Pitstache: Believe It or Not, Young Filmmaker's Armpit Hair Documentary Doesn't Stink
Submitted by: Pitstache Productions
Durham, NC (OPENPRESS) May 4, 2012 -- Armpit hair may not be the first thing on your mind when you roll out of bed, but for local filmmaker and comédienne Deborah Aronin, that's what's on her mind most of the time. It's even gotten her an interview with Jean Kilbourne and high-profile subjects.
Her film, Pitstache: The Documentary About Armpit Hair asks the questions:
"Why does a tiny patch of hair cause such a fuss?"
"When did we start shaving our pits?"
"Whose idea is this, anyway?"
"Are all women who don't shave hippies, feminists, or lesbians? What about hippy feminist lesbians?"
What is a "Pitstache?"
A "pitstache" is a patch of hair under one's arm. Like "moustache" only in a different location. And Love it or hate it no one can deny that a lady with a pitstache gets a double-take.
Deborah Aronin, a 26-year old Duke Graduate with a certificate in Documentary Studies, wanted to make this film because of her own experience: "I originally stopped shaving my armpits for the most feminist of all reasons: My boyfriend told me he liked armpit hair on women, and said if I was shaving for him, I didn't need to."
At first she was shy about people's reactions, and eventually wound up shaving for a wedding, which bothered her. What was the big deal? After growing them again she began wondering why reactions were so varied and so extreme, from "gross" to "love your pit hair."
Initial research found that there was very little academic scholarship on body hair, and that in America, the popularization of women shaving their armpits seems to have started with a 1915 advertisement in Harper's magazine calling for the "removal of objectionable hair" due to new fashions. (See http://pitstache.com/ads)
Fast forward to 2012: In America, it's assumed all women shave their armpits and legs; the ones who don't are disgusting and making a "point" for some political reason--or just lazy. Now almost any body hair on women (and increasingly men) is deemed disgusting.
In the last 10 years, the "Brazilian wax" is de rigueur for young women, and even "the Hollywood," complete removal of all hair except for eyebrows and head hair, has become commonplace. Combined with thinner and thinner models and actresses, it's hard not to wonder if there's a connection between these increasingly unrealistic demands and clearly increasing trends of insecurity, eating disorders, and cutting.
Female celebrities who dare to bare pit hair are usually ridiculed and torn down in the press for weeks or months. Why? Every one of these celebrities have been attacked when they either didn't shave because they were busy or because they didn't want to:
Drew Barrymore, routinely dismissed as a "hairy hippie"
Julia Roberts, who was made fun of nonstop and called disgusting
Paula Cole, as a musician, got off easy
Tyra Banks had stubble and was ridiculed with things like "This is absolutely disgusting and I'm sorry you had to see this"
Lily Allen, whom the UK press told she "needed to be reminded about proper underarm grooming," and worse...
Fatima Siad, (America's Next Top Model), whose unshaven armpits literally stopped the show with Tyra Banks, Nigel Barker, J. Alexander, and Paulina Porizkova, heavily criticizing her for what amounted to a barely stubbly pit.
This is the reality of Americans and armpit hair. Why did it become like this? Is it harmful or harmless? What do people think of women who don't shave? This isn't a rant, there's no soapbox. But there is a question: Why and when did it become so important? After all, it's an ARMPIT.
Pitstache: The Documentary About Armpit Hair examines all these cultural norms, their followers and their rebels, as a serious documentary subject, but with a bit of tongue-in-pit comedy. Because who can even say the word "armpit" without wanting to laugh?