Woman Hasn’t Shaved Armpits in 18 Months to Challenge Social Taboos

Emer O’Toole, a 28-year-old Irish journalist has created an Internet buzz after she appeared on a morning show and revealed her hairy armpits and legs. The confident young woman said she hasn’t shaved in 18 months, since she decided to challenge the notion that women must shave their body hair in order to be happy and feel attractive.

It’s true Emer isn’t the only woman in the world who doesn’t shave her armpits and legs, but in modern society, woman bodily hair is one very big social taboo. But the graduate student from Dublin started examining her relationship with her body and her body hair and realized she had first started shaving when she was 14 just because it was expected of her, not because she had to. So she decided to make herself the main protagonist of an experiment that would challenge society’s notions of female beauty. She simply stopped shaving her body hair for the last 18 months.

As you can surely guess, Emer O’Toole had a tough time getting used to her new look, and the way people stared at her every time she lifted her arms. Whether on the subway, hanging to the handlebars to keep her balance, or in a cafe waving to the waiter, the young woman had to deal with disgusted and surprised looks all the time. She admits to feeling awkward on several occasions, because certain outfits showed her hairy armpits a little too much, but then she started examining where her confidence and self-esteem were coming from. ‘If it’s my looks, and my self-esteem is linked to that, then I’ve realised I need to find other sources for that confidence. Your looks aren’t with you when you wake up in the morning if you have to put your make-up on first. And they don’t stay with you as you age’, the confident woman said on ITV’s “This Morning” show.

Emer says she is now almost entirely comfortable with her hairy armpits and legs, and didn’t think twice before showing them off on live television, when asked by the show’s hosts. She added that most men aren’t bothered by her hairy appearance, because they too have hairy armpits, but it’s usually women that are offended by her natural look. She isn’t letting her detractors affect her confidence in any way, though, and claims that even if her experiment was only meant to last for a year, she found she liked her body hair and couldn’t believe she had to reach 26 before even seeing what it looked like on her body. She may shave it at some point but she wants it to be a choice, not something she has to do.

In modern society, girls are conditioned to shave off their body hair and pluck their eyebrows, because if they don’t, they end up getting bullied by their peers, although nature has given them body hair. I like to think a woman has the right to do what she wants to do, but with society’s views on this matter being what they are, do women actually have a choice? In a poll created by ITV’s morning show, 80% of voters didn’t agree with Emer and thought she should shave her armpits and legs.


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Feedback (10 Comments)

  • Karen Posted on May 8, 2012

    I liked her until she said that your looks “…don’t stay with you as you age.”

    She’s fighting one stereotype while promoting another.

    Bah!

  • Sahar Posted on May 9, 2012

    Honestly! From all the different taboos that actually really affect people’s lives, she chooses this one?
    We shave to be cleaner! It’s not just a beauty factor. Try not removing the hair from your arm pits for a month during warmer months and you will hate the way you sweat and stink.
    Being clean is not a taboo! and not all women shave all the time, but if you wanna have hairy armpits, there is no reason for you to share your sweaty smell with everyone else.
    I see many ladies with hairy armpits here in Berlin. It’s a trend. They can decide what they want to do with their body hair, but when the lady next to me on the bus raises her arm to hold the bar, and I see drops of sweat on her hairy smelly armpits, I am disgusted.

    Find a better stereotype to fight my dear.

  • Allagree Posted on May 10, 2012

    Sahar………Shaving DOES NOT make you cleaner. Soap makes you cleaner. Hair makes no difference to how you smell. Women naturally have hair. Women naturally sweat. It’s called being human. If you find this disgusting that is your problem not hers.

  • Danny Crouch Posted on May 10, 2012

    I would be dissappointed if she sat next to me on the train.

  • Pierre Posted on May 14, 2012

    @Sahar, with alum stone, you will sweat less, it’s a natural product to be used everyday and you ‘ll never stink, even in the summer. Soap + alum stone and you are ok.
    If shaving was hygienic, then doctors would prescribe removing hair. AFAIK, this is not the case.
    @Danny, my wife doesn’t remove any of her body hair and no hair of her body is a problem for me.
    Why may men keep their body hair but women have to shave it off ? This is typically double standard.
    Keep on Emer, you rock. ;)

  • Jordan Posted on May 28, 2012

    You should shave to be sanitary. At least wax your underarms, and wax/shave from the ankle to your knee. That’s just gross.

  • Sastry.M Posted on June 19, 2012

    As a woman who gives birth to both male and female babies under motherhood Emer O’Tool is absolutely right in defending her natural body out look.As a rep of mother Earth who sprouts all life forms.sustains and supports in a natural order,so are the human feminine bodies biologically designed to deliver and sustain human race.Consider the following points as comparison of signatures:
    1) all plants(sanskrit=Vanaspathi) which provde food and nourishment as cereals and vegetables grow tall and so are hairy scalps of head which controls all biological functions.
    2)the terrestrial plains are mostly covered by short and smooth green grass,like Vanaspathi incl. creepers(=Latha) which are primary converters of converting earthly nutrients into food products using solar energy, the small grass protects nutritive erosion. Similarly fine body hair ‘vellum’ generally spread to protect skin by throwing out toxic waste accumulated on skin as a result of oxidation in burning process for releasing energy in body.
    3) the bushes(=Gulma) which grow on particular area patterns (matrixed) are short,thick and stubby, and provide aromatic flowers as well as medicinal ingredients. Similarly the thick ‘terminal’ hairy matrices under arm pits and pubic girdles of either gender are programmed for shorter times compared to scalp hair. Similar to vegetation around oases in deserts the thick hairs suck out waste matter from skin areas covering water logged parts such as dense sweat glands under arm hollows, and urinal (male) as well as uterine ( pregnant female sacks ) bladders under pubic area.
    4) in general the fat in hair follicles probably maintain fat soluble vitamins for skin nourishment and provide access to throw out toxic matter through sweat glands around them. All these features are excellently incorporated as required by the highly evolved human beings.
    5) May God bless Emer with her confidence in facing all odds of distorted criticisms and resolve to re establish natural human beauty and rational wisdom which is lost to earth’s present day polluted environment mutilated by synthetic aesthetics.

  • Biraj Bose Posted on July 2, 2012

    I would like to contact personally Ms Emer O’ Toole. How can I proceed? I do support the views of keeping body hairs in female. I would also like to form a group worldwide who sport their body hairs.

    My E-mail> vraj707@gmail.com, vraj_007bpo@rediffmail.com

  • Mark Wills Posted on July 5, 2012

    I am an American male, and I think she is hot, I would marry her have kids with her, she is smart, nice eyes, I don’t mind she don’t shave, it will save me tons of money we can use to buy cool things with, you shave, then you pour money down the drain!

  • blakbush Posted on July 5, 2012

    This is an ongoing debate. To shave or not. Some people presume that medieval women did not shave armpits or pubes. This is a wrong notion. They had their own tools. Yet I must say that it is a matter of choice. If we maintain the body hair clean by regular wash, it is okay with the woman or man concerned. Yes, they must wash it regularly. Let them have a full dense bush that they shave only on birthdays , or never. But they must keep it clean. It is a woman’s choice. It is not for men to dictate terms.