month, and get friends and family to sponsor them to raise money for Verity, the charity for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) sufferers.
PCOS is something a lot of women have, but it’s hardly ever talked about. A common symptom of PCOS can be hirsutism (excessive hair growth), so by growing our body hair we are working towards having pride in our body hair, not shame. Armpits4August will provide a stimulus and safe space to discuss women’s often complicated, emotional, or embarrassing experience of body hair. We believe the shame a lot of women feel about their body hair is a consequence of living in a society that regulates, controls and dictates that women’s bodies must conform to incredibly narrow beauty standards. This creates a physically, socially, and mentally damaging image of what is ‘natural’ – an image that turns out to be no more than an idea. There is no standard, universal, typical – let alone ‘normal’ – pattern of body hair for women. We think that the display of underarm hairgrowth in August 2012 will be one way of demonstrating this, so we will also construct an online archive of photos to show the diversity of hair that we have: colour, shape, density, texture, speed, etc. We will also be providing you with resources for other creative events to celebrate your body hair, such as body hair mapping, pit pamper parties, discussion groups, and more!
We acknowledge that not every woman has the same opportunity to take part in Armpits4August and that in a racist, sexist, transphobic and lesbophobic society, some women, especially some women of colour or transsexual women, may simply not have the option to grow their body hair as a political act without it having personal consequences, such as increased harrassment or having treatment withheld. We hope that, if this and similar campaigns are successful in changing social attitudes about body hair and femininity, it will become easier in the future for more and more women to participate.
We welcome comment, debate, encouragement and criticism on twitter, the facebook group or via email, especially from women who have experienced the intersections of oppression (race, class, gender, ethnicity, ableism, sexual orientation etc.) differently/additionally to ourselves, and are keen to engage with critiques of the limitations of such a project as well as its benefits in order to make it as inclusive as possible. We do not, however, welcome any attempts to tell us that post-pubescent women with body hair (no matter how much) are disgusting, unhygienic, ‘un-natural,’ etc. Nor will we accept any form of misogyny, sexism, racism, homophobia, classism or any anti-feminist/trans/queer rhetoric or other such hateful speech: these comments and emails will be deleted.