And now, the female answer to Movember: British women are growing out their pit hair to support Armpits4August, a new initiative to raise money and awareness for those suffering from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), a condition so little known that spell-checker wants me to fix its name. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of PCOS include weight gain as well as excess hair on the face and body (hence the gesture of growing out one’s body hair to support PCOS sufferers — although a monthlong weight-gain initiative could be interesting too). Armpits4August’s website says that up to 10 percent of women are affected by the disease — which is a lot, considering how little is known about it.
Armpits4August was founded in 2012, so it’s still quite small and still restricted mainly to the U.K. Although its participants only number in the hundreds so far, the Telegraph is already billing it as the ladies’ version of Movember, an initiative in which men grow mustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men’s health issues. Global awareness of Movember has exploded since its 2003 inception, raising nearly $118 million last year with well over a million mustachioed participants.
The initiative’s co-founder, 23-year-old Gina Fuller, tells the Telegraph:
We chose August because it’s the month where your armpits are out so everyone can see them. We just went for the month that is the most difficult.
It’s also a statement about female pride and solidarity:
We see such a narrow stereotype of what beauty is in the media and magazines, but everybody should be able to express themselves … I’m quite a relatively regular shaver, compared to the others, and I think we decided to focus on not shaving our armpits because they hold the most stigma. We want to break that down …
Most women are really supportive; it’s more teenage girls that really struggle with it. They shout out ‘that’s disgusting’, which is quite worrying.
And no, Fuller is not the “type” of girl who normally avoids razors:
If you do see women with armpit hair, it does seem to be a certain type of woman. It’s nice for me to wear pretty dresses and strapless tops and do it.
Perhaps, like Movember, this movement will make it more acceptable for women to enjoy their hairy pits beyond the month of August! Like mustaches, the opposite gender might not be so welcoming of the idea, but it’s worth entertaining.