Arm Stubble?
October 13, 2005 6:45 PM   Subscribe

Ladies, do you shave your arms?

I've noticed several young women in my college classes visible stubble on their forearms. They are not competitive swimmers, it seems to be an aesthetic choice. Is this common? Getting commoner? Why?
posted by bonheur to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (51 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
i don't shave my arms, but my sisters #2 and #3 do. they claim it's beause their arms are so hairy and it makes them feel more feminine to have smooth arms.
posted by jodic at 6:47 PM on October 13, 2005

I do not, but I know women that do. The whole idea seems very strange to me.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:53 PM on October 13, 2005 [1 favorite]

I do not. I'm remarkably unhairy though. I have to shave my pits maybe once a month, if that often.
posted by chiababe at 6:54 PM on October 13, 2005

So a bit of a misnomer, chiababe?
posted by Idiot Mittens at 7:02 PM on October 13, 2005

I'm not female, but I had a girlfriend who was and who did shave her arms. She had a hairless fetish and hated having hair where she didn't think there should be. She'd feel completely hideous if she didn't do it (and also thought the hair on my fingers was hideous too)
posted by substrate at 7:04 PM on October 13, 2005

I do. Rather, I don't shave them, but use an epilator on them. It eliminates the stubble issue you mention, and it lets me go about two months between dealing with it because it grows back fine and tolerable.

I hate my arm hair. It's pretty light and fine, but it's obnoxiously long and the follicles are too close together and I've been teased about it for as long as I can remember. I was told in high school that I couldn't possibly be a girl because only men and gorillas had arm hair like that. I first remember shaving it when I was about 8, before I found out about the greatness of epilators.

Okay, officially embarrassed.
posted by fuzzbean at 7:08 PM on October 13, 2005

No arm shaving here. I had a roommate in college who'd apparently done it when she was younger, and definetly looked very gorilla-ish. That is to say, I think that once you start with it you have to keep it up, because apparently if you abandon it, you will be hairier.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:13 PM on October 13, 2005

No shavey here. But I know that some female students in my class seem to remove all visible hair from their bodies (including arms, and one student used this as an example of the pressure put on female students at our school, a known problem), then spend an inordinate amount of time producing very straight, very highlighted hair on the tops of their heads. Even at 8:30 am. They can't seem to find their regular clothes and like to come to class in their PJs, but they sure do have nice hair. *shrug* What do I know? I'm a dorky teacher. Fads and preferences change throughout the years.

sidenote: bonheur, I can't find an email address for you, but check your last t-shirt thread for an update. The shirt was from Hollister.
posted by fionab at 7:15 PM on October 13, 2005

No, because if I forget to do it enough times, it will just keep growing back darker and thicker. Right now it's very thin and only noticeable if I really stare at my arm long enough.
posted by invisible ink at 7:26 PM on October 13, 2005

No, but like ThePinkSuperhero I know people who do and find it odd. I also really dislike brushing arms with someone with arm stubble--like most shaving it's only nice if its fresh. Otherwise, it's worse than being hairy.
posted by dame at 7:26 PM on October 13, 2005

I wax mine, although I did shave them the other day since I have no wax currently and didn't want to go out all hairy.

I have issues with body hair, though.
posted by Kellydamnit at 7:30 PM on October 13, 2005

Testimony from a 15-year old.
posted by painquale at 7:31 PM on October 13, 2005

No, but I've brushed up against a couple of body builder type guys at my gym who had obviously shaved their arms???
posted by oh posey at 7:33 PM on October 13, 2005

Medieval Maven, invisible ink, you've fallen prey to an old myth.
posted by juniper at 7:46 PM on October 13, 2005

Just a note - You will not get hairier from shaving - your body has a fixed number of hair follicles. You might look or feel hairier for a while though because the ends of all the hairs will be blunt rather than tapered.
posted by crabintheocean at 7:48 PM on October 13, 2005


'I had a roommate in college who'd apparently done it when she was younger, and definetly looked very gorilla-ish.'

Maybe that's why she did it, I mean, if people said I looked 'gorilla-ish', I'd probably feel the need to.
posted by crabintheocean at 7:51 PM on October 13, 2005

Nope, never have. I haven't recently noticed it on anyone else either. I had a junior high school friend who pulled the hair out with her fingernails. She said it was for aesthetic reasons.

painquale - thanks for the link. I hadn't seen that essay before.
posted by deborah at 7:51 PM on October 13, 2005

Also, the arm hair is likely lighter due to the sun exposure, so whatever grows in will be initially darker. It's definitely more prickly though, I'm not sure how long it stays like that.
posted by fionab at 8:00 PM on October 13, 2005

No arm-shaving here, but I'm rather fair, so perhaps not the best comparison. I used to know a woman who must have been a soul sister with substrate's old girlfriend, however- she shaved her chest on a nearly daily basis because she felt she should be completely hairless there. She also got her upper lip waxed weekly, for the same reason.
posted by ambrosia at 8:20 PM on October 13, 2005

No, I never have. And the idea freaks me out. For one thing, it would just be another damn thing to maintain.
posted by raedyn at 8:30 PM on October 13, 2005

I waxed my arms once, but I was on a swim team. I do have arms that are on the hairy side, but honestly I can't be bothered to shave them.

There seems to be a trend towards more extensive depilation with women recently.
posted by Lycaste at 8:38 PM on October 13, 2005

No way, no how and I have very few peers my age (4th year university) that do. The only body hair I make a serious effort to address is itchy underarms and eyebrows because Greek heritage means crazy Bert eyebrows. This also means I have sideburns, but I like those actually. My hair is dark, yes, but not remotely gorilla-like, thank you very much. Maybe skin tone helps?

I can't recall a single negative comment about any of it regardless, but maybe I'm oblivious. My sister has heartily waxed away her sideburns since her preteens, because she was teased about them. My mum shaves her arms, although I've never asked her why. I think it just looks strange and unnatural. I kind of feel the same way about men my age who have waxed off all their chest hair, but that's another issue all together.
posted by nelleish at 9:04 PM on October 13, 2005

I also wax mine, but only when overseas (North Africa) where it's really cheap and seems to be fairly common - it's an item on most of the "list of services" I've seen.
posted by Liosliath at 9:13 PM on October 13, 2005

Wow. My wife is self-conscious about hers, which I find delightfully downy and not-at-all unattractive, but which is more pronounced than that of many, if not most, other Korean women. I've always thought she was a bit nuts when she talked about wanting to electrolysis-ize it, or wax it, or whatever -- I had no idea it was so common for women to do it.

Sorry for not providing an answer, except tangentially, but stuff like this, oddly enough, is why I love Ask.Me.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:03 PM on October 13, 2005

I'm with raedyn here.
posted by lorrer at 11:46 PM on October 13, 2005

I don't - like chiababe, I'm just not very hairy.
posted by Lotto at 12:17 AM on October 14, 2005

I did when I was a young teenager ... I was just completely grossed out by having *any* hair on my body, anywhere. I had big body image problems.

I then went through a flip cycle of not shaving anything, ever, and I got a thrill by grossing out GPS arseholes at uni by flashing my pits.
posted by arha at 12:37 AM on October 14, 2005

I shave my arms sometimes. They're not very hairy, so it's more of an afterthought if I'm shaving something else. I was worried the first time I'd get stubble, but the hair regrowth was slow and not very stubbly at all. They feel nice when they're smooth and made my arm skin look very pale and creamy, which I like.
posted by speranza at 12:38 AM on October 14, 2005

I've never heard of this before.
posted by cali at 12:48 AM on October 14, 2005

I rarely do it, even though it's long, dark and, well, there are men out there with less body hair than me. I can give it a trim every once in a while, though. But since I am pretty dark, white smooth arms would look odd. And not at all me.
posted by mummimamma at 1:09 AM on October 14, 2005

I live in Japan, and all the junior high kids here do it. I can't imagine wasting the time it takes to that when you are 13 years old, but it seems like the trend here is to try to remain looking pre-pubescent for as long as possible.
posted by donkeymon at 3:08 AM on October 14, 2005

Crazy. I don't shave anything. Hairy arms, hairy pits, hairy legs. I enjoy the extra warmth and boys don't really seem to care. Plus I find the connection between shaving and prepubescence a little sad - I mean, I am an adult woman and I am proud of that, hair and all.
posted by mai at 3:43 AM on October 14, 2005

Never shaved, but I have bleached my arm hair before.
posted by SashaPT at 3:48 AM on October 14, 2005

I don't shave my arms, although I probably would if they were significantly hairy.

And yes, shaving does not affect the colour or texture of your hair no matter from whence body part it sprang. Hair softens and bleaches with exposure, so new hair will seem coarser and darker, but it won't stay that way.
posted by orange swan at 6:18 AM on October 14, 2005

"I then went through a flip cycle of not shaving anything, ever, and I got a thrill by grossing out GPS arseholes at uni by flashing my pits."

Global Positioning System?
posted by Lotto at 6:26 AM on October 14, 2005

Living in Spain and travelling in other Southern European countries I noticed most of the women I met did. Besides social pressure it was cheap. Also it is a cultural norm for some Muslims friends of mine. All body hair is regularly sugered off or waxed (except Hair and eyebrows natch!) for women while for men it was underams and from the waist down, including genitalia. They didn't bother with arms and legs. In such hot countries they viewed it as essentially a hygiene issue.
posted by Wilder at 6:38 AM on October 14, 2005

Dark hair, fuzzy arms, no arm shaving.
posted by matildaben at 6:47 AM on October 14, 2005

posted by JanetLand at 6:53 AM on October 14, 2005

Ooops, forgot details. Dark hair, fuzzy arms, though not as fuzzy as they were in my childhood (I'm 41). I also don't know anyone else who shaves her arms.
posted by JanetLand at 6:55 AM on October 14, 2005

I do not. I have pretty light body hair. I hate to shave and only shave my pits (because it feels all stinky and itchy if I don't). I don't like stubble.

I knew a girl in high school that did shave her arms, and I have heard of it since. I think the less-body-hair thing is getting more common; my impression is that it's partially influenced by the porn aesthetic.
posted by Melinika at 7:59 AM on October 14, 2005

Wow, how times have changed. I remember being grossed out by my 4th grade teacher's hairy pits - that would have been the early 1970's. Women used to NOT shave as a badge of feminism, and now they shave everything? Crazy.
posted by LadyBonita at 8:02 AM on October 14, 2005

wow, I'm also completely unfamiliar with this and really surprised how common it seems to be (i.e., even people saying 'no' are acting like this is totally normal, just a choice, not a "wha?").

But I dont' even really shave my legs, and I'm pretty lazy about my underarms, so I'm obviously a little atypical to start with.

I think the less-body-hair thing is getting more common; my impression is that it's partially influenced by the porn aesthetic.

definitely agree - I am amazed how many brazilians I see in changing rooms these days, when even just a few years back a total lack of pubic hair on an adult female was considered kinda pervy/pedophilish.
posted by mdn at 8:07 AM on October 14, 2005

A lady friend (IANAL) uses packing tape to rip the long black hair off her arms, every now and again.
posted by Aknaton at 8:49 AM on October 14, 2005

crabintheocean - Not that it necessarily matters, but she was aware that she had a lot of arm hair, and told us that when she was younger, she'd done the shaving, and that her perception was that she became hairier because of it, and so she quit. She was completely aware that she had *a lot* of arm hair for a girl. She made fun of it herself, which may or may not be the healthier reaction.
posted by Medieval Maven at 9:37 AM on October 14, 2005

I am gonna have to AskMe about why women are so crazy. Or so easily manipulated. Or so insecure. Something like that.

Shaving their arms, being embarassed about menustration, wearing shoes that harm their feet, fretting about makeup, overpaying for haircuts and clothing, getting plastic surgery of all sorts... I mean, shit, what's going on there? Be yourselves and screw everyone else's opinion!

I'd have thought feminism would have come a lot further this past thirty years. I'm pretty damn sure most men don't give a flying fuck about their less-than-perfect bodies.

You are what you are. Get over it.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:58 AM on October 14, 2005

The editors of Time put the word "cooch" on their web site?
posted by grouse at 10:15 AM on October 14, 2005

five fresh fish - if you and I were both single, I'd probably ask you to marry me. Just, ya know, FYI.
posted by raedyn at 10:16 AM on October 14, 2005

No, men get to worry about their bank accounts, professional status, and whether they're pussies for showing emotion. No insecurity or societal manipulation affecting the male gender *at* *all*. You guys are totally, 100% keeping it real, and never ever ever worry that you're not good enough. (Really, is "All women are neurotic sheep" really a useful comment here?)

To answer: I once bleached my arm hair in high school. Then I decided it was way the hell more work than I was willing to keep up, and soon afterwards just stopped caring about it one way or the other. Never heard of anyone who shaved it before this question.
posted by occhiblu at 10:31 AM on October 14, 2005

No, but I've considered it. As for how common it is, well it is pretty rare in my experience to see any hair at all on the arms of female models in fashion/ad photos. (I realize that this may have little bearing on whether the person photographed really has any arm hair, what with airbrushing and other editing. But is seems like an indicator of some sort.)

really surprised how common it seems to be (i.e., even people saying 'no' are acting like this is totally normal, just a choice, not a "wha?").

Most places that offer eyebrow and other facial waxing also have prices listed for full/half arm, arm pit, etc., so I've always imagined it is a common enough service they provide and that some people must be shaving those areas on their own as well.
posted by PY at 11:32 AM on October 14, 2005

My arm hair is pretty light, but it can get a little long for my liking. Occasionally I will waste time at work by trimming it with giant scissors. But no shaving. The upkeep would be a PITA.
posted by clh at 12:43 PM on October 14, 2005

really surprised how common it seems to be (i.e., even people saying 'no' are acting like this is totally normal, just a choice, not a "wha?").

I don't think anything anyone does to themselves for aesthetic/cleanliness reasons would surprise me. Live and let live. Unless, of course, you stink. Take a shower, dude/tte!

I know I said I didn't shave, but that's not say that I wouldn't jump at the chance to have permanent removal/tidying up of hair from certain places (legs, pits, brows, etc. I wouldn't bother with my arms - you'd have to be very close to see any hair). For what it's worth, I don't shave my legs in the winter and I'm contemplating the same for my armpits. It's such a waste of time. And really, the one person whose opinion counts (my husband) doesn't care one way or the other.

FFF - women are their own worst enemies. We see what's in magazines, on TV, on billboards, etc. and think we have to be the same as those air-brushed supermodels. Even though we realize (mentally) this is a bunch of bullshit it's hard to overcome the brainwashing.
posted by deborah at 1:40 PM on October 14, 2005

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