Ladies Night: Pubic Hair

August 30, 2018

Recently, I invited some good friends over for a night of Mediterranean take-out, chilled white wine, and frank discussion about pubic hair. 

Why pubic hair, you say? In addition to being funny, it’s a subject that carries a surprising amount of weight socially and personally. Most of the women in our parent’s generation never landscaped nor ever felt any pressure to landscape. Why does our generation landscape? Is it the result of pressure created by the porn industry? Or is it because it’s better hygiene and we’re less repressed sexually? Is it fair that we as women get the message from society that it’s gross to be au naturel and, simultaneously, get the message that we’re sluts for having tiny “landing strips” or going completely bare? Is having a big bush a sign of boldness and strength? Is it a sign of sexual freedom if a woman has no hair or barely there hair?

These and others were some of the questions we discussed and what resulted was a hilarious, thoughtful and surprisingly poignant night. My guests were Gina, Lily, Dani and Sam. Dani and Sam are sisters. We’re all in our early forties and have kids between the ages of 3 and 8. Everyone’s names (other than mine) were changed to protect privacy.

I’d love for you to chime in! Take advantage of the comments section below.

Annie: Most of us were raised by women who never landscaped, nor felt any pressure to landscape. Do you envy them?

Sam: I remember going to the waxer with my mother. 

Lily: Your mom landscaped?

Sam: Yeah. 

Annie: She did?

Sam: Yeah. I remember going to the waxer with my mother, who has no tolerance for pain, and she would literally scream. Oooowww! Oooowww! OOOOWWW!

Dani: My mom was single, too, though. (Dani and Sam are sisters.)

Annie: Were you watching? Like, everything? 

Sam: I was in the room. I didn’t see everything. I didn’t have, like, a front view. It was before the Playboy. 

Gina: That’s the thing. Define landscaping. Because your mom probably did what I do now. 

(Gina indicates the area just outside the panty line.)

Sam: Yeah. It was just the sides.

Lily: What’s a Playboy?

Sam: It’s where they just leave a landing strip. You’re bare up until the front. 

Annie: It’s just a nod to pubic hair.

Dani: It’s like Hitler. 

Lily: And the pain is terrible?

Gina: The pain is horrific. 

Annie: It’s terrible. 

Dani: Actually, the butt does not hurt. 

Annie: The butt doesn’t hurt. It’s right above your clit that’s excruciating. 

Lily: Eeeeeek!!!

Sam: Actually, the legs and all that doesn’t hurt either. It’s just the lips.

Dani: Especially if the hair is long. 

Lily: I’ve never once been waxed. 

Gina: Really?

Lily: Cause of the pain. I’m scared of it. If I have to wear a bathing suit, I’ll do a bikini shave. I’ve never done it and I never intend to do it. I don’t want to have pain for it. 

Annie: It’s really terrible. But, you’re blonde, so you probably don’t get ingrowns.

Lily: No, I’m not blonde.

Annie: You’re not?

Lily: Down there I’m not. 

Annie: So, why don’t you get ingrowns?

Lily: I do, but I feel like… I’m afraid of waxing, too.

Gina: Waxing is less ingrowns. 

Lily: So, I was taught early on and I don’t know by who… maybe it was Cosmopolitan magazine… that you have to exfoliate the area with a towel really well before and after you shave and then you won’t get ingrowns. The ingrowns are a product of dead skin on top. So, if you exfoliate the area, then the hair doesn’t have a problem getting blocked. 

Sam: Oh!

Lily: It has some truth to it cause I’ve been okay. But, every now and then I get some ingrown hairs. 

Dani: I would never be okay, if I shaved. 

Annie: Me, too. Never.

Gina: So, do you keep yourself pretty much put together even when you’re not getting into a bathing suit?

Lily: No. I only shave when I have to wear a bathing suit.

Dani: Otherwise, you’re a free spirit.

Lily: It’s the seventies. 

Annie: That’s awesome. 

Gina: I’m happy to hear that. I thought I was the only one. 

Sam: I do wax, but it’s not as frequently as when you first start dating somebody. It’s mostly for vacation. But, I will say, I do feel cleaner and I do feel better when I do it. 

Gina: I go every four weeks. Every fourth Saturday, I’m there. 

Lily: Really? Wow. 

Gina: Yeah. 

Dani: At Sylvia’s?

Gina: Yeah, I’m at Sylvia’s every four weeks. 

Lily: Who’s Sylvia?

Gina: She’s the best waxer in the valley. 

Dani: The best. 

Annie: The best. 

Lily: (to Annie) Do you go to Sylvia?

Annie: I did and then I got it all lasered off.

Lily: (gasp) You’re bald?

Annie: Yeah. 

Gina: So, what made you go from a mom that never did to someone who lasered it all off?

Annie: Yeah, it’s weird because for a long time I was freaked out by women that were bald. I thought it was, like, akin to pedophilia. I was really freaked out by it. Gina knows. Then, I started to realize how common it is and I got more used to the idea. Plus, I was so tired of waxing and shaving and ingrowns and pain.  I felt like I was always dealing with it. I went to go get lasered. The woman asked me what I wanted to do and I was like, “You know what? Just do it all.” Just do it all. I’m done. And, I have to say, I love it. 

Dani: You lasered yourself bald?

Annie: Yeah, but it didn’t work perfectly. I still have to shave. I could still grow it out, but it’s just much thinner and I don’t get any ingrowns. They say most women go back once or twice a year for “maintenance.”

Lily: Did it hurt?

Annie: Nah. It didn’t hurt that bad. Doesn’t hurt nearly as bad as waxing does. 

Gina: It also saves you time and money, I bet. 

Annie: Saves me a ton of time. Saves me a ton of money. It’s so clean. I love it. 

Lily: A lot of the young girls I work with are bald. 

Sam: Really?

Dani: Really?

Lily: I think for many women that age, they feel like they have to present themselves a certain way for men to accept them naked. I think maybe all of us experience that in different ways. I feel like for some of these girls, they think they’re expected to. Then, they get married and have sex with the same guy for twenty years and stop doing it.

Laughter. 

Lily: These girls, that are not of our generation, they’re not married and they’re still looking for a partner. 

Gina: If all of a sudden, God forbid, we didn’t have husbands. All of us at this table. Don’t you think we’d all approach things down there a little bit differently? I think I would. I think I’d be getting some kind of… what Sam has… Playboy.

Lily: I just maybe would be like, “Fuck it.” And face being by myself. I don’t know. I can’t even imagine. 

Sam: I don’t know if I necessarily do it for my boyfriend because he has never complained. I mean, he’s said little things here and there. Probably, like, “Oh, it’s been a while” or something…

Lily: But, if you go into a relationship seeing a woman’s pubic hair one way and then she doesn’t go to Sylvia for a couple of months, as a guy, you’d probably be like, “Oh. Okay.”

Dani: You catfished with your pubic hair. 

Gina: (LOL) That’s true!

Sam: Right! And I do believe at the beginning of our relationships, we do.

Annie: Oh, I was religious about waxing when Michael and I were dating. I mean, I acted like I would never not groom down there. Then, I spent years never anywhere near a strip of wax.

Gina: It was like a second job taking care of that area when you were first in the relationship. Did you ever do that, Lily?

Lily: I didn’t. We’ve been together so long. We met in college and that was my pretend hippy phase.

Gina: And I think the younger girls also grew up with a lot more porn and the girls in porn don’t have any hair. So, if you’re seeing that more and that’s what all the boys are seeing… they feel like that’s what they’re supposed to do. 

Annie: Totally. 

Lily: My husband says that the porn industry… I don’t know where he finds time for porn, but they find the time… 

Annie: (LOL) They steal a few moments somehow.

Lily: Maybe when he comes home and has to take a shit for twenty minutes. 

Laughter.

Sam: Then, there’s “research.”

Lily: When I told him what the topic was tonight, he said, “Well, just tell Annie, it’s coming back.” So, yeah, in the porn industry, apparently hair is coming back.

Dani: I have to say, I think my body looks better with hair. When I’m bald, I feel like my body doesn’t look good. 

Gina: I agree with you there. 

Dani: Or even with a landing strip. I feel like the shape of my body looks better with a triangle. The bigger the triangle… it kind of evens out the rest.

Gina: Me, too. 

Sam: I look better when it’s smaller, but not the big megaphone lookin’ thing. 

Laughter. 

Sam: I don’t ever go bald. I leave a landing strip, but when I do wax the lips… or whatever… 

Annie: The labia. 

Sam: Yes. There is something about it that feels cleaner. It feels sexier.

Annie: The sensation of sex is much more sensitive. I like it more. I can honestly say that I’m doing it for myself. I like the cleanness of it. It’s not as smelly. It’s just easy to clean and during sex I feel it more than I did before.  

Sam: There’s nothing to block or grab the penis. The penis just goes right in. 

Dani: Yeah, there’s no hair to stop it. 

Sam: It’s like webs. It’s like the penis is hacking through a forrest. 

Annie: Well, that brings me to my other question. Have you guys ever had anybody complain? Cause I have. I’ve definitely had somebody complain. 

Sam: I have, too. 

Annie: I was very natural for a long time because I hated waxing so much. I would avoid it. And, then, I would hear things like, “Oh, somebody needs to shave.” That kind of annoyingness. 

Lily: That would make me so angry. 

Annie: It did. It pissed me off.  

Sam: That would make me feel insecure a little bit, too. 

Annie: And there’s the flip side of it. It did that, too. I sort of envy my mother’s generation that never seemed to feel any pressure. Like, I think of those comments… “Somebody needs to wax” or “somebody needs to shave” and how I felt shamed in those moments. And I bet… and, I mean, I don’t know… but I bet men of my parents generation didn’t do that because they didn’t expect anything else. To them, it is what it is. 

Lily: I don’t recall feeling shamed over my pubic hair in the three major relationships I’ve had in my life. And the casual encounters, I just don’t remember. So, I don’t remember shame as part of it. Shame in a lot of other situations, but not in terms of pubic hair. 

Gina: I remember my husband saying something kind of like what you were saying. When I think about my ex boyfriends, in all those years… never. But I do remember my husband saying little things. Never anything mean. More like, it made me feel like I should take a little bit better care of myself. Like, “So, it’s been a minute.” But nothing terrible. I’m kind of harder on myself than he is. 

Annie: Those little comments… or whatever they are… they’re a little thing, but they feel bigger  to me. 

Gina: Well, it does make you feel unsexy for that moment. 

Sam: Well, you also feel a little more unsexy when it’s not groomed. You know?

Annie: But, they don’t go through that. I’ve never been, like, “Hey, it’s been a minute, hasn’t it?”

Sam: They don’t go, “Aww. I’m not sexy.” (Sam jokingly pretends to cry and cuddle herself.)

Gina: They don’t go through a lot of the things we go through.

Annie: They don’t have that experience and that’s not fair, really. When I think about it, I think that’s not fair. I get it. It’s different. But…

Sam: And, normally, I would agree with that, but I just learned something in therapy because recently somebody hurt my feelings: It has to be something that’s our own insecurity for it to hurt you. You know what I mean?

Annie: Yeah.

Sam: They can say what they’re going to say and we don’t have to choose to get upset about it. Just like we could say what we’re going to say, and the guy wouldn’t be phased. He’d be like, “Oh, well. Let’s get down!” They would not feel unsexy about it. We choose to feel unsexy about it. 

Gina: If we already do feel unsexy.  

Annie: I get it. It taps into something that’s already there. If there’s not already something there, it won’t hook into you. 

Dani: But, why was it already there?

Annie: Society, maybe. 

Dani: Maybe society. Or maybe being young. I was thinking. I know I’ve been shamed. I mean, I’m a hairy girl, you know? So, I remember being young… like 15… and having sex with a guy… I mean, I shouldn’t have even been having sex…

Annie: I had sex really young, too. It’s okay. 

Dani: I had sex really young and, you know, I feel like a lot of my insecurities stem from there… but I do have a memory of him being like, “Uh… don’t you shave?” And I was like, “I did.” And he was like, “What? Did you use a butterknife?”

Annie: Oh man.

Gina: He said that? Oh, that’s awful.

Dani: I know. 

Annie: What a dick!

Gina: He’s a dick. 

Lily: He was young, too. 

Annie: How old was he?

Dani: Eighteen. 

Annie: What a shithead. I’m sorry. 

Dani: I know. 

Sam: Yeah.

Dani: But, I mean, and so I… that was around when I… I mean there was stuff before that… but that was around when I started feeling like hairy… and fat… you know? Because my body was changing and my boobs got huge and I was hairy. So, yeah, it was society, but things can happen that just stick with you.

Annie: Well, because he had some image in his head of what it was supposed to be like. But, who gave him that image? To think that women are supposed to be these hairless creatures? It all comes from somewhere. 

Gina: I remember, when I was young, I went to Sylvia and waxed it all off and I had a gynecologist appointment the very next day. And the gynecologist was horrified.

Dani: Your gynecologist was horrified?

Sam: What?

Gina: I’m remembering this. Maybe it was a little rashy. Or maybe it was a little red. I don’t know. I don’t remember it being that big of a deal. And she was completely freaked, like, “Why would you do something like that to yourself?” She shamed me. I’ll never forget it. 

Annie: That’s interesting.

Lily: That is interesting. 

Dani: So nineties. That would never happen today. 

Gina: Yeah. It was twenty five years ago. 

Annie: I’ve been reading a lot of articles online and you’d be surprised how many older women get on there and they’re like, “Don’t ever do that! Don’t ever wax it all off! Don’t ever laser it all off! You’ll get an infection! It’s terrible for you!” But, the vitriol with which they say it indicates that it’s not really about infection. It touches a nerve. And, I can relate, because it touched the same nerve in me for so long.

Gina: Why do you think it touches a nerve for them? I almost think they think it’s dirty and slutty.

Annie: They do. They totally do. Yeah.

Gina: I used to only wax for the gynecologist. Until I started this routine every four weeks. All those years of having kids, I only went and got a wax for the doctor. My husband would be like, “I guess you’re going to see the doctor! You just got a wax.”

Lily: I have a question for you guys. Did you guys get waxed before giving birth?

Gina: I waxed myself before giving birth.

Annie: You did?

Gina: I waxed myself. 

Annie: That’s a baller thing to do. 

Gina: I went into my mom’s bathroom. I took the wax. I couldn’t even see my fuckin’ vagina. I was this big. 

Gina holds her hands out like she’s huge.

Gina: I had to go in her mirror. It was stupid. It was stupid. And that’s when I called Sylvia and was like, “I’m back! It’s been years, but I’m back.” And now I go every four weeks. It was dumb. I couldn’t see it. I couldn’t find it!  

Lily: What about men though? I, personally, don’t find it to be a turn on when men are very, very groomed. 

Gina: I hate it. 

Dani: Ick.

Sam: No. 

Annie: No, I hate it. It’s weird. 

Sam: I’ve felt it before and it felt weird. 

Dani: I hate a shaved chest. 

Gina: Oh. No. No. No. 

Dani: I prefer it soft. A shaved chest is so not cozy and sexy. 

Gina: If you’ve got hair. You’ve got hair.  It’s fine, if you weren’t born with hair. But, if you were born with hair… you were born with hair. 

Annie: Don’t shave. Don’t. 

Lily: And the pubic area on a man, I personally… and, again, it’s not a judgement… it’s just for me… it doesn’t turn me on if a man’s penis region is trimmed and shaved.  

Sam: See, I don’t mind a little trim. A little trim.

Gina: I don’t mind a little trim, either. 

Lily: I guess, a trim is one thing, but a shave is another. 

Sam: You know, if it’s a jungle down there…

Gina: But, not if it looks trimmed. They have to do it so slight that it doesn’t look like it… so it doesn’t look like a “manscape.”

Sam: Yeah, no, not a manscape. Not a shave. They don’t have to take a razor to it. 

Lily: If I imagine myself with a man and we’re naked and he has no pubes, because he was like, “Yeah, I shaved it.” I don’t even know. I’d be so turned off by that. I’d be like, “How long did that take?!”

Annie: I’ve been in situations where I felt a little stubble down there and it was gross. It’s was like, “What are you doing? Stop it.” 

Sam: Listen to this story Dani told me earlier.

Dani: When Sam told me about tonight, I was like, “I want to come. Do you think Annie would be okay with that? Sam was like, “Yeah, you should come. We’re going to talk about pubic hair.” I was like, “I really should discuss that because the other day I plucked a pubic hair off… you know, you do weird shit when you’re alone… and I looked at it and it was so long and it had a split end! That’s how long it’s been since I groomed.” 

Laughter.

Sam: I told Sylvia. Sylvia said, “Tell your friends it makes you feel sexier and it’s not bad to do something for your man, too.” Then, she said, “Tell Dani that I’ve never seen that before.”

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