Should I shave my armpits for my wedding day?

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Original photo by Flickr user theqspeaks, used by Creative Commons license
Original photo by Flickr user theqspeaks, used by Creative Commons license
I'm having a dilemma about armpit hair.

I haven't shaved my hairies in YEARS, and I really don't want to, but I'm feeling totally out on my own here!

Have you got any advice or photos for brides considering rocking the pit hair on their wedding day?

-Kit

This is a deeply personal (and dare I say political!) decision, so while I can't give you a cut ‘n' dry answer I can provide a few questions from a few different angles can help you make the decision for yourself…

The political angle: Why do you choose not to shave?
If it's an issue of body hair politics and feminism, then you should absolutely stick to what you've been doing. There's enough pressure and identity crisis involved with wedding planning without feeling like you're compromising the values that are important to you.

The existential angle: What makes you feel like you should shave?
Would it be for your guests, or for you? For how you'd feel the day of, or how you'd feel looking at photos years from now?

The fashion angle: What aesthetic are you going for with your wedding?
If you're organizing, for example, a pagan handfasting where you'll be wearing a soft muslin dress and holding wildflowers, you may not need to even think about your pits! If you're organizing a posh bed & breakfast event with a formal gown and heels, then you might encounter a bit more of a stylistic disconnect — although again: if you choose not to shave for political reasons, then the visual contradiction could be a powerful one!

The compromising angle: What about trimming or bleaching?
If you don't want to shave but do want to tidy things up, you could trim or even bleach. Again, depends on your reasons for not wanting to shave in the first place.

Ultimately, my goal with advice is always to help brides make decisions that allow them to be authentic to themselves. If your stance on armpit depilation is part of your politics and/or identity, then I say rock it on your wedding day!

If, for whatever reason, you do decide to go bare, I would suggest you skip shaving and wax instead. I come from a family of furry women (seriously: my mom's legs are hairier than my dad's!) and after years of resentful razor burn and stubble, I've been much happier since I became a lazy waxer. (Lazy because see, you HAVE to let you hair grow out between waxings. It's this awesome thing where you can feel completely fine about toggling between totally smooth high maintenance fancy pants and a complete wookie.) Yes, it stings, but the joy of waxing is that after the wedding you'll have no razor burn and hair that grows in waaaay softer.

Now, as for pictures? I'm afraid I don't have any. Offbeat Brides, any of y'all got any to share? Post a link in the comments…

Comments on Should I shave my armpits for my wedding day?

  1. i just feel I should point out that not all Pagans abstain from shaving. I'd venture to say that at least half to a majority of us do shave. I have nothing against people who don't, but there seems to be this stereotype that if you're Pagan it means you don't shave your pits. To each their own, obviously, but I just don't want it to be assumed that Paganism and not shaving are linked. Thanks!

    • As the daughter of a Pagan, ain't no disrespect intended. I was just offering one generalized example — as with all generalizations, they won't apply to everyone.

    • Yeah, I know exactly what you mean! Ive been to a few Pagan Pride Days where walking along I get caught by the stench of un-deodorized, un-kempt pits… and omg was it rough!!! I myself am Pagan… more specifically of the Druid/Wiccan/Orisha tradition, but I choose to shave my arm pits and legs when they need as well as use deodorant!

  2. I'm one of the unhairiest people I know, I know hairier newborn babies. It's a very rare occassion when I do de-hair myself. Had a dress fitting last week, and was TOLD "I hope you're going to remember to shave before the wedding" by my own mother. I haven't decided wether I will or not out of principal. Prior to this telling off, I would have shaved if I remembered and if I had a chance and if there were any razors within arms reach when I remembered. Now she's gone and made it all political again! Obviously because my own very hairy mother (it's my father who's the hairless freak) is jealous of my hairlessness. Of course, now my decision is also motivated by needing to provide a hairy wedding photo…

  3. As Ariel is always good to point out, it's important to be authentic to yourself. That could mean doing the same thing you have (not) done for years because it's comfortable or because you want to make a powerful statement. It could also mean that you are in the mood to do something different for a special occasion, and just need to find the right approach to something unfamiliar. Whatever you decide, I think it's important to point out that while political significance might influence your decision to go au naturel on a daily basis, it can but does not have to be the only factor in what you decide to do for your wedding. Similarly, your views shouldn't be determined (or doubted) simply by the way you wear your body.

  4. You can wax your pits??? I am of the wookie tribe – even when I shave I have an impressive bluebeard. I am definitely going to investigate the waxing!

    I think bleaching would be an elegant compromise, depending on the personal politics involved.

    • It's easier to have someone else do it for you. It's really tough to hold the skin taught and pull the strip at the same time.

    • Liz, darling… I want to warn you of the pros and cons to waxing. The pros are obvious. But if you do shave them on a regular basis, make sure you take an anti inflammatory about an hour before your appointment. And bring a leather wallet or watchband to bite down on, because the first time HURTS LIKE HELL!!! lol
      If you wax on a regular basis, it doesn't hurt nearly as much, but have you ever noticed that when you shave your hair it seems to grow in thicker? That's because it does…
      One (technically two) more pro(s): After waxing, the hair grows in finer, there fore hurting less on the next wax. And as an added bonus, when the hair is ripped out by the root, it can sometimes cause damage to the follicle, causing that hair not to grow back at all. Which is why, after years of waxing my unibrow, I am proud to say I finally have two(!) and if I let them grow in to their beautiful bush whacker (or "natural") state, you can actually see a bald line where my waxed brows normally would be. lol

      • Actually, when you shave the hairs, they feel thicker because of the blunt end of the hair. They don’t really come in thicker, common misconception.

    • I agree with the bleaching being more elegant! only…if I didn't shave I'd dye mine blueafter bleaching and rock blue armpit hair!
      cuz you know something old, something new. something borrowed and something BLUE!

      • muahahahahahhah! I am totally tempted to do this for my wdg this summer! (actually the whole post kind of tempted me to grow out my pits nice & long for the wdg so I can have hairy-armpit-bride photos for Ariel!)

      • LOL I am so glad you mentioned blue armpit hair dye. I was actually thinking of something like hot pink (My pits are rather sparse and scraggly, but it would be awesome to have bushy hot pink pits

    • i’m a long-time fan of waxing over shaving since razors make my skin throw a FIT. another thing to note is that if you’re not used to waxing, your skin might be a bit red and angry for a day or so afterwards. a bit of gentle lotion or Vaseline on while you’re sleeping can help but just to be safe i’d get it done several days before if you’re going to. you’ve usually got a good week before it starts to grow back anyway. also, ask around for a good waxer. i went to several high-end places that i HATED every min of before i found my current beloved girl through a friend of a friend. she rents a beautiful room in the back of a horrible little barber shop and is down to earth, fast, really really good, and less then half the price! it pays to look into the little hole-in-the-wall places

    • Yes, you can wax your armpits. However, if you have been shaving than as Kris pointed out, your first waxing will be painful. Exfoliating before the appointment can help also, olive oil afterward will not only soothe the skin but remove any left over wax on the skin.

      The key is choosing a skilled person. Just because a spa offers waxing does not mean that the practitioners really knows what they are doing. Ask people for references.

      I have been waxing for years (armpits, full leg and bikini), the hair grows back much finer, softer and after a while stops growing in at all.

      • “…after a while stops growing in at all.”

        How I wish this were the case. I’ve been waxing for 12 years, and have not found this to be true.

  5. I just want to comment to support any gals (and boys, too!) out there who would rather not do de-hair-ification for their weddings, but are facing pressure to do so. I'm not just a hairy legs-and-armpits girl, I'd bearded, too! I do shave and wax my face, but even that feels like somehow betraying what my body just does on its own. My own reasons for not shaving have largely to do with wanting to undermine a media-defined idea of beauty, and my wedding is going to be a chance to say "Yes! girls with beards and mustaches can be beautiful and happy and find partners who love them and think they are beautiful!"

    I wish brides would stop worrying about their attendants hairiness (or unhairiness)! Your attendants are supposed to be your nearest and dearest – friends and siblings! – clearly you love them because of who they are, not because of their armpits! It's a sad thing to lose a friend over. If you're in this situation as a bridesmaid, suggest things like a dress with sleeves, spiffy tights or knee socks.

  6. I say rock that arm pit hair if it's important to you! The point about identifying WHY you feel you should shave is very important. If it's something you're considering because YOU might want it then I think it's worth the contemplation. If you are worried about your how your wedding guests will feel about it then I say keep em' fuzzy! This is, after all, a day for you and your partner to uniquely celebrate your relationship. If your friends and family know you at all then your fuzzy pits should come as no surprise. Personally I went 4 years without shaving before finally a roll in a musical required me to do so. Since then I'll shave when I'm going to be wearing a fancy dress or something but generally keep things shaggy. The people who matter understand this about me and the people who don't… well they wouldn't be at my wedding anyway 😉

    Enjoy your day whatever you decide to do!

  7. I know that you should stay true to yourself, BUT – do your guests all know that you're all natural? After reading this post, I kept thinking about Julia Roberts walking the red carpet and waving, and everyone went nuts over her unshaven pits. That is all anyone could talk about – not her radiant smile, her dress, her hair – it was all about her pits for at least a few weeks!

    So, I think I would also keep in mind – is this the kind of crowd where all they will remember about your wedding is that you didn't shave?

    Whatever you do, I am sure you will rock the dress!

    • EXACTLY. do you WANT to make a statement (people WILL notice) or NOT? if you DON’T want anyone to notice, shave. if you WANT to keep up your street cred, keep it hairy!

  8. Meh- It's just armpit hair, I seriously doubt you'll look back at pictures of your bare pits and wish that they had been hairy, plus it will always grow back! People are a lot less likely to notice your shaved arm pits over hairy ones anyway.

    • I'm much more likely to wish they'd been hairy than to leave them alone and wish they'd been shaved 😉 I figure even if this is something I change my mind on, some day, I'll look back at hairy-pit pics and think "oh man I was a hilarious hippy wannabe". Good times, good times.

  9. I think Ariel gave great advice. I couldn't have said it better. My only advice is if you do rock the hairy pits, make sure you wear clear deodorant. That would just add to the stares if you have white bits under the pits.

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