Weibo Women’s “Armpit Hair Contest”


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An online “Armpit Hair Contest” has fuelled social media discussions on female aesthetics in China. As many women posted selfies on Sina Weibo showing off their hairy armpits, not all netizens agreed on their beauty. But for initiator Xiao Meili, the contest has fulfilled its purpose.

On May 26, Chinese women’s rights advocate Xiao Meili initiated a contest of women’s underarm hair on Sina Weibo. She encouraged women to send ‘selfies’ with their arms proudly raised, showing off their hairy armpits. Forty-six women participated in the contest and posted photos under the hashtag “women underarm hair contest” (#女子腋毛大赛#). Amongst them were three of China’s five feminists who drew worldwide attention for their detention in March this year over their campaign for gender equality.

_83494865_chinaarmpithair3Xiao Meili, initiator of the armpit contest.

The contest, which ended on June 10, has been viewed over 1.54 million times on Sina Weibo and gained more than 1,300 comments up to June 11. Six winners were selected from the photo competition, based on the number of reposts and ‘likes’. The first place winner received a hundred free condoms, the second place got a vibrator, and the third place winners were rewarded with ten female urination devices.

“Why are hairy armpits a taboo for women?”

Weibo user “Zhu Xixi Loves Eating Fish” is the first-prize winner of the “Women’s Underarm Hair Contest”. She said she enjoyed her underarm hair and posted a picture of herself revealing her unshaved armpits while smiling with her eyes closed. In the added comment, she says: “When I was still heterosexual, my boyfriend at the time just took it for granted that I shaved my armpits for the sake of wearing sleeveless T-shirts – until I shaved all of his underarm hair and let him experience what girls go through.”

wow1Some of the participants. Winner Zhu Xixi is in the center.

“Chacha”, one of the second-prize winners, wrote on the contest page: “I love my underarm hair. It’s part of my body. I hope girls can reveal it without fear.” Another Weibo user called “Mimosa” commented to show her support and emphasize the importance of being true to oneself: “I think my hairy armpits look just fine, I never shave them,” she says: “I still wear vests in summer and I don’t feel ashamed of it. Most women have underarm hair. Why do we have to shave it? Why does it have to be a taboo? Do shaved armpits look beautiful?” She believes that there’s no point of listening to other people’s judgement as long as you are comfortable with yourself.

cef7c456jw1eslx9uyby3j20zk0no40pSecond-prize winner ‘Chacha’.

User “Poor and Bored” says that women shouldn’t shave their armpits for medical reasons: “Pulling or shaving armpits might lead to skin infection, as there are many lymph nodes in the armpits. It’s not good for your health. Nobody cares if you shave your armpits as long as you keep it clean.”

However, some netizens hold the idea that armpit hair is ugly and smelly. User “VansChan”, together with many other users, commented that shaving armpits has nothing to do with feminism. “Why is it relevant to women’s rights? Whether it’s men or women, revealing hairy armpits when wearing sleeveless tops is inelegant. We can smell it on the bus and subway. Allegedly, less than 30 percent of Chinese people use antiperspirants.”

“Shaving armpits has nothing to do with feminism”

User “Miseryzoe” is also an opponent of hairy armpits, and continuing the debate by stressing that men and women can’t be completely equal. She added: “I think hairy armpits for girls are ugly and disgusting. Shaving armpits has nothing to do with feminism. Most of these women who don’t shave their armpits are probably just lazy. I don’t believe they don’t think it looks terrible.”

After the storm of comments on the issue of women (not) shaving their armpits, Xiao Meili posted the history of shaving armpits on the Sina Weibo contest page. Shaving armpits started in the United States in 1915, when the fashion magazine BAZAAR published a photo of a woman raising her arms revealing shaved armpits. Then Gillette launched the razor for women to shave their armpits. The advertisement persuaded women to shave and “remove the objectionable hair” so that women would be beautiful, attractive and sanitary.

Gillette1920s marketing campaign pursuading women to shave their armpits.

Xiao Meili had stated that the purpose of Weibo’s “Women Underarm Hair Contest” is to free women’s armpits and open up the discussion on the “definition of feminine beauty”. Women should have the right to choose whether they want to shave their armpits or not. One of the users “Tender 10384” showed her support for Xiao, stating that “the goal of this contest is not to suggest that women should have hairy armpits, but to make women realise that they have the ownership to their own body – women shouldn’t be forced to shave armpits under the pressure of stereotypes or the mainstream aesthetic.”

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Shaving armpits is relatively new in China. According to Xiao Meili, it was not a widespread custom in until the 1990s. Since then, similarly to America and Europe in the 1920s, the idea was spread that women have to shave their armpits – making many believe that they have to in order to be accepted by society. The contest on Weibo has created a buzz amongst young Chinese women, helping them understand the difference between “can” and “have to”: they can shave their armpits, but they don’t have to.

By Yiying Fan, edited by Manya Koetse (This article was published on What’s on Weibo)

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Chinese Relationship Guru to Women: Put Motherhood On Hold


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Do not get pregnant too soon – that is the message of China’s most popular relationship advisor to women on Weibo. The post became an instant hit, igniting online discussions of becoming a mom directly after marriage.

Chinese best-selling author Lu Qi (陆琪), also known as one of the most popular relationship advisors on Sina Weibo, advises Chinese women on his Weibo account not to have children too quickly after getting married. The post resonated with millions of female Weibo users since it was published on May 10.

In the post, titled “Do Not Become a Mother Too Young” (不要太早当妈), Lu Qi writes about how a young girl from rural China had to give up her dream of studying at the China Academy of Art because she got pregnant. She could have become an artist and live the life of her dreams, but instead, she got married young and had a child at 18 years old. She remained in the small rural town with its narrow-minded community, raising the baby instead of going to university. Lu also illustrates how the dreams of a myriad of other young Chinese women were crushed after being forced by their husbands and parents to have kids.

“So many places to explore, so many dreams to pursue.”

Lu Qi shared his thoughts with his 21 million followers on Weibo: “I always believe that it’s irresponsible for a woman to have a child unprepared, no matter whether it’s an accident or persuasion. A mother’s love is a woman’s nature, and some people make use of this ‘nature’ to limit and change women – and they usually get what they want, which is horrible.”

Lu Qi adds that he hopes that all girls will understand that motherhood is not about carrying on the family line, or something that parents or husband urge you to do, and also not something that happens by accident. Having and raising a child will change your life for good. Once you are a mother, you have to be responsible and are limited to do what you can do with your life. There are so many places to explore in the world and so many dreams to pursue – why not achieve these goals when you are still young and then having a child when you and your husband are both ready?

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Relationship guru Lu Qi’s Weibo post ‘do not become a mother too young’ has been viewed over 66 million times.

The hashtag #不要太早当妈# (‘do not become a mother too young’) has been viewed over 66 million times on Weibo in the past few days. An ongoing poll shows that 78% Weibo users support the idea of waiting a while before having babies.

Weibo user ‘Small Fox’ cannot agree more with Lu Qi. She replied on his post: “I would have preferred having babies later in life, but my husband and parents-in-law pushed me very hard to become pregnant as soon as possible. I really regretted my decision as all the efforts I’ve made on my career were in vain. I’m not even sure if I’m able to go back to work after my kid goes to kindergarten, and I don’t know what I can do.”

“I feel like I’m not living for myself.”

“I believe I have the right to say something here, as I’ve already had two kids at age 24,” Weibo user ‘Xiaoshan Niuniu’ writes. She confesses that she would have rather waited a while to have kids if she could choose again: “I feel like I’m not living for myself since I gave birth to my kids. It makes me so sad, especially when my husband leaves the kids alone with me so that he can go out and have fun with his friends. Both husband and wife need to shoulder the responsibility for bringing up the children. However, the society holds the view that the wife is supposed to take care of both the kids and the husband. We also have our own goals and dreams!”

In Chinese culture, women are expected to devote themselves to raising the children and looking after the husband regardless how successful or ambitious they are before tying the knot. In the recent decade, Chinese women increasingly fight for their rights. Female netizens express that it means a lot to them that male icon, Lu Qi, supports them in propagating his message to women: pursue your dreams, working hard for your career, and only become a mother when the time is right.

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This article was published on What’s on Weibo.