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Woman Who Used To Spend $120 A Month On Hair Removal Now Proudly Shows Off Her Armpit Hair On Instagram

Woman Who Used To Spend $120 A Month On Hair Removal Now Proudly Shows Off Her Armpit Hair On Instagram
Brenna Pennly (Collect/ PA Real Life)

A "hairy woman" whose ex-boyfriend once remarked on her "mustache" to his mom has "seen the light" after years of waxing, lasering, and shaving, and now proudly posts pictures of her 6cm long armpit hair on Instagram.

After her mother gave her a razor when she was just 11, it triggered an instant obsession with fighting her fuzz-covered body, which saw mom-of-two Brenna Pennly, 31, spending $120 a month having hair removed from six areas at a local beauty clinic.

But in 2017, single Brenna, a psychology student, of Boise, Idaho, had an epiphany – ditching her razor and instead sharing snaps of her unshaven armpits with her 24,000 online followers, hoping to inspire others to "embrace their bodies."

Determined to encourage women to "reclaim their power" over their bodies, Brenna – who, since November 2018 has only been removing the hair on her face, said:

"I didn't want to just be that girl who posted pictures of her armpit hair on Instagram. I wanted to find some meaning in what I was doing."
"So, as my page grew, I started making my posts about body choice and about women having self-love. I want to encourage other women to embrace their bodies."
"Society tells women they should shave – just because they're female. I say, 'So what? Only shave if you want to.'"

Brenna Pennly (Collect/ PA Real Life)

She added:

"Every woman has the right to have authority over their body and to make their own decisions. Gender should not come into it."

Brenna, who has an eight-year-old son and five-year-old daughter with her previous partner, but does not wish to name them, admits she has not always felt this self-assured.

She said:

"I was a hairy kid and I remember feeling very uncomfortable about it. You know what kids are like. A couple commented on how hairy I was – I had a hairy face, legs and arms – and I became instantly insecure about it."

Brenna Pennly (Collect/ PA Real Life)

She added:

"I used to go into school wearing long sleeved tops, so no one could see my arms."

So, aged just 11, Brenna – who was a raised in a Mormon household, a devout religious sect, in south east Idaho – was given a razor by her mother, who knew how insecure her daughter was, and she began to shave obsessively.

"I was very studious about shaving," she recalled. "I started shaving my arms and my legs every day."

Continuing her shaving rituals into her teens, Brenna, who has never been officially diagnosed with any condition related to her hair growth, also started telling people about the body hair they could not see.

"I didn't just have hairy legs and arms, I had a hairy face and back too," she said. "But one day I thought, 'S*d it, I'm going to own it.' So, I'd go around telling people I had a hairy back, just to gauge their reaction.

"Or, if someone was down about themselves – maybe complaining if they were a bit tubby or short – I'd say something like, 'Don't worry I've got a hairy back.'"

Brenna Pennly (Collect/ PA Real Life)

Thankfully, growing up in a tight knit community, as a teenager, Brenna did not experience too much negativity about her hair.

"I did date one guy who told me, 'You've got a mustache,' in front of his mom, who quickly scolded him for it. But that was my only really negative experience," she said.

Still, Brenna went to great lengths to remove her body hair, obsessively shaving every day and, as she moved into her twenties, waxing, too.

Brenna Pennly (Collect/ PA Real Life)

"I was the classic woman," she said. "I shaved daily and waxed, too. I was very much a part of the female tradition of keeping up my grooming."

Then, in 2015, aged 28, she discovered laser hair removal and her grooming rituals stepped up another gear.

"I found this laser hair removal clinic near me that offered monthly membership packages for $60 where you could get three areas of hair removed every month," she explained.

"I actually bought a double membership, so for $120 I could get six areas of hair removed," she added.

"I'd get the hair on my chest, stomach, back, legs, feet, and face removed, and I'd get a Brazilian done too. I couldn't get my arms lasered because I had tattoos."

For the next two years, Brenna continued to make monthly visits to the laser clinic – even though she was not entirely satisfied with the results.

Brenna Pennly (Collect/ PA Real Life)

"The laser hair removal wasn't effective for me," she said. "I still had patches of hair on my legs. The only place it seemed to work was on my back."

But, as a mother of two young children, she found it increasingly difficult to keep up her daily shaving routine and stay on top of the patchy hairs on her legs.

Increasingly irritated by the need to continuously shave her armpits, she said:

"My armpits were the worst bit. Every time I'd shave them, they'd come up in a rash, or if I put on a little bit of weight, the stubble would rub against me and it was actually quite painful."

Brenna Pennly (Collect/ PA Real Life)

Then, an incident with her daughter in October 2017 sparked an epiphany.

She said:

"My daughter had started hating having her hair brushed and washed, but I still did it every day. But my son had short hair, so I'd just let him get on with it."
"Then, one day, my daughter was really upset, and I thought, 'Why am I putting her through this?' Then I realized – it was because she's a girl."

She continued:

"I didn't think that was right so I asked her, 'Would you like your hair cut?' and she said she would. So, we cut it into a pretty pixie cut and bought her some headbands."
"It made me think, 'Why am I constantly shaving my armpits even though I hate doing it?'"
"I realized it was simply because I was a woman and I felt like I had to. But I quickly realized that just because I was I woman it didn't mean I had to shave my armpits at all."

Brenna Pennly (Collect/ PA Real Life)

She added:

"I didn't want to be defined by gender anymore and I wanted to take back control of my body."

Brenna, who more or less simultaneously turned her back on her Mormon religion – and even though it had been a very important part of her life she struggled to believe the founding story and subsequently lost her faith – then vowed to stop shaving her armpits, although she continued to have the rest of her body lasered.

"When I saw the technician, they'd ask, 'Would you like your armpits done too?'" she said. "I'd tell her no because I thought it was cool and she'd just laugh. She thought I was being funny."

Brenna Pennly (Collect/ PA Real Life)

But Brenna became so comfortable with her 6cm long armpit hair that, in November 2017, she posted a snapshot of it on social media.

"I'd told a few people I'd been growing out my armpit hair and they told me it was gross," she said.

"So, one day, I was feeling sassy and a bit rebellious – I kind of wanted to be in their face and posted a picture of my armpit hair on Instagram."

She added:

"I just posted it to my normal everyday Instagram account – but suddenly, more and more people started following me."

After posting pictures on a daily basis, her popularity grew tenfold, prompting Brenna to devote an entire account to pictures of her armpit hair.

"I never knew so many people wanted to see pictures of armpits," she laughed. "After a while, I started getting thousands of followers – I couldn't believe it."

Brenna Pennly (Collect/ PA Real Life)

She continued:

"I got so much positive attention – although a lot of it was sexual. People would say things like, 'Oh, your armpits are so sexy,' or ask if I was hairy somewhere else."
"Of course, I got some negative comments, but that just comes to be expected with social media."
"I only ever get annoyed when people feel like they could objectify me. I don't mind being sexy, but when people think I should answer questions about my own body that annoys me."

Determined not to just make her account about her armpits, Brenna now uses her platform to encourage other women to embrace their bodies.

"I really want to inspire women to love themselves no matter what and to be happy with who they are," she said.

"There's so much pressure on women nowadays to look or act a certain way and my page is all about ignoring the pressure and encouraging women to just have self-love."

Brenna Pennly (Collect/ PA Real Life)

Armed with her newfound confidence, in November 2018, Brenna decided to go the whole way and stop shaving, lasering and waxing everywhere – besides her face.

"The first few times I went out in public having not shaved anything I was embarrassed and scared," she recalled. "I was worried it would dampen my sex appeal. But it hasn't – if anything it's done the opposite."

"I only shave my face now – because I want to, not because I feel like I have too."

Brenna Pennly (Collect/ PA Real Life)

While shaving her armpits does not suit her now, she also refuses to commit to staying hairy forever.

"I'd never say never to anything," she said.

"But then, why would I shave my armpits? I'd never shave for someone else if they didn't like it- I'd only do it for me."

Brenna Pennly (Collect/ PA Real Life)

She concluded:

"The way I see it, it's my life, my body, my business and it should only be down to me."
"Women put too much pressure on themselves – but your worth isn't defined by what society thinks, it is defined by who you want to be."

Follow Brenna on Instagram @brennapennly