I’ve been thinking about pubic hair a lot recently.
Whilst I was single, I endeavoured to keep everything in my pants waxed or Immaced – you know, just in case. (Male friends have said they ‘keep on top of trimming’ when they’re single because they also never know when they’re going to get lucky and they wouldn’t want a bush making their manhood look smaller). I found upkeep was costly and, at times, uncomfortable. I told myself I was maintaining a landing strip ‘for me’. And then I went through a period of 4 to 5 months with no intention of sleeping with anyone. Celibacy, coupled with the comment my waxer made (‘I don’t know why you still come here, you find it painful and your vulva goes bright red afterwards!’) meant I stopped paying for waxes and only Immaced when I felt like it. (As the months went on, this was becoming less and less frequent).
Until things started progressing with the man I’m now seeing.
Reverting back to my routine of maintaining a Brazilian, I remembered that I did like the smoothness and the look of having fewer pubes, but I wondered whether I’d have started removing my hair again if it wasn’t for a new man on the scene. As therapeutic as it is spending the evening shaving, Immacing, creaming and painting fingers and toes, I have always been a girl who resents putting in all the effort with beautifying myself only for a man not to notice and (worse) not to spend any time grooming himself.
Of course, we could say this is anti-feminist and no woman should feel like she ought to shave for a man, but for me, feminism is all about choice, and if a woman chooses to shave all her hair off because she feels this makes her more confident / feel sexier / more beautiful, then good for her. Or is it the patriarchy telling us that baring our bodies is a choice we make? Is it feminist to expect a man to maintain grooming routines, too? I don’t know.
And so with this in mind, I made a joke to my boyfriend about how he could trim his pubes to match his hair cut and freshly-trimmed beard. Fortunately, he took the hint and wasn’t offended. When we spoke about shaving routines (no, there are no boundaries in our relationship), I told him I would never have a Hollywood or Immac all of my pubes off again – I often did this when I was in my late teens, and for me, the pre-pubescent look doesn’t appeal.
During my time at university, I paid for laser hair removal of my pubes. For a host of reasons, it wasn’t successful. At first, I was disappointed and visited a different clinic. The beautician did a patch test and my god it hurt! This was such a contrast to my previous experience of laser hair removal, which I barely felt; over discussion, the beautician and I realised I was ripped off in the first clinic, despite every element of the beauty salon seeming professional and up-market, the laser treatment was cheaper than in other places and the salon had an old (and ineffective) machine. The agony of that patch test and the extortionate price for laser hair removal meant I didn’t go back and permanently remove all of my pubic hair. And thank god I didn’t. Since my early twenties, my views on my pubes have changed and I doubt I’ll want to have a bald vagina at the age of 45. (I wonder if the pre-pubescent look ever did appeal to me, or whether I watched so much porn when I was younger I was sure this was the look men liked…). For the women who choose to remove all their pubic hair, either in the short- or long-term, their decision should be lauded but I hope these girls are doing it for themselves rather than because of pressure from the patriarchy (whether this is implicit or explicit).
This brings me very nicely onto porn. In fact, I could write another story about my ‘love affair’ with porn.
What we do need is pornography with better representation of what women’s bodies look like. Not all women have ‘neat and tidy’ vulvas (the most ridiculous and repugnant way to describe a woman’s body), not all women choose to shave their legs, armpits or pubic hair. Not all women have ‘perfectly bleached’ arseholes – to quote Bridesmaids.
Of course there is porn that does show this variety, but it’s usually in the depths of adult pages, requiring specific search-terms. Young women will struggle with pubic hair confidence until female pubic hair becomes normalised again – maybe we’ll even hark back to the era of the 70’s bush?! As we get older and become more aware of, and educated about, issues such as pornography, we can discern how we feel about these issues for ourselves. We know that the sex in professional porn isn’t true to real sex, and yet it can permeate our sex-lives so easily. Recently, I confided in my boyfriend that I’m actively seeking out porn featuring women with pubic hair and told him I’m going to stop creating a landing strip each time I Immac, and instead just remove the hair from my bikini line. I’m not sure whether it’s because I’m older and more confident in my decisions about my own body, or whether it’s because my boyfriend is also mature, but he didn’t mind (not that his opinion would have changed anything). Previously, men have minded when I’ve missed a wax or not shaved everything off. Or have I just assumed they minded? Do men actually care, or do we just think they do? One thing I didn’t tell my boyfriend is that I want to know if I Immac FOR ME or whether I’ve been conditioned to tell myself removing my pubic hair is my preference – think of it as personal research, if you like.
When we’re in relationships and we see our partners often, it’s harder to keep up with the pretence of having no leg hair, no pubic hair and no underarm hair, and so grooming habits can ‘slip’. Is this because we feel comfortable with one other, do we mind less or is there less pressure to remain hairless? Or is it that our partners know how we look naked and ‘know what they have to work with’ and so there’s no need to ‘undress to impress’ (as my male friend so eloquently put it)?
So many women presume men are concerned with what they do with their vulvas, but I know some men who say they’re just excited to see a naked woman in the flesh, they don’t care how much hair is between their legs.
And yet, there are men who say women should NEVER LET IT GROW and ‘don’t forget to trim the rim as well, a 360 bald patch is a massive turn on!’ whilst sporting a full pubic area at the same time – the hypocrisy is staggering. ‘2 rules to 2 genders’. Sadly, I know I’m not the only woman who’s deliberately worn boring knickers or not waxed as a means of contraception – the shame of an attractive man seeing your plain pants and bush is enough to make you keep it in your pants!
Of course, it’s all about preference. Everyone has the right to do what they want with their pubic hair and we should be having conversations with our partners if we have differing opinions about how we style our nether-regions.
For now, I’m going to embrace this femininity and we’ll see how my love affair progresses.
Note: The featured image is not my image; thank you Google.