Hairless women are the new norm in western culture. The media correlates hairlessness with attractiveness. The porn industry relegates ‘hairy’ porn to a dark, ‘alternative’ corner. Pubic hair is regarded as repulsive and unhygienic. And women everywhere are complaining about how painful and impractical pubic hair removal is, as they reluctantly fork out £20 for a routine wax. This has got to stop.
Pubic hair is not dirty, it is natural. We have hair follicles for a reason. In an article published by KevinMD.com, a website with the tagline ‘Social media’s leading physician voice’, Gibson writes ‘Pubic hair does have a purpose, providing a cushion against friction that can cause skin abrasion and injury, protection from bacteria and other unwanted pathogens’. The widespread myth of pubic hair removal being a hygienic practice is a complete fallacy. The opposite is true! Gibson goes onto explain how ‘“Pubic hair removal naturally irritates and inflames the hair follicles left behind, leaving microscopic open wounds […] frequent hair removal is necessary to stay smooth, causing regular irritation of the shaved or waxed area. When that irritation is combined with the warm moist environment of the genitals, it becomes a happy culture medium for some of the nastiest of bacterial pathogens.’ Sound hygienic?
The other argument that is frequently banded around is that of aesthetics. “It just looks better without it”; “it looks neater”; “I wouldn’t have to confidence to just leave it.” Whilst I encourage every woman’s choice to do whatever the hell they want to do with their bodies, and their hair, I feel like the pressure to conform to this hairless ‘beauty’ standard leaves little room for choice. Young women now live with the expectation of smooth vaginas. As our vaginas are being mocked and laughed at, we lose the power. We are ridiculed and shamed for having natural body hair. Enough is enough is enough. Must we destroy every vestige of hair on our bodies to be considered feminine? Even without considering the pubic hair removal, the hair removal routines that women go through are ridiculous. We pluck, shave, wax, bleach and epilate our legs, underarms, eyebrows, ‘lady moustaches’, chins, ‘snail trails’, etc, etc. Must our bodies be so ridiculously policed? Must our bodies be so ridiculously smooth? Must our bodies be those of pre-pubescent girls!?
I cannot write this without mentioning the Porn industry’s powerful influence in this matter. A popular theory for the popularization of the removal of pubic hair in porn is that directors preferred porn actors to be smooth so that they could film sex acts more clearly and more closely. Let’s just think about that for a moment. Boys are growing up with unrealistic expectations of women’s private parts, because of porn. Girls are feeling yet more shame about their bodies, because of porn. Girls are putting themselves through pain and infection, because of porn. Girls are spending time and money on professional waxing, epilators, and shaving, because of porn. An article in The Guardian bleakly proclaims “Porn has introduced a new aesthetic – perhaps as a joke or momentary experiment – and women have responded with unquestioning servility and breezy abandon. At least now we can confront the naked truth about women’s submissiveness in all its stark, raw, bald reality.”
It comes down to this; if men grow to have an expectation of women as hairless – largely because of porn – that is their problem. Some women are porn stars. Most are not. We are complex, multi-faceted, sexual, interesting, and varied human beings… we are not ‘neat’. I’ll end with this quote from journalist Hadley Freeman – “Pubic hair is proof of sexual maturity and if your partner finds that a turn-off, you should probably reconsider that partner.”