Thursday, September 6, 2012

What is it with hairy armpits?

It's funny what keeps us awake at night. There I was, exhausted from a day's worth of work and woes, innocently laying my head to rest on my pillow, when a troubling thought presented itself to me. Hair. Now, I can understand the function of most areas of hair – on the arms, legs and head it acts as an early warning system for any contact and also helps preserve heat. But what about the armpits? What's the point?

In that strange place between sleep and consciousness my mind was troubled. It just seemed to serve no logical purpose (armpit hair, not my mind). And furthermore, how come in some cultures it's okay for women to sport full follicles, but in others, it's not. And let's face it, if most women in places like the US and the UK manage without it, how necessary is it?

I for one am not a fan of armpit hair. I tolerate my own, but if my wife was to abandon her usual shaving habits and decide to grow a small crop then I would find that most unfortunate. But this must be down to my cultural outlook rather than anything intrinsically wrong with under arm rugs. But for some reason our cultural seems to require women (and some men) to shave every area of their bodies... except of course the lucky hair that grows on the head. A good head of hair is something is prized – in fact whilst half the nation is intent on shaving, removing or plucking all bodily hair, the other half laments the thinning that occurs on the head. To have a full head of hair and to be hairless everywhere else is of such importance that men and women are willing to pay great sums of money to try and either cultivate or remove hair, depending on its whereabouts.

Anyway, the answer seems to be twofold. Firstly, it acts as a kind of lubricant to reduce friction. Secondly, and slightly strangely, it is to aid us in attracting members of the opposite sex. Apparently, it captures the nutrient-rich sweat and the resulting scent conveys a lot of information about the one who produced it.

So there we have it. I can sleep again, safe in the knowledge that armpit hair (and certain other areas), although not essential, does indeed have a function. But don't get me started on nasal and ear hair. I mean why when you hit a certain age does your body decide now is the appropriate time to start redirecting its precious hair growing resources from your scalp to other areas? Looks like another sleepless night coming my way...

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