A gender studies teacher is encouraging her students to rethink hair.
Breanne Fahs, an associate professor of women and gender studies at Arizona State University, offers female students extra credit if they choose to stop shaving their armpit hair, according to a recent profile on Fahs by ASU News. The educator offers male students extra credit if they opt to shave from the neck down.
Fahs, who has offered the boost since 2010, says the extra credit option is a way for students to learn about prescribed gender norms and personal agency.
“There’s no better way to learn about societal norms than to violate them and see how people react,” Fahs told ASU News. “There’s really no reason why the choice to shave, or not, should be a big deal. But it is, as the students tend to find out quickly.”
Students have to maintain their new hair-scapes for 10 weeks and keep a journal to track the experiment.
Reactions to news of the extra credit assignment have been varied.
"This university experiment should be unnecessary as women should be free to decide whether of not to shave under their arms," one commenter wrote in response to The Guardian's story about the project. "Many beautiful women have looked lovely with natural underarms, such as Sophia Loren ... The female underarm shaving norm should be obsolete in the modern age."
Another commenter on BuzzFeed said: "This is beyond stupid. No wonder our educational system is in the toilet and the rest of the developed world outlaps us technologically."
In 1915, Gillette debuted the first razor specifically tailored for women, according to Elle. Soon after, the first ad of a woman with hairless armpits appeared in a fashion magazine.