It's odd how a normal, everyday bra-fitting experience can quickly turn into a nightmare.
It wasn't the humilation of being measured by a stranger (I've had all sorts of weirdos conduct this task in my lifetime, notably a woman who shouted that I was 'very small' when being fit for a maternity bra and who ordered me to bend over and shake my breasts towards the carpet to try to fill the cup out more). Instead it was the horrible realisation that - it being winter and all - I had neglected to shave under my armpits for a week.
What a situation.
1. Do I fake an emergency phone call and run out of the changing rooms?
2. Do I go through with it but do everything in my power to hide the offending growth?
3. Do I act all liberated and not care about looking like a gorilla? We're all women, right?
Well, Cilla, I ended up choosing contestant number 2. The measurer came back in and I stood, penguin-like, upper arms stuck to the top of my body, while she tried to measure me. It wasn't to be though. She had to get the measuring tape all around my front and back and the only way to do this was by lifting my arms and exposing my shame.
Image from armpithair.info
OK, that image is not me - it's taken from a site all about armpit hair and why women have it. It's natural so why the heck do we spend so much money - £280 million a year (2007 estimate) - to get rid of it? And why do we slam shave-free celebrities such as poor Julia Roberts who became known more for being pretty hairy woman after this photo?
The BBC thought it was worth dedicating an entire article to the subject. Shaving under the arms certainly isn't a new thing - women have done it for thousands of years to separate themselves from the common masses. But now it seems we're going the other way - becoming so smooth that we might as well be boiled eggs on hair-free legs. Hygiene is all very well but we're becoming worryingly pre-pubescent in our tastes especially with regards our pubic hair. It seems so ironic that many men spend so much money on hair-growth products, or on hair transplants, while we spend a fortune trying to pluck, wax, thread and destroy hair with chemicals. Wouldn't it be great if we could do a swap? Give our unwanted hairs to the men of the world who lack it atop their heads?
None of the bras I tried on fitted correctly (that's another story) but I nearly bought one as an apologetic gesture to the assistant who had to face my hirsuteness (is that a word? it ought to be). Needless to say the first thing I did when I came home was to remove the offending fur... and promptly spray alcohol-containing deodorant onto the freshly mown skin. Ouch. A blow for feminism and for my poor, bullied pores and follicles.