Societal Norms and Underarm Hair

Pink Armpit hair. My daughter wants the world to know her underarm hair is pink. 

I admit. It's not really my thing, but hey that’s okay. Just because it's not the norm, doesn’t mean it shouldn't be done.  That got me thinking. I mean, who set the standard that women need to shave anyway? 

Well, if Wikipedia can be trusted, this is how it all began: 

“Developments in three industries enabled a heavy and effective advertising campaign beginning in 1908 to show American people that female underarm hair was offensive. These industries were the male hair removal products industry, which had become recently commercially successful and sought to expand its market; the women's clothing fashion industry, which began producing sheer and sleeveless evening gowns and rising hemlines; and the mass production of women's magazines.[1]


It’s only been over the last 112 years of America’s history that women have been shaving. And it was all to make money. It may seem harmless to shave, but what damage has really been done? Believing we are all beautiful inside and out is hard enough as it is without the world creating standards to measure our beauty. 

Truth be told, I didn’t set out to learn this. Like so many others, I just went along with the expectation that I needed to shave to “look/feel pretty.”  But then I became a parent of a teenage daughter who is growing into a strong, independent, beautiful child of God. She is learning to challenge societal norms and express herself in ways that tend to shock. She is showing her independence and her confidence in who she is and who she is becoming. I am proud of her.  Her and her pink armpits.

In fact, I may not ever stop shaving my underarms, but I too have challenged societal norms in my life. I chose to homeschool my kids when the world told me not to. (Apparently, they wouldn’t be properly socialized if I didn’t send them to school). Again, it’s only been since the early 1900’s  that public education was the norm, yet it quickly became seen as the only right and perfect way. 

More recently, my approach to health care challenges societal norms. Eating whole foods, reading labels, eliminating toxins and wanting to build a strong immune system to heal my body of Hashimotos, is not the standard approach to medicine. Maybe because you can’t patent those things and there’s no money in it. The “normal” approach is to continue spending lots of money on processed junk food (the food industry loves this) and take a pill to cover up symptoms. It doesn’t take away my problem or make me healthy. Instead, I’m dependent on a drug for the rest of my life. And, most likely, that drug will have side effects and cause me to need another drug.  

I’ve also gone against the grain in my view on vaccines. Call me crazy, but just as the industries that convinced women to shave were only interested in making money, I believe the pharmaceutical companies behind drugs and vaccines are also motivated by money and power and don’t necessarily have the best interest of the people in mind. You may not agree with me on this, but can you see the pattern I’m trying to establish? 

Society is constantly establishing norms for us to follow and when someone bucks the system, it is shocking.  

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that parenting is a journey of transformation. I am continually challenged, stretched and humbled in new ways and I have a choice to lean into this transformation process or fight against it. I can be shocked when my children do things differently or I can be proud of their courage. I am choosing the latter.  It may mean I’m uncomfortable at times, because “that’s not the way I’ve always done it” but ultimately, I believe it will make me a better person.

After all, my kids are just walking in Jesus' footsteps. He dined with sinners, talked with Samaritans and "worked" on the Sabbath. All of which went against societal norms. Am I right, or am I right?

P.S. Kudos to my awesome husband for loving on his girl. He jumped in and said yes to his Abby's plan without a moments hesitation. Life is always interesting around here!

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