Armpits4August — Will You Go Hairy For Charity?

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Yn Gymraeg // Welsh version

Last year I participated in the Armpits4August campaign in an attempt to raise money for a Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) charity, Verity.

I had to do one simple thing: stop shaving my armpits for a month.

And yet the reactions I received were absurd and offensive — from family, friends and even strangers in the street.

Needless to say I didn’t raise a penny.

What is PCOS?

PCOS is pretty common, affecting millions of women in the UK, and occurs when cysts form on the ovaries.

Symptoms can include hirsutism (extra body hair), loss of head hair, irregular or missed periods and problems getting pregnant, but some women experience no symptoms at all.

What is Armpits4August?

Armpits4August is a month-long campaign that was set up to raise money for PCOS charity, Verity.

Women and self-identified women grow their armpit hair and ask their family and friends to sponsor them.

The campaign is also intended to challenge strict gender norms, e.g. women who have body hair are often considered masculine or ‘unfeminine’, due to the prevalent representations of hairless women in the media.

The Media

The cosmetics industry has succeeded in convincing women that the only way to feel empowered is to be hairless (see Venus’ implication that you must be hairless to be a ‘goddess’), and even supposedly pro-women company, Dove, feature only hairless women in their adverts.

Movember, the well-known campaign where men grow moustaches to raise money for prostate and testicular cancer, is widely participated in, with celebrities advocating it openly.

When Julia Roberts or Mo’nique dare to bare their hair on the red carpet, however, the world takes umbrage, and people cast aspersions on their personal hygiene and even their mental wellbeing.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m pro-choice when it comes to the body hair situation. I’d never suggest for a minute that shaving makes you ‘anti-feminist’, or in some way inferior. But the decision to shave has to come from within, and not from peer pressure or the media.

What I’ll be doing this year

One year on, I’ve still got my pit hair, and I’ve honestly never felt better about myself.

This year I’ll be dying it the suffragette colours (purple and green), as it’s also 100 years since 50,000 women converged in Hyde Park to protest for the right to vote.

My life is easier now that I don’t have to worry about shaving. I still wear the same clothes as before, my boyfriend is fine with it, and I don’t waste money on unnecessary products.

Plus I don’t have to contend with angry red armpits and itchy stubble rash.

In the words of Janet Fraser, “all that time I save in body hair removal I devote to revolution.

So, what do you think? Will you be participating in Armpits4August?

Click here to find out more about the Armpits4August campaign:

http://armpits4august.org/

For more information on PCOS, visit the NHS website:

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Polycystic-ovarian-syndrome/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Visit the Verity site here:

http://www.verity-pcos.org.uk/

If you want to buy badges or zines, have a look at Armpits4August’s etsy store here:

http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Armpits4August?ref=ks_wide

Image: akahmaid

Related Article: My Help 100 Charities Challenge

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