Hair or Bare: A Pubic Service Announcement

This post is about grooming choices for erogenous zones. Image is safe for work, but subject matter may not be!

brazilian_waxing

Pubic grooming is a topic that comes up frequently in my conversation with my friends. Dishing about the in-between bits with a trusted confidant makes for a fun, not to mention fascinating coffee date.  Most people I’ve talked to aren’t terribly picky when it comes to the aesthetics of their partners’ parts. As one pal put it, “If you’ve put some effort into the presentation, that’s nice. But the bottom line is, if I’m about to have sex you I’m going to be excited what’s down there no matter what it look like.”

Interesting. But what I’ve also discovered is that some of us aren’t quite as carefree when it comes to our own coiffing our own genitalia

Pornography is a powerful catalyst and its influence has pushed many a trend into the mainstream. VHS. Blu-ray. The Internet. And of course, the Brazilian bikini wax.

When I was 15, a light application of depilatory along one’s bikini line was considered the height of sophistication amongst my girlfriends.  By the time I hit 30, attitudes towards pubic hair seemed to have shifted to something more along the lines of  TAKE IT OFF! TAKE IT *ALL* OFF!

I was a something of a gym bunny at that time. In the change room, it became clear that something was up. Something being a baldness epidemic. Almost every day, a new set of freshly exposed labia would saunter out from the shower and join the ranks. Those people seemed chuffed by their hair loss. Getting Brazilianed seemed to connote something a bit saucy and forbidden – it was the lambada of the twenty first century.

And it did take too long before the locker room consensus on waxing went from naughty to necessary.  “We can’t just let it all hang out anymore. It’s important to tidy it up,” someone told me as we were changing out of our yoga pants. And she wasn’t the only one. During our local university frosh week, I gave a sex 101 workshop that included anatomical diagrams of male and female genitals. Several people were surprised to see hair around the vulva.

“I didn’t know girls had hair down there,” one young man told me. I tried not to let the surprise register on my face but inside, I was shocked. What the eff was going on? Were pubes no longer happening? Had they been voted off the island.

The more people around me started going bare, the more determined I became to keep my bush. I wasn’t going to let society strip me of my nether locks! Important? Tidy? Feh! I was going to fight the power by staying full-force fuzzy!

Truthfully I was fine with my hair. But deep down, I did really like the look of smooth pubic skin. I also had strong suspicions that I would enjoy the way it felt. I’ve always liked running my hands along my skin when it’s smooth, which is why I keep my legs shaved, even in winter.  And I was intrigued by the thought of being able to see my own nooks, crannies and the clitoris that were obscured by hair.

Some years later, I was in a play that required being on stage in my underpants. Despite a relatively modest style, the stage lights made it difficult to keep my pubic ‘fro discreet. So I took the plunge and I submitted to the Brazilian. I gotta be honest –  that shit HURT!  But only for a moment of two.  And when it was done, I was entirely okay with how I looked.  More than okay. I felt great both physically and emotionally. Going bare didn’t just work for the part I was playing, it worked for me. The play closed ten days later and I made a second appointment with the waxer.

The moral of this story isn’t, “You should totally get a Brazilian because once you try it, you’ll like it!” That was my experience but it wouldn’t necessarily be yours. But I did learn a couple things from my adventures in pubis. I learned that there is a difference between rejecting a trend because it doesn’t work for you and rejecting it specifically because it is a trend. I also realized that sometimes it is possible to participate in a practice while still looking at it through a critical lens.

I have a big problem with using words like “neat” “clean” or “hygenic” to describe pubic hair. Those words imply that keeping your hair is the opposite of that. Which is crap. If you’re a person who washes regularly, your pubes will be as clean as the rest of you.

I wouldn’t tell someone that they couldn’t or shouldn’t “let it all hang out.” Let it all hang out. Maybe you feel happier or sexier or better that way. Or maybe it doesn’t matter to you. It doesn’t have to. It’s your body and they’re your bits.

If I could wave my magic wand and make this The World According To Nadine, personal grooming would not be motivated by shame, mandated by popularity, or seen as an act of definace. It would mostly be about our personal tastes and what works for each individual person.

So whether it’s hair or bare, I encourage you to rock whatever pubic style that works best for you.

Until we meet again!

Image courtesy Joao Philipe CS

_ _ _

Already Pretty contributor Nadine Thornhill is a sex educator and blogger at Adorkable Undies. She is also a burlesque performer, poet and playwright, living in Ottawa, Ontario – Canada’s national capital. Her writing tends toward subjects such as clitorises, feminism, vibrators, body image, gender politics and non-monogamy. She is a passionately committed Scrabble player and lifelong klutz, having sustained 16 concussions to date.

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78 Responses to “Hair or Bare: A Pubic Service Announcement”

  1. Alex

    From one sex educator to another 🙂

    I first started waxing it all off a few years ago. Prior to that, I would use a razor to trim up side bits as necessary–pale skin + thick, dark hair–but never delved further than that because, frankly, I’m blind as a bat without my glasses and never wanted to risk cutting my labia (or worse!) in the shower. An opportunity to get waxed by a highly rated skin care professional for free presented itself and I thought “well, why the hell not?” and went for it. Personally, I love getting rid of my pubic hair. I was always getting ingrowns, it would get itchy, and that’s not even covering the summertime bikini issues. My favorite part of the whole thing is how much more *fun* everything feels, especially the first day or two after waxing. Unaware that increased sensitivity (or awareness of, at least) might be a side effect, I texted my roommate, who was no stranger to Brazilians herself, something along the lines of, “Oh my god, did this thing and now everything makes me, well… wet! How?!” to which she probably responded with a winking smiley face. For me, that’s where the sexy/naughty feelings come from.

    That all said, I don’t remotely feel as though pubic hair removal is or should ever be mandatory. Mainstream culture perpetuates the idea that it’s unsexy, unfeminine, unmanageable, and outdated, but that’s a load of crap. The fact of the matter is, if you don’t like your hair, you have the option of getting rid of it. If you like it, please, keep it! I know plenty of people–men and women of all varieties of sexual orientations–who think pubic hair is the sexiest thing, and even some who are turned off by partners without any. Regardless of what you do, know that it’s a personal choice and no one’s opinion about your pubic ‘do is more important than your own.

  2. Moira

    I really find the trend of waxing down there to be profoundly disturbing. I keep things reasonably trim, but if I started listing the things that are a better use of my time and money than having people rip out my pubic hair, I would never stop making that list. Any guy who has a problem with that stuff is a guy with a problem, IMO. I try really hard not to judge people who do it, and I recognize that it feels good in its own right, but to me it’s just one of the weirdest, ugliest things pop culture has told us to do to women’s bodies in a really long time. No, no, a thousand times no, not ever.

    • LisaZ

      I’m with you, Moira, on both the being grossed out by it, offended by its cultural implications, AND trying not to judge those who do it. As long as you’re doing it for yourself, I guess…but I still can’t comprehend it.

    • Norma

      I too am bothered by it deeply. I don’t like what it says of a culture where women want to look prepubescent and men are shocked when the don’t. I’m also always asking “what’s next” and can’t imagine… are we going to start binding our chest in order to look like 11 year olds?

  3. R.M. Koske

    Sorry, Nadine, this isn’t really a comment about your post (excellent, but I don’t have much of a comment about it beyond that).

    My comment is about site layout and structure and this post happened to make me wanna say it. Is there any way posts can be credited at the TOP? I was kinda surprised when I discovered that the writer had gotten and maintained a Brazilian because Sally has previously said they don’t work well with her body. So I was mystified about who I was reading since I’d started out expecting Sally.

    I love the new writers at Already Pretty – a variety of bodies and perspectives is awesome. But especially on posts that don’t lead with a clothing shot of the writer, it’s confusing to not have the credit up top.

    • Sally

      R.M., glad you’re enjoying the contributor posts! I’m loving them, too.

      If you look just below the post title, you’ll see Nadine’s name there. This is true both on the live website (by NADINE on FEBRUARY 12, 2013 · 7 COMMENTS) and in Google Reader (by Nadine). Hope that helps!

      • izabela

        But it’s barely noticeable. I, too, would appreciate to see the blurb at the very top.

          • Kate

            Another vote in agreement….the byline is VERY small and everytime I read a post by a contributor who is not Sally, I don’t realize it until the very end. It seems I’m not the only one…

            • Gel

              I was also thrown for a loop, thinking this post was Sally’s until the end! I knew the names are in gray at the top, but it’s so understated I don’t notice it. Maybe a small avatar of the contributor at the top of each post would draw more attention to the identity of the writer.

      • Amber

        Yeah, I did the same thing some others did. I know the byline is up there, but I tend to just skip right by that because it’s pretty understated. Eventually when I got to the part talking about being in a play in underpants, I thought to look up and find the byline. Sure enough, it wasn’t Sally!

        Not really a big deal, but it’s something that can throw the reader for a loop.

      • Devon

        Maybe you could put an additional, colored blurb that says “guest” or something similar next to the name of the contributor?

  4. Bree Bronson

    OMG Nadine I’m laughing my butt off here: “I didn’t know girls have hair down there.” 😀 This is a great post. The take-it-all-off trend has been present here for a long time already as well (I live in Finland, Europe and no, it’s not true what they say in the movies about European girls that they don’t shave ;). The funny thing I find is that this trend doesn’t seem to apply to guys at all, at least not here (how about in the States?).

    I’ve been in situations when guys discuss how sexy they think it is when girls wax off their pubic hair. And how unsexy it is if they don’t. If the guys are then told that in that case the same thing applies to them the whole gang goes like “dudes shaving – totally gay!! Hair is masculine and sexy”. They usually shut up if they’re told that it’s actually us girls who decide whether pubic hair is sexy on guys or not. Even my Husband (ok, he says a lot of unbelievable stuff if you’ve read my blog) told me I looked like a beaver when I had a pause with waxing. That’s when I handed him a razor blade, told him to tidy up big time down there and grow the beard on his chin if he wishes to have one. It worked.

    I’ve been shaving/waxing down there for more than 10 years already. I like how my skin feels, I’m quite hairy so I get huge bikini line issues if I let it grow and guys like it as well. When I’m shaved I get, how to put it, better service. 😉 I like to leave a stripe of hair in the middle though because I don’t want my parts to look similar with my 1-year old daughters’. I think the same thing about guys: I appreciate if the guy has put some effort on grooming (the tree also looks bigger without long grass growing under it 😉 but I seriously think it looks a bit funny if a grown-up, often also otherwise hairy guy has shaved it all off. But guys, do trim! At least I appreciate it.

  5. LinB

    My mother confessed once that she thought it was incredibly sexy when a woman’s pubic hairs hung out of her bathing suit or underpants, if the only person who would see them was her husband or her lover (not that my mother had a lover other than my father, but this mythical hairy woman … oh, never mind). I grew up at the tag end of the 70s, when women of my generation didn’t shave anything, in protest of society’s imposed standards of artifice necessary to achieve “beauty.” It was only in the 80s that the hair-removal thing started gaining ground. Tried depilatories on my legs and armpits — they didn’t work. (They don’t work for lots of women.) Shaved my nether area one time, but my husband didn’t even notice, and letting it grow back was extremely itchy.

  6. LK

    I tried it first in an effort to reduce the amount of yeast infections I was getting and it worked. I ran out of things to try for this issue I re-discovered in my 20s and had as a baby. Grant it, you don’t need to remove it all for that just make it really short. But I ended up liking it so I just kept it. It does require good razors if you do it yourself and lotions and shaving after gels (bikini zone is awesome and I use Aveeno face lotion). I dunno, I tried to go back once my life long problem with infections seemed to be gone and I just couldn’t I was so uncomfortable when it came back in. But I see no reason that anyone should feel they *have* to remove it. Should be a woman’s choice. And it is a pain to keep up.

  7. Jenni

    i’m another one who is troubled by this trend. I worry that it is a manifestation of our youth obsessed culture. who has bald pubes? pre-pubescent girls.

    as the mother of a 13 y.o. girl, i’m concerned about how our culture sexualizes girls from such a young age. I don’t think adult women going around with bald pubes (and encouraging men to think that bald pubes are sexy) helps the next generation of girls to grow up loving and accepting their bodies as they go through the many stages of adult life – motherhood, middle age, etc. I want them to think that having a healthy, ever-changing, adult female body is a good thing – and not to compare themselves to heidi klum.

    with that said, I do keep mine trimmed very short, precisely because it feels better. and I am all in favor of women feeling in control of their bodies and their sexuality, whatever that means for each of us. I just think it’s worth a little reflection – why does it make us feel sexier? whose standards are we using? through whose lens are we looking at our own bodies? why do we always have to keep our bodies under control? (keep it tight! keep it clean! keep it young! keep it neat!)

    • sarah

      precisely. Your concerns are what make bald pubes a turn-OFF for me; in the locker room showers, I can’t help but think “this is another way we infantilize women, keep them controlled, make them small.” Or rather, in Southern California I thought that.

      Up in the crunchy NW, my locker room is populated by women running wild and free and natural.

      • Yelena

        Damn straight. I’m a grown woman, not a girl. Women have secondary sex characteristics. Individuals can do whatever they like, but the assumption that we *have* to? No way.

  8. Jessica

    This post is so great! I love being on a forum where discussion is open and honest — I always get excited to discuss lady part things with other women.

    I have been shaving mine since I starting being sexually active (so, about 8 years ago) and kept doing so because, well, when the hairs started to grow back, they were itchy! It sort of became a habit with me and I never gave it much thought until recently — just last month — my boyfriend had mentioned how it might be fun for me to grow it out. So, I did. And it excited him a lot. It was so interesting to think about something like that, especially since he typically makes comments against hair “down there.” It’s been something new for us to explore together and who knows what I may start doing with it?

  9. Sarah

    Esh…this is a strange issue for me. I actually commented a while back on a post Sal wrote about about this topic, and I mentioned that I feel shame for not wanting to be completely bare down there. I just can’t deal with the upkeep, the expense, the itchiness, the pain – that goes for waxing, Nair, or shaving. No thank you! I was extremely awed by the responses I got to my comment – most stating that back in the day, women with bushes were considered sexy, adult women, and that not all men prefer a bare look, and that a lot of women don’t either.

    My attitude toward this topic is the same as my attitude toward any “beauty” topic: this is a money-making industry. The industry wants to make money. The industry creates a false standard of “beauty” that requires money to be spent. Women spend money. The industry is happy. Women are not.

    These days, I rock the full bush proudly. I use small scissors (which I already owned) to trim, trim, trim it down so it’s not too “bushy”…but I don’t care about how much space on my body it covers. I leave the natural borders…the acreage if you will, to their own devices. Whenever I try to change the borders, I end up with bumps, burns, and in-grown hairs, so I gave up that battle. I do think having it trimmed makes wiping/hygiene/masturbation/sex a little but easier, but I just refuse to buy into the idea that I am supposed to look like a baby down there. These pubes are proof that I am a grown up, adult woman and I’ve decided to wear them proudly.

  10. joy

    In college, I shaved for a boyfriend. We were on and off, which meant that my down-there upkeep was also on and off. It made me hate the whole process – the itchiness, the unbearable wait for it to grow back – ugh! That went on for a couple of years. I never waxed – just shaved. When the boyfriend that eventually became my husband started sleeping over, I started shaving again because I thought guys liked that. He didn’t like it much, and I was SO relived. How can I feel sexy with a crotch full of red bumps? Now I trim about once a month to help with sweating and to minimize any discharge that gets caught in the hair. I very much like the trimmed look.

  11. anotherjen

    I’m a former sexual health educator and I also find this trend disturbing for a variety of reasons. My reaction to this issue is very strong and overtly feminist, and it is based on my work with young people and my own personal experience.

    The first one is that it yet another way in which women feel pressure to conform our bodies to fit a sexualized ideal, and I’m sorry but there is a lot of pressure out there. No matter how many times we say “it’s a woman’s choice!” it is not a choice made without societal pressure…so not really a choice as much as a compromise we make with the patriarchy. Evidence of this is how completely unacceptable it is for women to be hairy in our culture. Women with body hair, or any hair considered extraneous, are almost never shown in the media, and if someone appears in the media with a bit of armpit hair it’s a major deal. So this isn’t about choices, it is about imposing a particular aesthetic that disciplines women’s bodies, that involves women in the work of maintaining their femininity in yet another way, and degrades women who do not participate. Until we actually have wide-spread acceptance for body hair on women we cannot claim that it is a choice that women make of our own free will.

    Second, I share Jenni’s concerns about how this aesthetic keeps women looking like children, and then connects this to sex and sexuality without any critical viewpoint on this link. Concerns about the sexualization of children are legitimate, as are concerns about the infantilization of adult women through the literal stripping away of one of our secondary sexual characteristics. When women, often already struggling to be seen as adults in a culture that demands youthfulness (at least in how we look), are asked to voluntarily remove signs of our adulthood in the very places where we should be proud and loving of our adult bodies and the adult bodies of others adds insult to injury. Why participate in things that turn us back into children? Why are we so afraid of adult women, and if we are women of ourselves? These are the kinds of questions that need to be asked and discussed about the practice of removing most or all of our pubic hair (not to mention other body hair).

    Third point. Celebrating adult bodies and adult sexuality is very important for many reasons, and diversity in body hair is just as important as stressing that different shapes of bodies are okay if we want to make room for everyone to be comfortable in their own bodies and in their own (smooth or furry) skins. Cultural cues that say “removing pubic hair is the norm” are just as destructive as those that dictate what size women should be, and to claim otherwise is hypocritical.

    I would like to say that I am a pretty hairy person and I resent the fact that in order to be socially acceptable I have to shave the parts of myself that are on display to the public in order to be considered someone worth hiring, capable of teaching, a “good mother,” etc. Whether or not I enjoy the feeling of how smooth my skin is after removing hair from it is beside the point because I have learned through experience that when I just let the hair be people can’t accept it and I pay a price in loss of social acceptance and status, and in one case a job. People make comments and give me funny looks and I have lost employment because of it – their problem becomes my problem.

    But I draw the line (literally) at shaving my pubic hair. It stays. And that fact that this is a radical, political act speaks volumes about how we define “choice” when it comes to women’s bodies.

    • Grace

      YAY! LOVE your answer.

      We all know we’re supposed to say women can choose whatever they like, etc…
      and then we say,
      that being said, I shave/trim/tweeze/don’t feel right if I’m not “groomed”…

      As if WE are somehow immune to norms and mainstream versions of acceptability.

    • Rudyinparis

      I also love this response. I am pro-choice, so I will support the right of women to inject silicone into their chests, have their faces cut, and put hot wax on their genitals for a procedure that makes them resemble a child. But that doesn’t mean I like it. That it is framed as a choice that is to be celebrated and is, somehow, on a personal level “outside” the influence of culturally established (patriarchal) norms makes me ill. My heart breaks for my daughters.

    • Chelsea

      Agree 110%. Of course women “like” having no pubes, they are socially rewarded for it. How did this happen? How did we decide it’s okay to mandate paying a ton of money to endure severe genital/ass pain? Multiple women I know will actually avoid sex if they have any visible pubic hair. When did sex stop being about fun?

      • M

        “Multiple women I know will actually avoid sex if they have any visible pubic hair. When did sex stop being about fun?”

        Really?! You ought to point out to them that that choice might be worthy of some introspection. Seriously, I cannot even fathom this. My SO prefers the bare look but on occasion I just don’t bother to shave and not once has it “put a damper” on the situation, so to speak.

    • Louisa

      anotherjen, you verbalized what I was thinking so much better than I ever could. Thank you!

    • Olivia

      *APPLAUSE* You have articulated the problem with this trend*.

      *I don’t know if it can even still be called a trend since it is now so widespread that there are young men who don’t even know adult women grown pubic hair.

    • Marla

      Overtly feminist? LOL,

      I was reading through the comments for this response! Exactly what I was thinking.

    • anna

      excellent, just excellent. nothing drives me nuts like the justification ‘i do this for me!’ it doesn’t matter whether or not it makes you feel good. it matters that socially, you don’t actually have a choice between two equal options. you either do what patriarchy tells you and get rewarded, or you don’t, and get slammed. free will doesn’t exist in that scenario.

  12. ClaraT

    As Moira said, “…if I started listing the things that are a better use of my time and money than having people rip out my pubic hair, I would never stop making that list.” So true!

    That said, to each her own. No judgement from me if you do (groom down there) or if you don’t. It’s your body, and don’t you forget it.

  13. Litenarata

    “I didn’t know girls had hair down there” is a horrifying statement and indicates the sad state our society is in. Not only does he not have a clue about the body of an adult woman, all the women he’s heard about or been with are conforming to the hairless trend.

    I used to shave but the only reason I started was because of a boyfriend who made a comment. Until then, I was perfectly happy and didn’t have any idea that my grooming was socially unacceptable.

    Also, I don’t understand why this debate is always “giant bush vs Brazilian”. It’s super-easy and painless to simply take a pair of small scissors and trim it all down very short once in awhile. No pain, no ingrown hairs, no money involved, and it’s not in the way when you have visitors.

    • Gisele

      Well said, Litenarata!! Also, bravo alsojen!!! This whole discussion is making me very happy.

    • anna

      scares me too. reminds me of the victorian era, when john ruskin fainted in horror and then refused to consummate his marriage when he discovered his (15 year old) bride had pubic hair.

  14. Devon

    I do something that I haven’t heard anyone else talk about. I shave everything from my clit downwards, so the labia, etc., are nude, but I have a pretty full “V” shape of hair at the top. A landing meadow more than a landing strip, you could say. Nobody could mistake my genitals for a child’s, but I still benefit from that nifty smooth feeling on the most sensitive areas.

    Like many who have commented, I get bad ingrown hairs on my inner thighs and the spot where I leave hair, which is part of the reason I leave it there. But also, I personally dislike the aesthetics of a completely bald area. I let it all grow out at times (when I’m not dating, I will just trim from time to time). I once met a man who was so taken with my dense pubic hair that he was positively gushing with compliments and ardor! Most of the guys I’ve dated have said that shaving is up to me. Only one of them said he preferred to have me shaved somewhat, but that it wasn’t a deal-breaker at all. I’ve never had a guy turn me down because I wouldn’t shave it all off.

  15. Olivia

    I’m in the camp that is troubled by the trend. Not only in it’s association with being pre-pubescent, but also for it being another (possibly) expensive beauty routine women are expected to do.

    On a personal note, I have never waxed, but I shaved nearly all of my pubic hair off a couple of times and I did not like the feel of it. I don’t do anything now and am perfectly comfortable. (I have kind of thin hair though).

  16. MeMeMe

    I have shaved, I have waxed. I let it grow as it wants to. I like my pubic hair.

  17. Gillian

    AMEN Anotherjen, would love to quote your thoughts to my teenaged cousins (who are mortified to learn that I don’t remove all my hair!)

  18. Em

    I really appreciate the comments here! Really insightful and reflect a lot of my own feelings regarding pressure on women and their sexuality.

    After spending my high school years with a ‘landing strip’ because it was ‘sexy’, I experimented with going bare (shaving, never waxing, ouch! – and my boyfriend tried it too). I found a few things: 1) I don’t like the look, I feel like a baby especially when I’m chubbier. 2) I actually was more smelly and unclean (literally) – guess the hair serves a purpose. 3) Pubic stubble is much less pleasant that pubic hair. 4) Upkeep is a b*tch. So my desire to keep my bush and opposition to the Brazilian look is both in principle and pragmatic.

    So, while I will admit I have internalized a lot of social norms about women’s body hair, and shave my armpits, legs, and bikini line (what shows outside of a bathing suit), I keep (the rest of) my pubic hair. I have a naturally pretty minimal ‘bush’ and I will trim close to the labia when my boyfriend asks (only to make our ‘personal interactions’ easier). Oh, and actually, I ask him to shave areas of himself I come into regular contact with, but once he shaved everything and I asked him not to because like with women, I find it weird for an adult man to be ‘bare down there’.

    The only thing that I ‘miss out on’ by not going bare is the fact that I’ve realized lacy or mesh underwear really looks kinda dumb with pubes underneath. But it’s not like I won’t wear it.

  19. Emily

    I’m kind of torn on this issue. I personally shave everything because it feels more comfortable to me, having hair there has always been “itchy” for some reason. I don’t really get shaving bumps so it’s a good fit for me. I am glad, though, that my boyfriend of many years has told me he doesn’t mind any way I’d like to groom. The reason I’m torn here is because (I think) It is equally popular for men to do extensive hair removal these days. If so, is it really some ploy to infantilize women or just a beauty trend like tanning or eyebrow grooming?

    • LK

      My boyfriend does hair removal and trimming too. So do some male friends. Bald no because frankly for a man that could REALLY hurt depending on where it grows. But this seems to be a grooming trend for both sexes in some way.

      And I hear you on the always itchy. Way more comfortable without it.

  20. Amber

    I’m pretty natural and unshaven. The only time I’ve ever trimmed/shaved anywhere around the pubes is to shave the bikini line years ago, and even that was a headache. I don’t even have to do that anymore, because now I own a bathing suit that covers that area.

    I’m also not sexually active, so I can be selfish with my hair-trimming choices. 🙂 I’ve often wondered if finding the right guy will mean that I will have to revisit the whole pubic hair thing. I don’t think I would do a Brazilian (I know this is going to sound weird…but I kind of *like* my pubic hair? Especially when I’m taking a bath at night.), but I might have to at least trim the beast a little bit.

    • Gisele

      I had never heard of Amanda Palmer before. This is brilliant. I love the rollers.

      Thanks for sharing!!

  21. Mimi

    45 years old and married. I’ve never shaved or trimmed other than the bikini line was which was the standard in my single days. Now, I don’t even shave above the knee anymore, even in summer! I just shaved below the knee last weekend for the first time in a couple of months.

  22. M

    An article in Glamour prompted me to go completely bare. I had no idea people did more than trim/shave around that area until then. My circle of friends would never discuss such a thing and I wasn’t sexually active at the time so I did it more out of curiosity than societal pressure. I continued because I had a job as a summer camp counselor that had me in a bathing suit several days a week and it was faster to shave it all off rather than tidy up. Once that job ended I decided I preferred a “landing strip” . My SO on the other hand prefers bare…but he is a recovered porn addict so I indulge him.

  23. Sara

    A close friend of mini is a doctor who worked in Obs/Gyn and GU clinics for years. She told me she has seen some horrors coming into the clinic after waxing or other hair removal of this kind becuase in her words, that part of the body just isn’t meant to be hairless or be subjected to any of those hair removal methods. And she would regularly have legs/armpits and maybe bikini line waxed. Even if you don’t get a very bad reaction (she wouldn’t give me the full gory details of the horror story cases) you will very quickly and most of the time have sharp rough stubble, ingrown hair, bumpy skin…yuk.
    If a guy pressures you to do it, I would ask him which look it is he finds appealing – pre pubescent girls? or the extremely elderly? Because those are the groups which fit the bill for no bush. Sorry, true. I am not as militant as I might sound but, I am not tempted.

  24. Angela

    Wow, what an interesting discussion! When I was nearly 30, I had a boyfriend who wanted me to shave my armpits. That was the first time I had ever shaved them and I had no clue. At that point, I might have shaved my legs a couple times in my life. So, this would be from someone now 54, who grew up in the crunchy granola Pacific NW and in my entire life, this has never arisen as an “issue” with those who have reason to see my pubic area. I am not very hairy and am pretty fair so I am sure those were elements of the decision making process. Might also have been lazy or laissez faire. I find it disturbing that this is (apparently) a new norm and that to NOT engage in this body-altering experience is to somehow be making a statement. While I would not want to veer off the course here where everyone is saying how non-judgmental they are, I really think that decisions made by women about their bodies when the specific parts in question are sexualized…well, those decisions are not made in a vacuum: “I just woke up one day and knew I would be happier with much larger breasts”… I mean, how did that occur to someone? Why not larger ears? Why not larger wrists or fingers or ….? The social construct around the parts of our bodies with sexual significance makes it hard for me to separate the decision to alter those parts from a question about the woman’s judgement.
    And just another point, from a woman with a few years on the average commenter today (just guessing): when I look at my pubes, I wish I had the darker fuller bush of my youth because I can tell you that as you age ALL hair is less lush and full!

    • Marla

      That’s so funny! My own mother was shaming me about underarm hair at exactly the same time it grew in – so, 12 or so? So not doing anything is definitely a statement here…

  25. Jess

    I started shaving bald in my late teens as fore play with my first long term boyfriend. He liked to shave for me and it felt great & normal at the time. I know a lot of my friends were doing the same thing. This was about 17 years ago.

    A short while into my next intimate relationship, my boyfriend admitted to me that he had initially wondered if something was wrong with me when he saw my bald pubic area! I was clearly his first baldy & he was so-so about it.

    I’ve been all over the map since & had my last wax appt over 2 years ago. I found my skin to be too sensitive at the time (I was pregnant) then stayed away because I was healing from a c-section. Now I just have no desire. It did start to feel a bit infantile to me 5 or so years ago to be bald. My husband likes it when I switch it up so I may be pretty full or pretty trimmed but there is always hair. And I feel much more womanly with it. I could care less what the norm is.

  26. Allison

    The recent trend in pubic topiary is just one reason I’m grateful to be 42 and long-partnered. I’m curious if the women who wax think of this as a thing to do when they’re young, or something they plan to be doing when they’re 80?

  27. Cas

    I do feel some pressure to atleast try it but I really don’t want to. I already shave arm pits,legs, bikini line and trim my public hair on a regular basis. It’s over my personal limit on time/energy/money for grooming. Also I don’t like bare on myself or my partners.

    I like havin a little cushion 😉

  28. K

    After I split with my long term bf at 22 I thought I needed to be bare to get in the single scene. I was also intrigued by comments that it feels better. It did feel better, I loved it. I definitely first got it because I felt I had to. I’ve chosen not to maintain primarily for the expense. Plus the guy I occasionally sleep with doesn’t seem to care. I have recently joined a yoga studio with communal showers- a new experience for me and not a single woman was bare. I was so surprised. Women’s magazines- not porn, am super into written porn but not pics or videos- had totally given me the impression almost all woman were bare.

  29. K

    And another note. Being hairless does not make you look prepubescent. There are many pubic changes, only one of which is hair. Know your bodies ladies!

    • Alex

      Thank you!

      By all means, don’t do it if you don’t dig the look/feel/possible societal implications, but please don’t tell me that getting rid of my pubic hair makes me look like an 11 year old child. Hairless or not, my body shows signs of my age aplenty–these hips do not lie.

  30. Rose-Anne

    I for one am delighted to hear all the voices speaking up against waxing and the culture that has made this practice a norm. I’m pretty disturbed by the notion that there are men out there who don’t even KNOW that women have pubic hair too. Seriously, what the…?!?

    I’ve heard others hypothesize that this trend originated in porn. I’m not anti-porn on principle, but I am concerned that too much of our sexuality (especially men’s sexuality) is being shaped by the fictionalized fantasy version of sex that porn presents. There’s a project out there called “Make Love, Not Porn,” and its founder talked about how she’s been with lovers who don’t even THINK about her pleasure or orgasm. The sex is all about the man, his penis and his pleasure. She thinks its because the porn that men watch emphasizes male pleasure and the male sexual experience to the exclusion of female pleasure. That’s really unfortunate, and I think that we, as women, may be spending a lot of time trying to undo the ideas planted in people’s heads by porn.

  31. Rose-Anne

    I tried to leave a comment earlier, but something ate it 🙁 So I’ll keep this short and say that I for one am delighted to hear so many people saying that they find this trend disturbing. Me too!

  32. Lisa

    I started shaving all of it in highschool (12 years ago) to be like everyone else then carried on as a habit until I met my now husband who is older. He asked me to grow it in so he didn’t feel like he was “enjoying” a little girl. Now I keep the front bush trimmed and shaped and shave the lips area. It’s a good compromise between adult appearance and fun for function.

  33. Jan

    I really didn’t like this post. It’s not like pubic shaving is a just a trend like the shape of you handbag, a trend that you can choose or miss if you like.

    The trouble here is a) that women are *expected* to shave, that shaving is mandatory – to such extent that some himbo apparently couldn’t even imagine women having hairy genitals

    and

    b) it’s only women who have this “obligation”. Men go hairy and trouble-free.

  34. anna

    two things i hate about the going bare trend. 1) the idea (as mentioned in the post) that it’s “cleaner” to go bare. um, no. the purpose of the hair, just like the purpose of hair in armpits, butt and on the scalp, is to mitigate the fluids and build-up of the area. you are actually cleaner and less smelly with the hair, as long as you’re washing properly. we don’t think of men with hair as ‘dirty’, do we? even when it’s around uh, damp areas of the body.

    2) that (some, thankfully not all) men think it’s okay to tell a woman what she can and can’t do down there. it’s so normalized for a man to say ‘ew, gross’ about a hairy woman (or a woman, really). to me, if a man i was with asked me to shave it would be the equivalent of telling me how to dress or telling me i needed to lose or gain a few pounds, or else he’d find me disgusting. and that, my friends, is the fast lane to dump city.

  35. Veronica

    I think Sally linked to this post recently: Why makeup is a waste of my time. That is how I feel about this issue.

    I will go along with fashion/style/keeping up appearances to an extent. I like to create striking outfits, I like to find cool jewelry and shoes, I have even begun to enjoy hats. I wear makeup most of the time, but it’s a pretty minimal routine.

    I draw the line at this trend. I do not have the time or desire to remove that hair and I certainly don’t intend to let society’s expectations about that part of my body change my views. There are so many pressures and expectations placed on women’s appearances and it takes a lot of time and money to fulfill even the basics. No way am I worrying about a part of my body that only I, my husband, and my doctor ever see.

    And I do think it is all about making women look like girls.

  36. cecelia

    I shave. What’s with all the hate? I’m a ballet dancer and my husband prefers it, both of which are valid reasons. I don’t see it any different than wearing a perfume he likes or special underwear. Remember, it all grows back, it is no big deal. (and yes, he does groom himself for me, and generally wears what I tell him to wear.)

  37. Anon for this one

    I actually am losing my pubic hair, and started in my mid-20s. I have very oddly placed bald patches…yes, the skin is very smooth, and maybe a little more sensitive, but at one point I said, “screw it ” and shaved down pretty far, and was…disturbed. It looked very wrong. I actually wish I had MORE pubic hair.

  38. ✂☹

    Once upon a time, I was a nursing student doing rounds in a dr office. A woman came in complaining that her bottom was so sore that she couldn’t sit without leaning. After her legs were in the stirrups, we saw an angry red inflamed area in between her thigh and labia – the center was filled with pus like a humongous zit. It was quite easy to see this, as she had shaved bare at her husband’s request. She had irritated her Bartholin Gland (aids in moisture during arousal), causing herself to have a Bartholin Cyst (google those words).

    Her treatment: The dr lanced her cyst with a scalpel, expressed the pus with an instrument that looks like a zit popper only bigger. Then he inserted packing, which sort of looked like shoestring, so it would drain before the outer skin healed over. Finally he put a thick dressing made from folded gauze to absorb the drainage. She limped out of the office. I wasn’t there for her follow up, so that’s the end of the story for me.

  39. Sam

    My $0.02:

    I dislike the feeling having a full bush. It’s itchy and gets crusty with my discharge. The hair is thick and coarse, so it catches on things. Sex doesn’t feel good.

    For years, my solution has been to shave bare once per month, so it looks nice and trimmed as it grows in. There’s only two days of red bumpiness, during which I exfoliate like crazy to guard against ingrowns.

    But I like being bare more and more as I grow older and closer to my sexual peak. Oral sex is more fun for my husband when I have less going on there, I feel wetter and sexier, super-skimpy undies look better, etc.

    So I finally sucked it up and got a groupon for six bikini laser treatments… which will thin things out so shaving is easier. At my husband’s request, I’ll leave a nice landing strip unlasered (still playing with the shape/size… nothing too small, I think).

    YMMV, but for me, I regard shaving my bits like a dude would regard shaving his face. Nice but not necessary. No judgement on those who grow full beards. No judgement on those who don’t leave the house without a bare face. And 5-o’-clock shadow is sexy.

    • Sam

      Also, I like porn. I think shaved/trimmed/groomed ladybits look hot, not infantile. Ditto goes for shave/trimmed/groomed manbits.