It was a rare 75 degrees Fahrenheit last weekend in Lille. FBF and I went to one of his friend’s houses with a pool. It was glorious.
One common reaction people had when I told people I was going to be living in France was, “France? You know the women don’t shave their armpits over there? And they all smell.”
Taking public transit all year long to work and back, I definitely encountered a smelly Frenchmen or two. However, I’ve also encountered horrible B.O. back on my home turf. It seems to me that the French not only invented soap and perfume, but they also know how to use both.
The hairy armpit stereotype, on the other hand, was harder to investigate. The weather being cold, rainy, damp, and altogether unpleasant most of the time, women were not walking about in tank tops.
This little pool outing was just the opportunity to really discover the truth about French armpits!
As it turned out, none of the girls had hairy armpits, but they weren’t the only ones with shaved underarms.
Before the pool adventure, I made fun of FBF for having shaved his armpits. Naturally, I called him a petite fille (little girl), and explained that in America men don’t shave their pits.
So once pool side, FBF took it upon himself to defend his masculinity. He asked the guys if they shaved their armpits. One by one, they flashed each other their underarms and compared the last time they shaved. Not a single one of them had a significant amount of hair under there.
What I want to know is, if both sexes shave their pits in France, why do Americans think no one does? Maybe the French became self-conscious and are now overcompensating?