Seriously, why do you think this is empowering?
Whether you're pulling a Paula Cole or writing poetry about waxing, what you do with your armpits is your business. It doesn't affect the rest of us, and frankly, I don't care what your underarms look like.
In fact, chances are that I'm too self-absorbed to even notice. (I'm pretty self-absorbed. Most of us are, but I admit it.)
That said, the idea that underarm hair is somehow empowering is absolutely insipid to me.
Are there societal pressures to look a certain way? Sure, but here's the thing: No one actually cares that much what you look like unless they're trying to bang you.
What you do elsewhere in your life may not be the first thing people notice about you, but it will absolutely be what they remember the most. (For example, we all remember Paula Cole's armpit hair, and we remember her song "I Don't Want to Wait" because it was on the Dawson's Creek soundtrack. Why don't we remember more about her? Because she didn't have any other decent songs.)
The phenomenon is taking China by storm, with contests being held for the biggest pit bushes under the pretense that it makes you a better feminist. Feminist and underarm hair activist Xiao Meili told CNN, "Some people question why I make a fuss about the hair. They say there are more important issues that need to be solved like domestic violence and sexual assault. I think they are equally important. They're all about fighting for gender equality."
No, no, no!
As a survivor of an attempted sexual assault, I can assure you that any weird looks I'd get for forgetting to shave my pits for a week or two would be nothing compared to the horror of having a man trying to force himself on me as a teenager.
If a woman's husband is battering her, that's a much more pressing issue than whether or not she remembered to refill her Gillette. Equating domestic violence and rape with underarm hair is tremendously trivializing, and probably a sign that you've never experienced such atrocities. You're lucky. You're not wise, but you're lucky.
Xiao Meili continues, "The media coverage on female celebrities' underarms is disgusting, as if women shouldn't have hair or it's something to be ashamed of, while male celebrities openly show off their armpit hair."
I've never seen Chris Hemsworth waving his arms in the air to show off his golden tufts. Male celebrities aren't showing it off; they're just letting it be.
Conversely, women who don't shave their pits aren't actually making a statement so much as simply deviating from the norm, just like how someone with green hair isn't making a statement — he or she just has green hair.
(Or, in the case of Miley Cyrus, teal or hot pink hair under her arms.)
It's unusual, but there's no actual point to it either way, other than, "Hey! Look at me!" Some people like body hair, some people hate shaving, and some people love attention and want to feel like they're accomplishing something important without actually doing much work.
So far, no one has made an actual, legitimate point about how underarm hair is feminist.
On that note, I haven't checked them lately, but I'm pretty sure Gloria Steinem shaves her pits (and the reason I haven't checked is because, again, it doesn't f*cking matter), and she's pushed the feminist movement forward much farther than Miley Cyrus or Meili have, and probably ever will.
If growing out your armpit hair makes you happy, then have at it. It's your life, it's your body, it's your business.
But know that we're all more than our hair, or our lack thereof. And also know that there's a lot more to do to further gender equality — maybe a focus on an end to Sharia law becoming secular, or advocating against genital mutilation — than making a hashtag out of a hairy situation just so you can feel like a special snowflake.