Fresh off the return of the full bush, there is yet another triumph for team no-nicks-and-cuts: Grown-out underarm hair. According to a recent study, nearly one in four women under the age of 25 have stopped shaving their underarms. And after lockdown, it’s likely that the number of individuals breaking antiquated body hair taboos has only gone up, with many embracing a more lived-in look. But perhaps most telling is Vogue’s August 2022 issue, where Emma Corrin, our first non-binary cover star, is proudly sporting their bushels of armpit hair in a Louis Vuitton tank dress.
As more celebrities publicly transcend the gender binary, beauty standards are thankfully broadening. But this long overdue shift in society’s standards of beauty has a precedent in the stars who bucked body hair conventions during decades past. In the Old Hollywood days, Sophia Loren redefined bombshell beauty by displaying grown out underarm hair in curve-hugging halter dresses, while Grace Jones’s underarm fuzz was a cool complement to her gender-bending style in the ’70s and ’80s. Equally radical were two of the latter decade’s biggest rule breakers, Madonna and Lisa Bonet, who each tossed the razor with aplomb.
Of course we’d be remiss not to mention America’s sweetheart Julia Roberts, who greeted the crowd at the Notting Hill premiere—and sent shock waves through the industry—with unapologetic thickets of underarm growth in 1999. Or Lola Kirke, who took the 2017 Golden Globes red carpet with visible, sweetheart-neckline-adjacent body hair. And when actor and social-justice activist Amandla Stenberg sported underarm fluff at the European premiere of The Hate U Give or Janelle Monáe arrived at the 2022 Met Gala wearing a futuristic gilded Ralph Lauren gown with fuzzy underarms, these were powerful norm-defying moments.
Here, a look back at all the renegades who might just inspire you to go au naturale with your underarm hair.