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.