A few days ago, as I looked down at my “flower” in the shower, pink razor in hand, a thought occurred to me…
“Why on earth am I still shaving?”
After all, I’m 27 years old. I’ve been in a relationship for five years. And, if I don’t have the time to shave, things down there start to get a little…”prickly.”
I probably started shaving when I was around 12. I mean, that’s just what we all did, especially when we were teenagers away at summer camp. We were all very close and comfortable with one another (we had no other choice, with only two showers for nearly 20 girls!), and although we never explicitly discussed shaving versus not, it was just kind of assumed that that’s what we all did.
I wondered if teens today still think that way and decided to talk to another younger cousin about it. She’s 15, and unlike most girls her age, she is very open and happy to discuss the matter. I told her about my relationship with my pubic hair growing up, and asked her if she had a similar experience. She said most of her friends shaved, too, and those who didn’t would usually give a disclaimer before changing in front of others, just in case her friends would make a face about it. Though nearly twice her age, I couldn’t help but relate to every single thing my cousin had said.
Unbelievably, the first and only time I witnessed a woman my age who embraced her “bush” was when I was 19, and my suitemate, who was a few years older, often walked around nude. I decided to ask other women my age—the friends I grew up with—what their relationship was with their pubic hair. Did they still shave like we did back in camp, or were they letting it grow out nowadays? If they did still like it bare, did they put the razor away and wax instead?
My best friend told me that she never really shaved everything because she felt weird not having anything. If she did shave, it was usually before having intimate relationships with a guy. Now, she “gets lazy” with it and just cleans it up. One friend said that she “…would never put a razor near there anymore.” She waxes, and if she misses a waxing, she just trims. Someone else said that she also used to shave, but now is letting it grow in, and only shaves her bathing suit area. She asked her boyfriend what he thought, and he told her he didn’t mind. She said if he did mind, that would have been an issue.
Two of my friends told me that they continue to get rid of everything, but only because they feel more comfortable with it. Was your mid-20s finally the time to take control of your pubic hair without letting society influence that decision? What about people that grew up before the age of internet-feminism and thong bathing suits?
I needed to talk to someone older, so I turned to two of my aunts who are in their 40s.
One said that one of her friends shaved during their teen years, so she didn’t, either. When they got a little older, around college-age, that’s when they started to experiment with removing hair. She said most of her friends would get waxed and go for the “landing strip” look, and nowadays, she’ll do something similar. No hair at all would just be weird for her.
I spoke to another aunt, and she was a bit shocked to hear my experience. She said she assumed that my generation shaved, but she didn’t realize we shaved it bare, and she didn’t realize it started so young. Needless to say, she’ll probably be having a conversation with her child at some point sooner than later.
It was clear that the issue of pubic hair versus bare was somewhat generational, but that wasn’t entirely it. Perhaps women started managing their hair at different ages, but regardless of age, everyone I knew was still conscious about it.
After all, Hollywood does a great job of shaming women for their pubic hair. There’s that scene in The Sex in the City movie where Samantha criticizes Miranda for her “National Forest.” Even a quick Google search reveals this problem, with headlines from 2011 questioning “Has Pubic Hair in America Gone Extinct?”
When I lived in South Korea and visited the jimjilbangs (public bathhouses), Korean women definitely didn’t have this concern. Hair was everywhere. And, a Canadian friend told me that most women she knew cleaned it up (but not fully removed it) by shaving, waxing or trimming. She said that there is a “Tinder-life expectation” to get rid of it all, but she and her friends could never understand that.
I’ve always subconsciously battled with the notion of my pubic hair. Shaving everything off all the time was just easier. When people around me (mostly guys, but sometimes girls) made cruel comments about girls having hair down-there, I could smile to myself and think, “Oh, that’s not me…” But, deep down I knew that I was just falling into another mold of society, one which didn’t even make sense.
But, as of late, I decided that I truly wanted to look like a grown woman. Nowadays, I think I’d rather be more of a Rose from Titanic than a Jennifer Aniston from The Break-Up.
That’s just me.
Also, if I ever have a daughter, I don’t want her to see me nude and be utterly confused.
Moral of the story?
No matter how old you are, what country you come from, or what your generation dictated to you—whether you shave, wax, trim, Veet, or do nothing at all, do whatever you do because YOU want to.
For the first time in forever, how much I decide to take off won’t be influenced by anyone else except for myself.