An office full of women. A simple question. A torrent of responses.
How and when have you been shamed for your body hair?
It started after radio personality Kristie Mercer wrote about her friend, a man in his 30s, who had never seen pubic hair on a woman until recently. That’s right. It was something foreign and exotic and slightly naughty.
Why had he never seen pubic hair?
Because women, girls and teenagers, we are all led to believe – even without understanding that we’re being led anywhere – one thing: That women are sexier and and more fashionable and somehow “cleaner”, even, when we are “bare down there”. It’s the only option if you ever want to be seen anywhere in swimwear, or to ‘get lucky’ or to undress and change clothes in a room full of teenage girlfriends.
Usually, there’s not a whisper of a pube. Sometimes there might be a landing strip. But there is never (hardly, ever) full, untamed, ungrooomed natural “bush”.
Listen: ‘How do I explain to my step daughters why I have no pubic hair?’ (Post continues below.)
We don’t do it because we enjoy it. The two-days-post-shave rash makes me squirm just thinking about it and there is no pain like the piercing of an ingrown. But we do it almost automatically. Without stopping to question: ‘Why?’ and ‘Who am I doing this for?’
When we do stop to think. Here’s what we realise:
“My first boyfriend was the first person I’d ever done anything remotely intimate with, so his views on my body had a lot of influence. After we finally had sex, he told me, “I don’t usually ‘do stuff’ with girls who don’t have Brazilians. All the other girls I’ve been with have had them’.” – Samantha, 28.
“A boyfriend of mine once told me – after sex – that ‘you should really take care of that hair underneath’ (even though my front and labia were shaved). He said ‘it’s really distracting’… Ummm, how?” – Karen, 25.