I can still remember the first time I looked at my own body hair with a feeling of disgust.
I’d been chatting to a group of older boys outside my locker and, much to the surprise of my jittery 14-year-old self, the conversation seemed to be ticking along quite nicely. That is, until a whisper passed through the group, followed by a certain dull laughter and the words “Oh yeah! I can see it!” and “Shit, she does too!”
Bewildered, I made a confused dash for class.
As it happens, they were talking about my mo‘.
WATCH: Mia Freedman talks to her mum about why she stopped shaving her armpits.
That night, for the very first time, I experienced the sting of a wax being ripped from my fleshy upper lip, a painful practice that, along with shaving my legs, pits and pubic hair, became second nature to me in the years that followed.
These were the years of the dry shave, hunched over the bathroom sink scraping at pits that had barely yet sprouted. Years that saw me hack into my brow-hairs with such gusto they would eventually assume the appearance of a perfectly preened credit card slot.
Regretfully, these were also years in which I found myself apologising to sexual partners for having not properly tended my woman weave. A conversation would often go something like:
“I’m sorry…I haven’t quite prepared for tonight…I mean… I didn’t shave my uhh…vagina”
* pause *
“Oh um...no worries”
Yes, they were confused years.
They were not-a-girl-not-quite-yet-a-woman years.
But I got through them, and for the past 10 months I’ve had two fabulous patches of fuzz growing from my pits. To tell you the truth, I have never felt more confident.
Well-known Chinese women's rights activist, Xiao Meili, launched the idea behind an annual competition where women post their armpit selfies on a Chinese Twitter, Weibo, to highlight women's equality. See some of the entries below.
While most people assume my sudden spurt of hairy growth was an act bound up in feminist furor, it honestly just came down to simple forgetfulness.
It was winter. It was cold. Personal grooming had naturally fallen by the wayside and I just could not be arsed to spend up on another quality razor.
As I watched the hair creep out from areas that had for so long been plucked, primped and preened, I began to get a kick out of my minor revolt.
I was surprised to find the sight no longer repulsed me.
And so I let my body bloom. I grew hair all over and relished the opportunity to experiment with ways I could feel beautiful that beat against the grain of modern beauty standards.
Of course, there were occasions when I felt conscious about flashing my fuzz in public, but it became a challenge to work out why I felt this way and use it to fuel my fire. Plus, nobody but my own mother really even cared.
One year down the track, I absolutely love the way my fluffy pits look and feel. I’ve let my leg hair grow out and I’m sorry boys, but the mo' is here to stay.
I still tend to my pubic hair because personally, I find it more comfortable. Does this make me any less of a feminist? Absolutely not.
This is what works for me. This is how I’ve come to feel best about my own body and find my personal empowerment. It may not work for you and that’s okay.
When it comes to body hair, there are no wrongs or rights. Only we can dictate how we truly think and feel about the skin we’re in. So whether you get your kicks rocking a full bush or prefer a bald eagle approach just know, I support you.
Feature image: supplied.