Pubic Relations

I've written candidly about pubes before so I'll spare you the details and instead, send you, here. In the meantime, here's a fun Momversation vid about "southern" grooming. It wasn't included in the video but I'm slightly hairphobic. I'm also claustrophobic, crowdphobic and afraid of large quantities of identical looking things. (I have a hard time watching marches when everyone is in unison and became slightly hysterical during the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony drum circle.)

Anyway, this post was supposed to be about pubes not phobias so let's take it down a notch. Lighten the mood with a little discussion about the hair down yonder square. Real talk.


I started shaving early. One might say too early but I beg to differ.

The shaving of my bits wasn't political. It wasn't something I did for a boy or because I peeked too many Playboys. It wasn't because society told me to or wanted me to or because I read some "better oral sex" article in Cosmo. It was just something my friends and I did one day at Jesus* camp, because, well, let's be honest: Nothing makes a hormonally charged teenage girl more desperate to rebel than being told her "private parts" were something to box away for her future husband.

Vaginas are nothing to be ashamed of. So one night, while our camp counselors were sleeping, we tip-toed to the shower, communally dropped trou, pointed our razors to the sky and screamed from the top of our lungs, "what's going on?"

Literally. It was the summer of '95 after all.


And I never looked grew back.

How about you? What's up** with your pubes.

GGC

*my entire group of friends went to church camp every summer regardless of religious affiliation because the head of the ministry was our friend's dad.

**Zing!

53 comments:

Me | 1:51 PM

Totally random topic that I can get on board with today...as I'm 37 weeks pregnant and can't see the hair down there. Grooming is impossible; I didn't even think about the jungle until I looked in the mirror - I mean, I can hardly get around my belly to wipe let alone figure out how to groom!

Anonymous | 2:03 PM

Yay! I'm not normally a momversation watcher but this...um...spoke to me? And was funny. I shave the sides and trim the middle. Why? Because I hate feeling hot and sweaty down there, esp in the summer, so that routine, plus a little body powder, keeps me feelin' fresh(er).

I also have a momversation/pot request. Cellulite - wtf? Since I had the bebe, I gots it. I hate it. HALP.

mommymae | 2:11 PM

I could care less if I was all cousin it in the pubes. I have shaved it all off before, but, frankly, can't stand the upkeep. same reason I won't dye my hair. I'm a lazy mofo. and I'm a little too shy to have a brazilian. plus, it's too costly. I'd rather buy camera lenses or fabric.

Cláudia | 2:16 PM

This is SOOO strange! I'm Portuguese so... everybody waxes here! I've been doing it since thirteen, fourteen, I guess. Not necessarily everything. Usually, you get a normal bikini wax but, if you decide to go all the way (which I have) you wax it! It's painful, but that's how we do it. We're told by our moms, by our beauticians, that shaving is not good, that the hair will get too thick, too harsh, that it will grow stronger (waxing is supposed to make it weaker. Eventually, it would almost disappear! Wishful thinking, I'm afraid). I think that it lasts longer than shaving, we get to wear skirts for three weeks, after waxing.

Lauren | 2:55 PM

I'm a waxer too. But I like to leave a nice bit in the middle and keep it trimmed. And, I have to admit, I think getting rid of all of it is unfeminist. This is probably extreme thinking, and I should get with the whole "it's your body, do what you will" mindset, but something about shaving off or waxing off all of your lady hair, ahem, rubs me the wrong way.

Anonymous | 2:59 PM

I'm with Mommymae: I'm a lazy mofo too! If I think there might be a little something something going on, or if we are going to the pool, I trim the middle and shave the sides. Other than that? This lazy momma is au naturale!

Jessica | 3:12 PM

I have my bikini line waxed and keep everything that's left trimmed and tidy. I (and my husband) think going completely hairless looks prepubescent.

jessica | 3:26 PM

i used to trim in hs then one day i trimmed too short, thought it looked stupid so i shaved it. been shaving ever since. it's not much upkeep. i do it every day, every other day- just like the armpits. if you do it that often there's not much to take off. last month i grew a strip for fun but felt hot and gross so i took it off after about 2 weeks. when everyone else talks about their rug i talk about my bare floor lol!

Anonymous | 3:28 PM

I'm happy to hear that other people don't do much or anything with theirs because often I feel alone in that. Not that that's enough to make me do it, but still.

For me, it's all about comfort. I'm majorly sensitive and I find even shaving my legs makes me all itchy and gives me red bumps if I do it too often (thankfully my hair grows pretty slowly and I can go several days before you can see it coming back), so it makes me want to crawl out of my skin to think about shaving in more sensitive places.

I don't bother with my bikini line most of the time, though I do occasionally cut the longer bits a bit shorter because they get tangled when I wipe, plus I use a menstrual cup and they get in the way for that too.

But otherwise both me and my husband are au naturel down there.

deb | 3:42 PM

I'm kind of with Maggie on the whole "porn aesthetic" notion. It's an interesting topic, for sure.

I am a redhead, and a fair-skinned one at that, and shaving always leaves me wishing I'd just left things alone. The growback is a nightmare of ingrown hairs. I don't have ingrowns nearly as badly when I wax, which I've been doing for the last year or so - but I have a very specific, inverted triangle-shaped zone of comfort that must be left out of the waxing party, but trimmed.

I do what I do because ... I want to, really. I'm going to be brutally honest here and say that, when I personally go downtown, getting a mouthful of hair makes me a little gaggy, which is not the state one wants to be in when downtown. So I guess that means I do it to return the favor as much as anything else.

Baby in Broad | 3:48 PM

I get rid of all of it. I'm a shaver. Have been since it occurred to me that pubes could be shaved.

Why do I do it? Um...I don't like the hair. Plain and simple. And I don't judge anyone who does like it.

As for talking to kids about pubes, I expect a pretty straightforward conversation along the lines of, "When you're older, you'll grow pubic hair. You can choose to shave it or trim it or leave it alone - it's your body, so it's up to you." Easy, right?

Kimberly | 3:55 PM

OH.MY.GOD. I finally met my soulmate. I too, have issues with large quantities of the same item. I tell everyone that I have issues with "things in bulk". It began in grade school, while looking at an overhead photo of a bunch of people in Japan. All that black hair freaked me out. Pictures of bugs in bulk totally send me over the edge. And that picture you linked? ICK. So, so happy I'm not the only one, because everyone I tell this too thinks I'm certifiable.

PS, I hate hair, too.

Kimberly
http://yeptheyareallmine.blogspot.com/

Anonymous | 3:58 PM

I'm with you Rebeccca. Been shaving since I was 13 and it's the norm. (My older sister told me all about it, and called them "the spiders") Needless to say, I'm sure when Fable gets to be a teen, she will ask and she'll probably do as you. My daughter did! :)

Anonymous | 4:28 PM

Who gets to decide what is and isn't feminist? Its like trying to figure out who is or isn't sufficiently punk rock in the day and who, then, is the poseur.

I guess if a woman is shaving it all because she is full of self loathing and is trying to fit a mold, then its not the bald pussy thats unfeminist, its her whole mindset. By the same token, an uber well adjusted lady might get brazilian waxes - who cares? Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 5:35 PM

I've always been a wee confused as to why pubes are such a feminist statement. And I wonder, for those who feel strongly that they are, if you shave your armpits. Because I don't really see what the difference is. We shave our pits for the same reasons, right? Or am I missing something?

Ginny | 5:46 PM

Yeah I'm not really on board with the whole pubes as feminist statement thing either. Perhaps it's our age (I'm same age as you)? That hair annoys that shit out of me so I shave it off. I think I've been doing it since I was about 20? It takes us a bit longer to catch on here in Aus heh. Couple times a week when I do my legs and other business. I really want to get it waxed but I'm scared it will hurt. I'm such a sook.

Anonymous | 5:53 PM

Not a Momversation watcher either. No kids, but I do have a vagina.

Not sure what is fiminist about it,
I am in my late 30's and have been shaving since I was about 13. I was a total tomboy who played sports and really hated that sweaty feeling. I just decided one day that it felt better being short and off it went. It felt better and it still does.

I am the youngest of four girls, didn't see any Playboy mags or have any influence from my Mom or sisters.

I can't tell you how skeeved out I get when we have guests visit and there are leftover pubes left in the shower.

ERM | 7:38 PM

hey rebecca-
wondering if you could advise on how exactly to shave the inner parts...you know, once things begin to fold in and the skin gets super sensitive? It's almost like you need a tiny razor or something...know what i mean?

in other thoughts...it's almost zen-garden like!

Amber, The Unlikely Mama | 7:46 PM

I shave...all of it. Had a Brazilian once, ouch!
I hate hair, anywhere really. Would have my body, from the neck down, laser treated...if I could afford it.
These days I've been super lazy though and barely get to my legs. Not a fan of hair on guys either...so it's all fair here. We both look prepubescent :P

Anonymous | 8:08 PM

I don't shave, totally natural...I don't even like to shave my bikini line because my skin is so sensitive to shaving. It's miserable for me when i do. And the reason i don't shave is the reason many commentors have said they do--i find it just gets too hot and sweaty down there if i do shave. I've gotten a brazillian before, but i like the au naturale look (thinking of a painting of a crotch shot from a classical artist but cant remember the painter's name...)

Anonymous | 10:12 PM

OH MY WORD, thank you ERM for asking rebecca for a 'how to'... i mean, i get it as far as just shave it off, but... on the top it's easy, but it's the under parts.. how do u shave that area.. sorry to be so graphic, but do you pull everything open/apart or close everything and just shave it right over the top?

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 10:19 PM

Anonymous + anonymous -

Hm. Maybe I should do a how-to video tutorial? Totally kidding.

I think its easier to shave in the "inner areas" ... less hair and easier to remove ... maybe because the hair is finer and less? I guess I do a spread and shave type thing, yeah. From the inside out. Wow. I hope my grandparents aren't reading this.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 10:21 PM

Also, re: bumps - Maybe because I've shaved for a million years, I seldom get any ingrowns. I also have very little body hair so shaving is super easy because there's not much going on anyway. I don't think I could grow a bush if I tried. I think it totally depends on how much hair you have and how thick, etc.

WorkingMom | 10:52 PM

Have to stop laughing long enough to weigh in - another bikini line waxer/trimmer of the rest. I try to have it within the confines of my bathing suit.

I can also relate to the whole not-being-able-to-reach-during-pregnancy thing: Child #1 - wanted to be trimmed and manicured for delivery. Progressively cared less with each delivery - the Baby was lucky certain parts of my body had seen a razor at any point during the pregnancy!

Anonymous | 11:11 PM

Where I grew up nobody really shaves, though they may trim a bikini line for a bathing suit. Some people even leave underarm hair growing. It never occurred to me to think of it as a cleanliness issue until I came here. People's standards of what is clean are a bit confusing to me...that for example they would shave their pubic hair to feel clean but they would do a bunch of other things that would be considered dirty by other people. If you wash yourself down there I don't see what the big deal is.

I think a lot of it is cultural. Someone may say that they did it because they felt dirty or some other "practical" reason but if nobody else did it or talked about doing it, I doubt they would do it. Personally I just trim the bikini line and that is it but I don't have a wild bush to tame anyway. Also, I would worry about cutting myself down there and getting irritated skin...and it sounds like another chore. I got a brazilian wax once just to try it out and I looked SO FUNNY. It really looked like a camel's toe and I felt so weird and naked. I definitely feel like I look the way I'm supposed to with what I have. And since we'd rather do the real thing than oral it doesn't really matter much.

melanirae | 11:27 PM

Personally, I find hairless cats to be sooo 2008. As long as that shit isn't trying to make a run for it, it's all good.

melanirae | 11:33 PM

The reason it's a feminist issue, is that *most* women do it because an ideal standard of beauty has been set by our patriarchal culture. It's the same reason you wear makeup, dye your hair, etc. We are products of out culture. That is inescapable.

If it's a subject you are into I suggest reading The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf.

JLYoungsma | 11:46 PM

Fellow 14 year old shaver here! I'm glad to know that I wasn't the only freshman of '95 keeping it clean.
I attribute my hair-free obsession to a random lady at Raging Water's in the early 90's... (The years of high rise bikini bottoms.) She laid down to tan and her personal shrubbery was bursting from the sides of her bikini and from then on I vowed NEVER to let that happen to me.
Forever scarred.

Amanda | 4:22 AM

I have a complex set of methods that I'm sure could be simplified- trim the front, at-home sugar wax the bikini line, shave the undercarriage. Like Rebecca said, that's honestly the easiest part to comfortably shave for some reason.

Never gone completely bare, I'm prone to the occasional seriously painful ingrown and I don't want to set that standard as an expectation for the hubs in case it's just not comfortable for me;)

jessica | 5:40 AM

hahahahaha i do a spread and shave too!!! spread with one hand, shave with the other- is there any other way?

Charlotte | 7:05 AM

OK, I just have to ask:

What about the stubble situation?

I shaved "down there" exactly ONCE, and the stubble just about killed me. KILLED ME.

Now I'm a mom and glad I occassionally get to shave my armpits. Legs? Haha. Surely you jest.

ConfidentFool | 7:51 AM

This post reminds me of the movie A History of Violence with Maria Bello. My husband and I were watching and during a particularly steamy scene they flashed her full on bush. I think I was more shocked than my husband but we were both equally grossed out. For me shaving is about my own personal hygiene but I won't lie and say I didn't judge after watching that flick. Ingrown hairs are a bitch though.

fairlytypical | 8:06 AM

ooo interesting one, rebecca! I approve wholeheartedly of the topic!!

I, like you, have been shaving FOREVER. And trimming. It is just something I started doing for no one other than myself. I'm 26 and must have started this when I was like 13/14. Just on my own. I guess one day I was like "well now, this is all far too unruly. good bye fluff!" Or whatever. So doing some tending down there doesn't bother me. Whatever.

What DOES bother me is this...

I have a lot of friends who wax and shave and obsessively tend their lady parts because they think this is what guys want or more importantly because they are nervous about presenting themselves to guys in any form other than carefully trimmed, clipped,and shaped. I mean, seriously guys? I doubt any man is thinking that carefully about whats going on down there when he's dropping trou (I don't know any guys who trim at all) so why are you trying so hard to make sure what you're presenting to him is some sanitized version of what you naturally look like? If you're doing it for guys - I think you're doing it for the wrong reason. I agree with Maggie about this bizarre porn aesthetic that seems to have some people in its grips. Of course, not to say everyone is like that or doing it for that reason. But I think if you're motivated by how men will react you are doing it for the wrong reason.

In recent years my thought process has partially been like Jessica's - I cannot imagine the dynamics of oral sex if I didn't so take to some landscaping so to speak. That isn't my motivating factor but you know in the interest of courtesy I'm a bit more motivated on occasions where I otherwise feel too lazy.

And finally, waxing. Argh. SO MANY of my friends do this and is freak me the heck out. I mean I get it - you can reach hard to look places, sounds easier than trimming and shaving. But I can't imagine how much it would hurt, what if my skin didn't like it, in growns, and most of all someone fiddling around down there with HOT WAX and linen strips. No thanks, kids.

verdemama | 10:28 AM

I, too, fall into the shave/trim camp. I shave the edges, trim the landing strip and call it a day. My skin has a horrible aversion to wax -- seriously, the only body part I can wax is my brow, and even that leaves my skin inflamed for a day. I'm happy with my situation -- I'm a natural blonde so the bush is pretty tame to begin with -- but if other ladies are into the full-on wax-it-bald look, then more power to 'em!

Anonymous | 10:39 AM

I shave it all and have been shaving it since I was 16 or 17. Pubic hair really grosses me out, so its not a feminist issue, I hate it on guys too. My boyfriend is usually trimmed really short or completely shaved also. He was already shaving/trimming before we got together. Perfect match!

Heather O'Neill | 11:23 AM

I have done it all.

Shaving makes me break out in red bumps and ingrown hairs. Sexy. Waxing is the way to go for me but not a full Brazilian. Just a nice little landing strip.

Last time I had it all taken off I said to my boyfriend, "I don't feel sexy. I feel like a really fat baby."

I think he agreed.

Deidre | 2:27 PM

I get a bikini wax and a trim - sometimes. I am also fairly hairless, so i can leave it for a few months before I have to go back. Going totally hairless kind of freaks me out. but I love being able to run around in a bathing suit and not worry about stray hairs poking out. That's why I started waxing - it has nothing to do with Inspector Climate (the boyfriend).

MaryAnn | 2:32 PM

i have shaved my legs since i was 12, and do it almost daily because i love the way my smooth legs feel. i tend to wear mostly skirts, so i hate the feeling of my stubley leg brushing up against stuff.
however, i will totally admit that i keep my lady parts shaved almost exculsively for Oral Sex. my husband won't refuse to go down if i don't, but i know how much i prefer him to do some trimming so i'm not choking on hair, so out of love, respect and curtesy i try to keep my bits maintained.
i will admit i was much better at it before we had a kid, but i still put out the effort as often as i can.
i don't understand how shaving in anyway is a feminist issue, but i've never really understood how the makeup argument is a femenisit issue either. If you like to shave or wax because it makes you feel more comfortable, awesome. If not, then don't.

Anonymous | 2:41 PM

Oh god I love you and Momversation. I had to comment but anonymous style lol. I shave the bikini area (because I cannot STAND errant hairs protruding from panties) and trip everything else, mainly because, when it gets too long, my bits overheat. I'm prone to yeast infections, and so that area needs to be kept a steady 75 degree at all time (ha, wishful thinking) to avoid the nasty itchies.
That being said, I used to (and would probably prefer to?) shave it all, until one day in college I got a HORRIBLY ingrown/infected hair follicle and my OB/GYN threatened to drain it (with a needle!!!) if it didn't get better, and her comment forever stuck with me: "Some places are not meant to be shaved." Of course this was totally her own judgement, but I lightened up considerably on the shave-fest and haven't returned to it since then.

Anonymous | 2:47 PM

OK I'm anonymous at 2:41 pm and by "trip" I meant trim.

Charlie | 2:55 PM

Sharing in the openly given TMI,
The first time I shaved down yonder was when I had a house party at 18 and was asked by guy "friend" if he could do it for me "cause its pretty 70's down there", and I drunkenly agreed, so he did with help from a couple friends and a video camera.
One of the most regrettable moments of my life, but I never was able to get my hands on that tape to burn it.
Ever since I have kept myself properly groomed.

K | 4:43 PM

Ahhhh, I love living a pube-free existence, and much to the chagrin of others, I admit I do my own waxing. It solves all of those time/money/awkwardness issues and doesn't involve a 5 o'clock shadow!

jessica | 5:16 PM

i want to answer charlotte who asked about stubble itch- i have to say that i shave with the hair, not against it. if i shave against it's a little smoother but the itch when it grows back is bad. so i shave with in the direction it grows (down for me) and it's all good.

b | 6:08 PM

Hmm. I'm in my 30s, no kids, full/coarse texture and I've tried everything. Wax (ouch & incomplete), Nair (burns like a mofo), natural (looks untidy to my eye), shaving (ingrowns). I've settled on what I cal "The Swiss": shaved pantyline and undercarriage, and natural but trimmed front (beard trimmers). Perfect.

Christine | 7:58 PM

It really bothers me that fully-shaved has become the norm (I think) because it's been dictated by the porn industry and squeamish boys. And as much fun as porn can be, THAT is not what real women look like, bush, tush, boobs, whatever. It just irks me that beautiful, sexy women are being made to feel insecure, and go to great lengths to look like that nonsense.

So hold on a sec while I step off this soapbox. Right. I wax the edges and the undercarriage. Myself. With a mirror, if you want to get technical. And my reason is that I commute 30km a day by bike, and nothing is worse than that shit tugging. AND, oral, of course!

Amber, The Unlikely Mama | 8:02 PM

I don't understand the difference to some that think shaving all but a landing strip is more "positively feminist" than just getting rid of it all? I started shaving my ALL far before I was introduced to the porn industry standards. Honestly, it's more work to maintain a "design", specially if you're gonna squat down and get all underneath anyway :-)

That said, I'm a lazy shaver so it only happens once a month or so!

jessica | 7:02 AM

i don't understand the whole feminism thing. i shave because i want to, not because i'm trying to keep up with porn standards or with what a man wants. doesn't doing what i want on my terms make my shaving an empowering thing? and as for upkeep time- it takes barely any time at all. about the same as brushing my teeth so really, it's not an issue.

Fifi | 8:12 AM

I have to say that I have had serious hippie pubes and pornstar baldness in my past, and didn't really care either way, UNTIL it started going gray. I promise you, nothing else in this world will get trimmers out faster than Bride Of Frankenstein pubes.

Lindserannie | 12:22 PM

It never even occurred to me that people shaved or waxed their pubes until I was 19 and my 18 year old cousin went away to college on a full basketball scholarship to a Christian college and every girl on her team was a shaver. She came back home and was a huge advocate for it - I resisted for a long time until curiosity got the better of me so I shaved once just to try it out. This was before I had ever had sex - no boy was ever in that area EVER until 7 years later (yes, I was a virgin until I was 26...and not just a "technical" one). I had never seen any porn or was aware of any societal ideas of being shaved being best...I just never knew about it.
It felt great and I enjoyed being shaved but I only did it once as my hair is thick and shaving that area isn't possible on a regular basis without a lot of discomfort & pain.

A few years later I decided to try waxing - AMAZING! If you can handle the short lived pain and you enjoy having no hair down there it is basically the best thing ever. I did that for a few years and then decided I didn't want to continue to spend the money so now I just trim. But I do miss shaving and I look forward to the day when I can afford to wax on a regular basis.

My only influence toward being bald down there was my cousin: a conservative Christian who has only ever kissed her own husband and has been exposed to less than even me :)

Anonymous | 4:04 PM

I too, shave it all, for a lot of the same resons as you explained Rebecca. Been doing it for as long as high school I think (am 36 now). Mostly because I swam a lot/spent all my summers in the pool and it was easier to shave it all off then try and make creative foilage.

I think because it was my own idea to shave (e.g., no boyfriend ever suggested otherwise to me) I never connected the bare look to prepubescent desires, porn or femminism (or to shave it all is antifeminist? not sure). I spent all my time in the pool during the summers, still do, that I never thought it was any big deal.

I understand how some people could see that but I'm not motivated by those types of things.

Beth | 11:46 PM

I have some of the most sensitive skin known to womankind, I think. I try the shaving route about once every couple of years, and the resulting WEEKS of razor bumps and itching-hurting-stinging-stubbly-awfulness are enough to keep my razor far away from my ladybits for the next two years. Nair might as well be napalm, and I can't even imagine subjecting myself to a wax. No, no, no. That said, my husband and I are both fans of the landing strip. I just feel prettier and more comfortable that way... so it's Veet Sensitive for me. It doesn't get me perfectly smooth, but no burning or hot wax or razor burn? Yes please.

Anonymous | 10:56 AM

Here's a secret.
My husband shaves me.
He's a dab hand, does a fantastic job and it makes for the best foreplay ever.
Mostly he keeps it fairly basic with a neat landing strip, for special occasions (birthdays and such) it all goes. The regrowth is not always comfortable but it's TOTALLY worth the fun :)

Anonymous | 11:23 AM

Swear to god the next verification word is 'excita'.
Wha ha.
Ok, I'll leave before I get seriously porno on your blog.
Great topic - thanks!