Dear Armpits,

I grew you by accident, having forgot to bring a razor on a recent vacation to Belgium. I could’ve bought a pack during one of several shopping trips to the nearby grocery store, but you know what? As soon as I noticed those first precious millimeters of growth (both amazed and proud at how fast you sprouted), I felt like a Wild Woman: Fierce. Disruptive. Formidable. Sounds silly now. After all, it’s only a bit of hair. But at any rate, I resolved to let you flourish.

And then my father threatened to visit, and I thought flashing you, in all your burgeoning glory, might ruffle his Army captain sensibilities. I guess I was ready for a spot of rebellion, however small, and it seemed like a good place to start, with you. Turns out, his ass never even showed up.

But I wanted you to stay, even though, thinking back, “hairy” was one thing I never wanted to be. For chrissake, I started shaving everything, including my toes and the tops of my feet, of all things, at age 14! What would that girl say if she saw the state of you now, at 32? It doesn’t matter, because that chick is well dead and long buried under the weight of her limited and time-consuming convictions.

“But you don’t live in France,” my friends say after I tell them about you. That, or, “Wowza” or just, “Noooooo! Why?!”

Why not? Truth is, I didn’t give much thought about always, habitually, cutting you down. It just seemed like the thing women do. Since then, you’ve got me to consider other routines women carry out unquestioningly in the name of unobtrusive uniformity.

Now, two months in, you are lusher and denser than my boyfriend’s armpit hair. (Who knows what months three and four will bring?) And although I’ve got him conquered in the pit stakes, his masculinity has remained untarnished. Even better, he says he likes you a lot and that you’re a turn-on, which I hope is true, and even if it’s not, I’ve got your back. You’re not going anywhere. Fuck it.

In the shower, I’ve come to enjoy the ritual of gingerly soaping you up with my fingers and, on occasion, rubbing in a few squirts of conditioner because it leaves your fronds super-soft for stroking, perfect for when I’m deep in thought or besieged with anxiety.

And you still manage to pleasantly surprise me whenever I’m wearing a tank top and absentmindedly stretch toward the heavens or pull my hair back into a ponytail. But strangers stare at you, and twist their faces into a look of surprise or disgust or anguish upon realizing I have what looks like baby hedgehogs nesting under my arms.

I’ve come to like that part, though—antagonizing people in an innocuous way. I mean, it’s just hair. Their reaction reveals more about them than it does about us, as Mom used to say. Still, it’s allowed me to determine who’s worth my attention with only a quick upturn of my elbows (I’ve nicknamed the maneuver, “The Douche Detector Pop-Up”). So thanks for that- it’s saved me a lot of hassle recently.

So, please, keep on growin’, sisters, and don’t let anyone tell you you’re unwelcome in this world. I can’t wait to see how crazy and out-of-control you get. And in turn, how crazy and out-of-control I’m likely to get as a result. But, knowing me, I probably won’t change all that much. However, I am considering having a chat with these legs, feet, and toes soon. Maybe they should follow suit—whaddaya think?

Affectionately yours,