Originally posted to Gender Focus August 19th 2013
For the month of August, women in the UK and all over the world (like me for example) are abandoning razors. Armpits 4 August is raising awareness and funds for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and sparking a larger conversation about gender norms and beauty practices, specifically with regards to underarm hair.
The reasoning behind it is pretty brilliant. A common symptom of PCOS is hirsutism, or excessive hair growth. So in addition to PCOS’s invisible symptoms like migraines, pain and infertility, many sufferers also have to deal with visible symptoms like hair growth, hair loss, weight gain and acne. By swearing off shaving for a month, participants demonstrate solidarity for some under-discussed problems– both PCOS and social pressure to conform to a standard idea of what is beautiful.
As is often the case, the political is personal in this campaign. A few of my friends have PCOS. And while I’m having fun rocking out my armpit hair and raising money for a good cause, my favorite part of Armpits for August is that it gives us a platform to discuss topics we might otherwise hide. As the A4A slogan suggests, it’s time to get our pits out. I’ll go first.