I know there’s a lot of things to worry about nowadays: climate change, economic turbulence; but every now and then an issue comes along that’s really important. This is just one such time: drop everything, because – and I don’t want to alarm you unduly here, but we have to face facts – a model has been photographed with visible armpit hair.
I know: this is big. I’ll give you a moment to reel from the shock.
The model in question is Emily Ratajkowski, who you probably know best from her role as “nude lady” in Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” video. That was the part that rocketed her to sort-of-stardom, and she is now using her profile for good, with an essay in Harper’s Bazaar in which she mused on various issues, including feminism, sexuality…and armpits. The essay was accompanied by a photo in which Ratajkowski’s hirsute underarm was prominent: the kind of radical feminist statement that is calculated to inflame the masses and set the ball of momentous social change rolling.
The model commented on her decision to flaunt the fur, writing, “If I decide to shave my armpits or grow them out, that’s up to me”, Whoa. Take THAT, patriarchy!
Naturally, such a bold move set the internet alight with furious debate. Some lauded Ratajkowski for her courageous non-conformity, praising her honesty and saying she is “using her privilege to fight for individual freedom and destroying beauty dogmas” (yes that is an actual quote from an actual person).
Others were less impressed, calling the move “unhygienic” and “not womanly”, scarcely believing that a beautiful woman like Ratajkowski could lower herself to the level of a common brute.
In the end, of course, whether you believe that displaying her armpit hair makes her the feminist icon we need to finally bring about an age of true equality, or that it is a sign of depravity that is likely to obliterate the fragile social order that separates us from the beasts, the important thing is that we’re finally talking about this most crucial of issues.
Because what could be more important than a model’s underarm hair? What could be more significant, in this day and age, than one extremely attractive woman in lingerie’s decision to show or to not show a small patch of hair in her armpit? We may disagree on whether it is morally right or reprehensible, but we can all agree that either way, it matters enormously. Sure, you can say it’s just armpit hair. You can say nobody cares. You can say this is mind-blowingly tedious. You can say that as idiotic as it is to think that in the 21st century a woman should feel ashamed to show her armpit hair, it’s pretty much equally idiotic to think that doing so is any kind of brave blow for social justice, and that both sides of this “debate” are embarrassingly stupid.
But I would never say any of those things. I say, let’s stop ignoring the vital role that pit hair plays in our civilisation, and please, please, please never stop talking about it.