By Tom Purcell
It’s a fashion trend that I don’t think I’ll ever get used to: More American women are letting their armpit hair grow.
According to The Associated Press, “Women are proudly showing off their growth on Instagram and YouTube, and it’s not just Miley Cyrus anymore.”
Hairy-armpit celebrities may be attempting to make a feminist statement, but the truth is that armpit shaving is a relatively recent concept.
According to MentalFloss.com, shaving didn’t begin to catch on until about 1828, with the invention of the safety razor. The invention of the disposable safety razor in 1895 made shaving all the rage, though most shaving involved men removing facial hair.
MentalFloss explains that American women didn’t begin shaving their armpits until about 1915, with the advent of the sleeveless dress. They didn’t begin shaving their legs until the 1940s, with the introduction of “shorter skirts, sheerer stockings, and the rise of leggy pin-ups such as Betty Grable.”
Still, though hairy armpits were once the norm for American women — and though women shouldn’t be pressured by advertisers to use hair-removal products — it’s a fashion choice I don’t think I can get used to.
Because while more women are embracing traditional characteristics of masculinity, more men are embracing traditional characteristics of femininity — men are shaving off their body hair.
Whereas older, tough-guy generations proudly sported their chest hair — Sean Connery displayed a bear pelt on his chest when he appeared in James Bond films in the 1960s — millennials are paying a fortune to have every body hair plucked.
They are motivated by Hollywood actors and famous athletes who have had all their body hair zapped — and the actors and athletes are motivated by, well, who the heck knows?
It’s true that fashions come and go — the white patent leather shoes and plaid pants my uncle wears to church will eventually make their way back again — and it’s true I’m no expert on such trends.
But am I alone in noticing that the recent trends reveal a larger picture: that the differences between men and women — between masculinity and femininity — are being erased?
Call me an outmoded fuddy-duddy, but I have always been a sucker for a lady who is not afraid to be feminine — a lady who carries herself with grace and style, an air of mystery, a dignity and quiet confidence that demand respect.
And don’t most women prefer to spend time with men who know how to be men? Men who are confident, witty and self-assured? Men who don’t spend hours putting goop in their hair and having their body hair zapped at the salon?
I like distinctions between men and women — distinctions in fashion and behavior that celebrate our differences. Isn’t that the idea? That our differences complement each other and make us something more enjoyable together than we are alone?
Look, ladies, of course you have rights equal to those of any man — but men and women are not equal. Women are superior to us in every way — common sense, morality, kindness, compassion … . Why would you want to be like us when we don’t even want to be like us?
Speaking of women carrying on like slothful men: Hey, Lena Dunham, author, director and star of the HBO series “Girls” — and the latest female celebrity to don armpit hair — would you please put your clothes on!
It’s no wonder there is so little romance in the world these days. It is only when two truly opposite forces called man and woman come together that romance may occur — but how can opposites attract when there are so few opposites?
That’s why it’s probably best that women shave their armpit hair and men allow their hair to grow.
©2015 Tom Purcell. Tom Purcell, author of “Misadventures of a 1970’s Childhood” and “Comical Sense: A Lone Humorist Takes on a World Gone Nutty!” is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. For info on using this column in your publication or website, contact Sales@cagle.com or call (805) 969-2829. Send comments to Tom at Tom@TomPurcell.com.