Embrace your Armpit Hair & Smell: Science Says So
People are covered in bacteria
Fucking covered. In fact, we are more bacteria
than anything else but the neat thing is that it’s meant to be there,
completely harmless, and actually beneficial to our immune system. From a scientific perspective it’s called microflora and without it, we would have mega inflammatory issues and autoimmune issues which can leave us susceptible to illness.
Maybe contrary to popular belief, our armpits are very clean compared to other body parts. We should be more concerned about our hands and wash them WITH SOAP frequently during the day… but anyway. Being overly clean with our other body parts, such as our armpits can do more harm than good. The “hygiene hypothesis
” is a theory that says that our obsession with cleanliness is actually contributing to things such as issues with inflammatory disorders, asthma, autoimmunity, allergies, and much more. So, from a bacteria point of view… keep it.
Armpit hair can aid in the production of odor. Duh, right?
We use things like deodorant but these smells are actually there for a reason and are the unique fragrance for each person. Aka your armpits are like snowflakes or vulvas 😉 The hair seems to exist in this particular area because of the high concentration of sebaceous glands, which are the glands that produce sebum which waterproofs the skin. We also have these glands on the face, around the female areola, and around the genitals… Pretty much everywhere but the palms of hands and bottoms of our feet. They aid the body in protection against germs AND androgens such as testosterone have been shown to stimulate secretion, and estrogens have been shown to inhibit secretion.
You Smell… Good
Being “stinky” may not seem ideal, but this odor is actually REALLY important as it aids in building relationships with others, especially from a romantic perspective. Your natural perfume can help with trust and love.
Women are actually subconsciously attracted to the way men smell because it helps women identify a complementary histocompatibility complex (MHC
) which fits well with their own.
Which leads to an issue with masking these scents that have been deeply ingrained in us. I remember being in 3rd-grade music class and having my teacher pointed out that “someone among us” had a distinct smell that day and it might be time for us to talk to our parents about buying us deodorant. In my head, I didn’t think I was even close to going through puberty
and we had just left gym class… so there was a pretty big disconnect.
Antiperspirant is used to stop sweating
and usually stops the apocrine glands in your armpits. Deodorant is a smell masker and usually kills the bacteria that makes you smell. There was a study done by Julie Horvath,
an associate research professor at North Carolina Central University, she was interested in finding out if deodorant and antiperspirant were linked to different patterns of bacterial growth in the armpits.
Turns out that, in fact, they do affect your bacteria and how much is there.
- People who used clinical strength antiperspirant had blank dishes, meaning NO bacteria.. not good.
- Those who used deodorant had a combination of different types, some good some bad.
- Those who did not wear anything had an abundance of corynebacterium, which produces body odor and helps the body defend pathogens.
If hair makes us more attracted to others because of scent and makes us less susceptible to disease then why are we so repulsed by it?
A study published in Psychology of Women Quarterly Breanne Fahs
about women’s body hair found that women thought shaving was only a minor inconvenience and was a personal choice, but had an overwhelming response that body hair on themselves or others was disgusting. The professor who conducted the study went as far as to assign extra credit for her female
students if they would keep a diary for 10 weeks and not shave their armpit or leg hair and it had a pretty negative response from students, mothers, and partners. The author concluded that the compulsion to shave is an example of how women have internalized patriarchal ideals of femininity.
The emotional disgust
is one that causes us to want to withdraw from the situation and causes our faces to create a distinct expression: closing nostrils, raising the upper lip and sometimes lowering the lower lip and tongue extension.
Armpit hair on female causes disgust? Seriously?
From an evolutionary perspective, we are disgusted by things that are bitter, gross, or taboo
. It seems that we have trained ourselves to hate armpit hair on women, meaning it’s purely cultural. Our western society places a high value on hairlessness and it’s almost synonymous with cleanliness.
The Catch 22