Armpit hair a growing trend for women

Story highlights

  • Armpit hair is making a comeback among women
  • "Women should have the right to decide how to deal with their bodies," says Xiao Meili
  • Celebrities Lena Dunham, Jemima Kirke and Madonna have embraced the trend

(CNN)The newest summer trend has nothing to do with fashion choices or diet plans; some women are focusing instead on how lengthy and colorful their armpit hair can get.

Around the world, women are challenging the norm and embracing their natural underarm hair by posting photos on social media.
The reasons range from feminist ideology to just plain loving the natural look, feel and convenience of unshaved pits.
In China, feminist Xiao Meili started an armpit hair competition on the microblogging site Weibo, and dozens of women submitted their photos.
"Women should have the right to decide how to deal with their bodies, including small details like armpit hair," Xiao told CNN. "You can choose to shave it, but you shouldn't be forced to do so under the pressure of stereotypes."
Long armpit hair on women is nothing new. The trend re-emerges periodically; remember the '70s?
The "free to be hairy" notion has caught the attention of some of Hollywood's most notable stars, too.
Madonna showcased what appeared to be sprouting armpit hair on Instagram in March 2014 with the caption "Long hair...... Don't Care!!!!!! #artforfreedom #rebelheart #revolutionoflove."

Long hair...... Don't Care!!!!!! #artforfreedom #rebelheart #revolutionoflove

A photo posted by Madonna (@madonna) on

"Girls" star Jemima Kirke stepped out at the Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards in June with an au-natural look. She shot down critics with a tweet, saying she's "bored" with the pit talk.
"It's just my own personal preference. That being said please can we stop talking about pits?" Kirke tweeted. She attached a photo of Sophia Loren, who famously flashed her growth on red carpets and photo shoots way back in the day.
Even Kirke's "Girls" co-star Lena Dunham has "grow armpit hair" listed as the first thing on her summer to-do list.

urgent action items

A photo posted by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on

As Kirke noted, it's far from the first time famous women have sported this look.
Actress Julia Roberts famously showed up to the premiere of "Notting Hill" in 1999 wearing a red gown and overgrown pit hair.
"The media coverage on female celebrities' underarms is disgusting, as if women shouldn't have hair or it's something to be ashamed of, while male celebrities openly show off their armpit hair," Xiao said.
While shaving could be considered the norm for many, one woman who submitted a photo in Xiao's online contest said she believes women should think twice before cutting off underarm hair.
"I love my armpit hair. It's part of my body. I hope girls can show off their armpit hair without fear."