I never see armpit hair coming. I’m just living my life and all of a sudden, wham, it’s right there. This week, while visiting my father on Cape Cod, I took a yoga class. I immediately noticed that the teacher was quite chunky around the middle – not exactly what you hope to see in an exercise instructor. Maybe she subscribed to the theory, “those you can’t do, teach.” Anyway, she began the class and a short while later came over to correct one of my postures. And that’s when I saw them – long sprouts of brown hair poking out from under her arms. It’s always a little startling to see female armpit hair, as if the person is naked or something.
I really should be used to his. My mother has always been a bit of a nature girl (o.k. a whole lot of nature girl). In middle school, I started noticing many of my friends had smooth, shiny legs. I looked down at my own blond hairy limbs and decided to take action. If I couldn’t beckon puberty, at least I could have silky legs and wear short shorts. My mother encouraged me not to do it. She warned me that if I started shaving, my hair would grow back thicker and coarser, creating a lifelong, tedious obligation. I took the plunge anyway and have been happily using my pink Daisy razors ever since.
As I was planning my wedding, the issue of body hair once again came up with my mother. I had helped my mom find a beautiful champagne colored dress with spaghetti straps for the nuptials. The only sticking point – her underarms. Like the yoga instructor, she has always embraced her natural state. But my wedding did not have a bohemian theme. I very politely asked my mom if she would be willing to shave her armpits for the first time in 59 years. She was. I thanked the bridal gods.
I really respect my mother’s choices. It’s hard for me to imagine being so comfortable in my body that I wouldn’t care if I shaved or plucked my eyebrows or put on make-up. My mom has always focused more on the inside of people than the outside and perhaps that’s what beauty is all about. I wonder what choices my own daughters will make. Dylan is almost three and she’s already digging into my make-up bag and painting her toes. But she’s probably just copying me. I just know one of these kids will grow up to be a granola girl just like my mom. And that will be fine with me.