What is it about female body hair that is considered undesirable by Americans?
What makes women feel the need to get rid of it, often through painful means such as shaving and waxing? Are the red bumps and ingrown hairs a fair price to pay for the prepubescent look that men supposedly prefer? I mean, body hair is natural, isn’t it?
No one knows for certain the purpose of pubic hair. Some say that we have pubic hair for physical attraction. Science says it’s there to help catch and spread the scents a person’s body gives off—called pheromones and glandular secretions—which are powerful aphrodisiacs. These scents are fundamental to the ritual of attraction.
The medical field has suggested that pubic hair may catch and prevent everyday bacteria from entering the body.
For purely aesthetic reasons, this writer thinks that pubic hair (especially if it is trimmed) is attractive.
That said, based on my direct experience with women in their 20’s to their 40’s (much to my disappointment), the baldness trend continues to persist.
I did a little research on pubic hair as part of my efforts to understand when and why the media and the porn industry (and subsequently American women) decided that baldness is sexy:
- Pubic hair shaving actually originated in ancient Egypt and Greece when prostitutes had to shave for both hygienic reasons and as a clear sign of their profession. Although female body shaving was established as the norm between 1915 and 1945, pubic hair removal did not gain a strong foothold until the 1980s. The big hair look of the 1980’s was reserved for a woman’s head.
- Islamic faith requires pubic hair shaving. Shaving pubic hair is one of the Sunnahs of the fitrah, and Islam has stipulated that it should not be left without shaving for more than forty days (that seems quite long to go between shavings according most of the shaving women I spoke with). The basic principle is that every person should shave his/her pubic hair, unless they are unable to so because they are too old or too sick.
- Male Bicycle racers have been shaving their legs for years. Despite the argument that I regularly hear, that cleaning road rash wounds is “easier with no leg hair,” the true reason lies in tradition and vanity. According to the professionals I have spoken with, shaving your legs is “all about looking clean and tradition.” To shave your legs indicates that you are serious about bike riding, regardless of how fast you actually go. Half of being a cyclist, some might say, is showing off your package and shaving your legs. By this rationale, guys who ride bikes for recreation and insist on shaving their legs most likely are having some kind of sexual identity issues.
- Most women I have spoken with about this subject, regardless of adult age, maintain some kind of hair removal ritual. Most suggested that they were completely bare; those who weren’t trimmed their pubic area into a “landing strip.”
- America’s relatives in Europe are even starting to see women shave their legs and underarms, a trend that is relatively new by American standards. There is a common perception that European women, with the possible exception of those in the English-speaking British Isles, do not make it a practice to shave at all. Having recently traveled to a clothing optional beach on the French island of St. Barts, I can attest to the fact that this is not entirely true. Many young European women are beginning to shave their underarms and their legs as well, although you still certainly see women of all ages with hair left in its natural state on legs and arms alike. That said, most British women seem to share the North American cultural preference for clean-shaven legs and arms.
- Most of the Asian American women I have known and the few that I have dated (ages 25-35) didn’t shave their legs or armpits largely because of the fact that they barely had any hair at all. That said, they didn’t shave their pubic area either because (I think) they had a natural “landing strip”. One Asian friend of mine plucked the sparse amount of underarm hair she had with tweezers.
- Waxing and Brazilians (shaving and waxing are quite popular in the urban parts of South America) have become so popular that some States have enacted hair removal laws. Missouri recently passed a law requiring parental consent for minors seeking to be waxed “on or near” genitalia.
The good news for men like me is that women with pubic hair are beginning to be fashionable once again. Witness this drawing from an American Apparel ad:
You may think that this is some desperate ploy by a company that has been teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. To me, this is quite beautiful.
And the signal that maybe, just maybe, 1980’s fashion, the desire to look like a porn star and the sick notion that prepubescence is somehow sexy is coming to an end.