September 17 2021 | Written by Madi Hanaka, Graphics by Sissi Chen
I was 14 when I shaved my pubic hair for the first time. To be honest, I had never put too much thought into shaving in that region; that was, until I was chatting about it with a few of my girlfriends. Upon admitting that I had never done it before, one of them – wide eyed – responded with:
“https://we-are-marlow.myshopify.com/admin/articlesOh my god I would never be able to deal with a full-on bush down there and trust me a guy wouldn’t want to either… gross”.
Next thing I knew, I was hunched over in a squatted position on my shower floor with a razor in my hand, legs quaking. The thought of a sharp blade being anywhere near my labia made me want to throw up, but to give my vulva the makeover it apparently needed, I followed through.
I’ve come to realize that I am not alone in this experience. In fact, the majority of young womxn I know still remove most, if not all of their pubic hair - and I put emphasis on young because being hairless wasn’t always trendy. Throughout history we have seen several different pubic hair fads. Here are some of the most memorable:
1 - The Bush.
The 1960s marked the birth of the bush and this trend carried on for an entire decade. Wild pubic hair was all the rage! Some women would occasionally trim or “tidy” depending on their desired shape, but typically the more hair you had, the better!
2 - The Bikini.
In the 80s, pubic hair removal was on the rise. Around this time, the bush went out of style and partially removing your pubic hair became the standard. While women in the 80s weren’t going fully bare, grooming or “cleaning up” the bikini area was the new normal.
3 - The Landing Strip and the Start of the Brazilian.
Hair… beware! In the 90s, full pubic hair removal started to become very popular. At this time, women were publicly shamed for their pubic hair – specifically in mainstream media. One of the most memorable pubic hair-related tv moments was this scene from Sex in the City.
4 - The Brazilian.
The Brazilian trend is still very popular and there are several methods available for womxn to achieve this look. Many womxn today opt for a more frugal approach: shaving. This method is effective in removing the hair quickly, however regrowth also happens just as fast. There are thousands of YouTube videos of young womxn sharing their shaving advice, providing tips on how to avoid razor burn, ingrown hairs and general irritation.
Waxing studios everywhere also offer Brazilian services, typically charging $50.00 each visit. Clients generally return every 2 to 3 weeks depending on regrowth.
Should an individual be looking for a long-lasting solution to their pubic hair, laser hair removal has also become increasingly more common over the years. This service generally costs between $200.00 to $250.00 per session and takes approximately 10 sessions to effectively remove the hair. In total, the laser Brazilian method costs around $2500.00.
Results From Our Poll
As part of our preparation for this blog post, the Marlow team ran a poll on Instagram to learn more about our followers’ approach to pubic hair grooming. 90% of respondents stated that they removed their pubic hair to some degree - some when it was convenient, others regularly. 59% of respondents declared shaving as their primary pubic hair removal method. Waxing/sugaring on the other hand accounted for 31% of participants and laser accounted for only 10%. Regardless of the method chosen, the main takeaway from this poll is that pubic hair removal has become incredibly routine for many.
Based on the prevalence of pornography and hypersexualized images in mainstream media, we are inundated with content that pushes the rhetoric that female body hair is undesired. Considering how often we are exposed to these messages, it is clear why so many womxn are willing to empty their pockets and test their pain tolerance in exchange for a hairless vulva.
However, according to Dr. Jen Gunter, gynecologist and author of “The Vagina Bible”, pubic hair removal puts more than just your bank account at risk and can have negative effects on the overall health of your vulva. Gunter emphasizes in her book that pubic hair exists for a reason and although society has led us to believe it is unclean, this is certainly not the case. She highlights that by removing your pubic hair, you risk being more susceptible to certain infections (STIs) and overall irritation (ingrown hairs, razor burn, and/or inflammation).
Source: Gunter, J. (2019). The vagina bible: The vulva and the vagina--separating the myth from the medicine (pp. 117-118). Toronto, Ontario: Random House Canada.
With all of these potential risks on the table, why do womxn still choose to remove their pubic hair? Well, that is a loaded question with no concrete answer. Porn culture – as previously noted – is one possibility, as it shapes how society views sex and effects our individual preferences. For example, according to Dr. Jen Gunter, 60% of men prefer their female partners to be hairless.
While this could very well be the case, another potential answer is that it just comes down to personal preference: some womxn enjoy being hairless, others don’t. As Jen highlights in her book: “simply saying do not remove your pubic hair is neither practical nor helpful advice. Women get to choose what they do with their own bodies”. Ultimately, what you choose to do with your pubic hair is completely up to you. Pubic hair grooming is for yourself and no one else!