Cancer Gave Me Awesome Armpits


Shaving my armpits is an uncomfortable and often painful experience. The uneven, concave landscape does not lend itself well to avoiding cutting myself and scraping off skin. In my teens and 20s, I remember using products that simply dissolved away the hair. The stuff smelled bad and was probably carcinogenic. It left my skin feeling only marginally less sore than shaving did and brought to mind an annoying little homily my mother used to tell me, "You have to suffer to be beautiful."

However, when I was going through chemo and radiation treatment for breast cancer, I have to say that I felt I was suffering to become less beautiful. The "100-year-old vampire" look of my bald head and pale skin didn't quite cut it for me, although it was perfect for my hairless devil costume at Halloween. Nevertheless, one of the benefits of going through chemo for breast cancer was the effect it had on my armpits. It was the only place where I was glad to lose my hair. Then the radiation zapped all the hair follicles within the treated field so that no hair grew back. I had already had radiation for breast cancer on the other side, so now the lower halves of my armpits were permanently equally hairless on both sides, leaving much less hair to shave. In addition, for good or ill, the radiation must have knocked out a lot of my sweat glands, so I needed to use much less underarm deodorant. Thus breast cancer treatment can help you save money on antiperspirant and reduce the hassle of dealing with hairy armpits. Who knew?

Some might ask why women should have to shave their underarm hair at all. Prior to the early 20th century, unshorn female armpits were the norm. However, then two things occurred: sleeveless fashions appeared and razor manufacturers decided to begin marketing their products to women as well as men. The result was a gradually increasing public perception that hairless female armpits were much more attractive than hairy ones. Virtually no fashion runway these days will present models displaying underarm foliage. Yet some celebs are proudly bucking the trend. Julia Roberts, Madonna and Miley Cyrus have all publicly shown off hairy armpits. In 2011, Lady Gaga even made it part of her costume when she performed at the Much Music Awards in Toronto, Canada. She sported a bright turquoise wig with matching shaggy underarm hair, plus a turquoise "pubic hair" codpiece over her clothing.

My friend Mary told me that her boyfriend had solved her armpit hair problem by offering to prune it. He was much more experienced in wielding the razor than she was, having had to shave every morning, although the convex surface of a male cheek and chin is considerably easier to shear than an armpit. "He did a brilliant job, with absolutely no nicks or soreness at all," Mary gushed. "What was even better was that I actually found it felt very sexy when he was shaving me." Indeed, in many ways it is quite an erotic activity for a guy to do. The armpit isn't just an area where you can feel ticklish. Over the past 2,000 years in China, intrepid Taoists researched every bit of the human body and its energy fields to find all the erogenous zones. According to the ancient Chinese, the armpits are one of the body's erogenous areas. If your man is paying you some attention there it can be quite the turn-on. So if he prefers you with no underarm hair, why not ask him to get rid of it for you? Happy shaving -- yes, I said shaving not shagging!


C. J. Grace's new book, Adulterer's Wife: How to Thrive Whether You Stay or Not, is available on Visit C. J.'s website, and follow her on Twitter:

Photo copyright © 2016, C. J. Grace.