Everybody who’s done it knows: waxing hurts like a bitch. When you can’t take the pain, you shave and deal with a minefield of ingrowns, and then when you get tired of the upkeep, you apologize to your bank account and opt for laser hair removal to put an end to it all. Unfortunately that doesn’t always last, so when it grows back you start the process all over again. But why did you choose to enter this painful cycle in the first place? You may think, “beauty is pain”, but it shouldn’t be. And who really cares what we do with our pubic hair, anyway? Well, apparently everybody does.
A recent survey of 1,000 American adults found that women hate pubic grooming, but do it anyway because 70 percent of men and 71 percent of women think hairy women are bad. Only 37 percent of women think they should remove their pubic hair, but 41 percent of them do it regularly – and for women under 30, that number jumps to 55 percent. It’s no surprise that nobody wants to remove their pubic hair given the aforementioned pain cycle, but it is surprising how many women do it even though they think they shouldn’t.
We can point fingers at our culture for convincing us all that hairy women are bad. “Shaving and ‘scaping is much more common in American culture than European. When you walk into stores, there are whole aisles dedicated to feminine hygiene, with tons of options to rid yourself of pubic hair,” Loryn Ashton, a women’s health nurse practitioner with Maven digital health clinic tells Stylecaster. “This tells us that hair is unwanted, that it is unfeminine and not sexy. I have had multiple clients apologize for not shaving or waxing before their exam.”
It doesn’t help that hair removal products are labeled “feminine hygiene,” either. Ashton clarifies that pubic hair is certainly not unhygienic – it’s the opposite, actually. “Recent research shows that removing pubic hair can increase your rise of viral or fungal infection, ingrown hairs, or even scarring,” she says. “You can pick things up from dirty surfaces, contaminated tools, or by introducing bacteria into newly opened pores or nicks after shaving or waxing.” A 2014 study even confirmed that pubic hair can protect you from STIs.
Ashton also credits porn (and the men that watch it) with glorifying and expecting hairlessness. “Many men request their female partners to minimize their pubic hair – in fact, that’s my own husband’s preference,” she adds. While men may not be coming around in terms of their preferences, women are easing up on their grooming habits. “We’ve definitely seen a shift. When ‘Sex and the City’ was in its heyday, going completely bare was more on trend,” Jennifer Pesce, brand director at Shobha salon, tells Stylecaster. “But now people are opting for a little more on top, with everything still pretty bare beneath and on the sides—in other words, no bathing suit flyaways.” Hopefully the shifting trend will mean shifting opinions about hairy women.