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