Who Is Influencing The Way We Think About Body Hair?

27.05.20

It remains to be seen if the “body positivity” movement that various brands and influencers have been espousing and profiting off in recent years will trickle its way down to the subject of pubic hair. And that’s mostly because we don’t really talk about pubic hair on public forums; it’s still a relatively taboo subject. Unless of course you’re Gwyneth Paltrow, who joyfully told Ellen DeGeneres in 2013 that she will never be the person scrambling to find a razor, exclaiming that her pubic region “rocked more of a 70s vibe – if you know what I mean.”

But it appears as though GP is the exception to the rule – at least if you take a recent TTC survey of almost 400 readers into consideration. Of those who participated, a staggering 38.5% of women are currently undergoing Brazilian laser hair removal, with the goal of permanently removing all of their pubic hair. Interestingly, the second most popular grooming habit was shaving (30.3%). Only 6.8% of readers claimed to rock a natural look a lá Paltrow.

I don’t have the resources to thoroughly investigate where females obsessions with hairless genitals comes from, but there’s not a doubt in my mind that for heterosexual women, porn culture plays a significant role. It simply cannot be underestimated how entrenched porn has become in the male psyche. In seedy realms of porn, women’s genitals are completely devoid of hair; smooth and glistening, like a child or a Barbie. Teenage boys who experienced their formative years in the 2000s routinely streamed porn on their iPhones and MacBook Pros. To give some context, more than 4 million videos were uploaded to PornHub.com last year, with the website noting that this figure was “more than the number of people who visit the Great Wall of China each year.” Coolcoolcoolcool. All of this goes some way to influence a man’s expectations of a partner’s genitals, and quite frankly I found some female readers testimonies devastating. There was Ellie who said that one of her first sexual experiences, “involved a guy texting me afterwards to say that he’d prefer if I remove my pubic hair going forward as it wasn’t nice for him having it natural.” Then there was Antonia, who’s high school boyfriend went to Europe for three months and on his return told her that, “she hadn’t shaved well enough for his expectations. I was self-conscious for about five years after that.” And it wasn’t just pubic hair that boys took issue with, Samantha was bullied in primary school for having arm hair, “I was under the impression that it made me ugly, so I started shaving my arms when I was 12. I’m now 25 and it’s an important reminder that words can stay with a person for a very long time.” Beck agrees, saying that despite now being an adult and a mother of two children, she still remembers a boy who laughed at her pubic hair thirteen years ago and referred to it as a “bush” in front of his friends.

Thankfully, with time comes experience, and with experience comes maturity. For most people. Adult men, on average, surveyed far less critical of a partner’s grooming habits; Kez said that a woman’s pubic hair has never been a deal-breaker, in fact he couldn’t even tell you the grooming habits of his previous partners, “I honestly don’t remember and I don’t care.” Ryan said that the only deal-breaker was if he didn’t have an intimate bond with the woman, “I’m happy with whatever decision she’s made for herself.” However Belinda said, “There have been multiple occasions when I was almost due for a Brazilian wax and my ex-boyfriend would cringe when he saw me getting dressed.” And Jessica remembers an ex-boyfriend, “Who got mad that I started getting laser hair removal without consulting him first. I’d already been waxing and shaving, so I couldn’t understand his outrage.” Which I think makes it as good a time as any to say the following: The only person who should be making decisions about your personal grooming habits is you. Period. If a man or a woman offers their unsolicited opinion on *your pubic hair*, or expresses disdain for *your grooming habits*, calmly and quiet stand up, put your underwear back on, and get the f*ck out of there.

For both heterosexual and queer women, oral sex came up a lot in the context to pubic hair. Put simply, both parties found it to be a much more enjoyable experience to give and receive when there was less hair involved. Bonny summarised most readers sentiments when she said, I like the hair – just not inches of it in my mouth like a fur ball. It’s never been a deal-breaker, but let’s just say he’s going to get a much better blow job if his hair is trimmed – so really it’s in his best interest to keep things tidy.”

For men reading this article, you’re probably wondering what feedback the girls offered about your grooming choices – but that’s the thing, we’re not as fussy as you! As Abbie pointed out, “If a person is letting you see their pubic hair, then the least you can do is not cast judgement.” Meg tells her partners, “I’ll manage my hair the way I like it, and you can manage yours the way you like it.” Naturally there were preferences that kept coming up, like “mild-manscaping” and “trimmed” and “neat”, but mostly women are unfazed, providing you take a little pride in your appearance: “If you’re trimming your beard and you’re fastidious about your facial hair when we kiss you, then you should be putting in that same effort down south.”

And with that, boys and girls, I leave you with this, from Ben:

“I love cake. All cakes. Regardless of how the cake decides to present itself, chances are I’ll still enjoy it. Because being able to have cake is a privilege, right? However, the way the cake chooses to present itself will have an impact on how much cake I’ll consume in one sitting. I may not enjoy the icing as much as I thought I would and decide to shovel it down quickly, or, if it’s a beautifully presented cake I might want to keep indulging until I simply cannot indulge anymore. I think the one thing that remains imperative for all cakes is effort. The cake needs to look like it’s had some TLC, takes a bit of pride, you know? As long as that’s evident then I don’t think anyone has the right to comment on the amount of sprinkles a cake has. Unless those sprinkles taste funny… yeah let’s add that: Always have clean sprinkles. P.s. Swap out the word “cake” for “vagina” and “sprinkles” for “pubic hair”.


Header image via Tumblr