At the dawn of 2013, after leading a buttoned-up life as a conservative Catholic, Maria Margolies decided it was time to let her hair down a bit.
So, she began growing out her underarm hair.
“It’s my body, it’s my choice,” Margolies, 42, a yoga teacher and mother of two from Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, told The Post. “I stopped shaving because I couldn’t come up with a good reason for why I was doing it in the first place.”
As a native of Bogotá, Colombia, Margolies — who moved to New York in 1999 — began shaving her underarms, eyebrows and legs at age 12 in accordance with cultural norms, which equated a hair-free body with femininity.
But she never liked the pressure she felt around grooming.
“Women are taught that it’s not OK to have body hair,” she said. “But I’m confident in my choice not to shave if I don’t want to. It’s empowering to stand my ground.”
Margolies, who touts her pro-hairy pits rhetoric to more than 446,000 followers on TikTok, echoes the sentiments of actress Rachel McAdams, 44.
The star of the upcoming film “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.,” McAdams unabashedly flaunted her au naturel underarms for the April 2023 edition of Bustle’s online magazine.
“This is my body, and I think that’s so important to reflect back out to the world,” McAdams said. “I love that juxtaposition of beauty, glam, fantasy, and then truth.”
She’s just one of many Hollywood heroines who are friendly to their follicles.
Singer Janelle Monáe, 37, flaunted her underarm fuzz in a shimmering Ralph Lauren gown at the 2022 Met Gala. A-listers Miley Cyrus, 30, Julia Roberts, 55, and Bella Thorne, 25, have also been hair and there.
Grooming norms seem to be yet another area in which Gen Zs and millennials are breaking from tradition.
A 2021 Body Image survey by data company YouGov found that 46% of Americans between the ages 16 and 34 have no preference on whether women should get rid of their underarm hair.
On social media, women such as Tasheena Rai, 28, are using the hashtag ArmpitHairIsNatural, which has over 38.9 million views, to spread the message.
“It’s empowering to be truly, authentically myself and not have to live up to the beauty standard of being clean shaven,” Rai, a professional photographer living near Indianapolis, Indiana, told The Post.
She quit razoring her underarms in October 2021 after getting an ingrown hair from excessive shaving.
Despite a few online detractors who have said her underarms are “gross” or “unladylike,” Rai says she’s never going back.
“I don’t care what people think about it,” she told The Post. “If you don’t like it, don’t look at me.”
SaRae Nixon, 20, a psychology major at Rowan College in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, agreed, telling The Post, “When people see my underarms, they’ll question me for not shaving or make comments about it looking ‘dirty,’ but I’m like, ‘Men don’t shave, and we don’t call them dirty.’”
Nixon stopped regularly shaving at 18 in 2020 under the advisement of her stepmother, a firm proponent of women embracing their body hair.
“This is how God made me,” said Nixon. “He wouldn’t have put hair there if it wasn’t meant to be there.”
Margolies, too, doesn’t allow negativity from haters shake her resolve.
“I don’t need anyone’s approvals,” she said. “I feel sorry for anyone who feels they need to be hateful toward me based on whether I shave or not.”