Reality TV can expose a person in ways she might never have imagined.

That was the case Wednesday night for Maine’s Ashley Underwood when cameras caught her having her armpit hairs plucked by another woman on the CBS reality show “Survivor: Redemption Island.”

Underwood, 26, survived the episode because her tribe won an immunity challenge so none of the members could be voted off. But whether she can live down having her armpits plucked on national TV is another story.

This season of “Survivor” was filmed on the beaches of Nicaragua in the fall and began airing weekly on Feb. 16. The season began with 18 contestants from around the country vying for the show’s $1 million prize.

Underwood, a school nurse from Benton, was a star on the University of Maine basketball team, topping 1,000 career points. She was also Miss Maine in 2009.

On Wednesday’s episode, she mentioned her basketball and pageant experience to defend taking a “spa day” in the sand with fellow contestant Natalie Tenerelli. The camera caught Tenerelli plucking hairs from Underwood’s armpit at one point.

“If you can make yourself more comfortable, why not?” Underwood said, facing the camera. “I’m not lazy, I played basketball and did pageants.”

The spa day clearly irked Phillip Sheppard — a member of the Ometepe tribe along with Tenerelli and Underwood. He was upset that the two women weren’t helping with the various chores needed for the group to survive, including making fires and fetching water.

“I’ve asked you guys four times to help get firewood and you ignore me,” Sheppard said to Underwood. “You’ve laid around here all day. This is not a beauty pageant.”

Underwood tried to laugh off Sheppard’s rant, which took up at least a couple minutes of the one-hour show. Later, she said to the camera, “I’m done with him.”

Tension and divisions within a tribe are important on “Survivor” because people get voted off the show during a “tribal council” near the end of each episode. So if someone in your tribe who doesn’t like you has incentive to get others to vote you off.

But Underwood didn’t have to worry about being voted off on Wednesday’s episode because her tribe beat the other tribe, Zapatera, in the episode’s challenge.

The challenge featured tribe members using giant slingshots to fire balls into the air, and other members trying to catch them in nets on sticks. Underwood stopped an opponent from catching a ball at one point, but didn’t figure much in the challenge, as other tribe members scored the needed points.

But she did get to take part in the reward, a picnic meal served to the tribe. For one day at least, they didn’t have to hunt and scavenge for food.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

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