The Pornification of Pubic Hair.

Via Mark Kreloff
on Feb 2, 2011
get elephant's newsletter


 Updates: 84% of American women groom pubic hair with 62% opting for complete removal ( “Pubic hair functions as a protective cushion for sensitive skin, and has its own hygienic purpose, trapping bacteria and preventing it from entering the vaginal opening. “Prepubertal girls have a higher incidence of irritation because they don’t have that protection,” Dr. Gunter said. “From Sports Illustrated, the Latest Body Part for Women to Fix.”  OPINION > Great! Another Thing to Hate About Ourselves

Pubic Hairless.

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.

funny beard pubic hair

Vaguely relephant mindful bonus:


About Mark Kreloff

Mark Kreloff is an entrepreneur in Boulder, Colorado. He started his yoga practice 10 years ago with a “donation only” class in Santa Monica taught by Bryan Kest. To this day, it was the best class he has ever taken in his life.


75 Responses to “The Pornification of Pubic Hair.”

  1. elephantjournal says:

    Mera N hair in general must be strictly controlled in this society, people with afri can textured hair have to chemically alter it, women have to shave their body hair and men have to shave their facial hair and short hair on their head. What about us yogis who believe our natural lot of hair is sacred?

    Rachel B
    hahah hair was for friction people. back when we ran around naked and needed it to aid us in whatever way. now men make it appear undesirable by acting like its disgusting. i mean.. we do the same.. how many women really like 'men with …hair sweaters' ? lol we dont want a man with thick icky hair all over his back or say.. his ass ya know? quid pro quo.

    and the sick need of approval is probably the main driving force in the 'shaving' world. be it your boss not giving you grief over a long beard, a man turning away at a womans hairy underarm, a woman hating waking up with her mans chest pubes in her teeth.. etc 😉
    Valerie S I do have to say that I wear jeans A LOT, and if I don't shave my legs I get ingrown hairs and they annoy the crap out of me. I don't shave to please the opposite sex, simply to alleviate the irritation.
    Just me.

    Ashley C i can say for sure that the mainstream totally bare down there female look is dying a slow death and the triangle/landing strip is coming back.

    And i happen to like nicely trimmed facial hair and longer/longish hair on men.

    Mera N i think it is silly to be afraid of hair, i personally have had no problem with the issue of hair being unattractive, i think it silly that men put so much effort into looking like little boys, and yet i dont think it really matters beyond perspective. i find it is much easier to keep my hair intact, find it appealing and attractive on myself and others and glad i can spend what used to be shaving time being carefree, secure and unburdened about my appearance/grooming. it is all in how you choose to view it, 😉

    Carol K ahh should not of used the hairy leg as an example….looks like a man leg..and no woman wants to look like a man leg, I'm afraid it ruins your stories point.

    Mark R When the Kids inaugural for Obama was done by Disney — not our freaks — I almost did an Elvis on the TV. 🙂

    Valerie S Carol, it is a man leg! A biker's leg.

    Cristov R Even worse is that men are following the same trend.

    Mark R
    Sorry Elephant — Lenny beat you by at least 40 years.
    Obscenity is a human manifestation. This toilet has no central nervous system, no level of consciousness. It is not aware — it is a dumb toilet –… it cannot be obscene — it’s impossible. If it could be obscene, it could be cranky, it could be a Communist toilet, a traitorous toilet. It can do none of these things. This is a dopey toilet, Jim

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Waylon Lewis and Jack Daw, Tomas Jonsen. Tomas Jonsen said: RT @elephantjournal: Public Hairless? Boo: […]

  3. AMO says:

    I started shaving all the hair off when I was 12, basically as soon as it grew in. I had never seen porn of any kind, though at the time (1970s) porn stars still had hair (I know this now from seeing images of "retro porn"). It wasn't about being "sexy" as I wasn't having sex, had no desire to, didn't even have a boyfriend though I was starting to think about boys. I had never seen a woman naked other than my mom and a couple of her friends over the years and my mom was a hippy, definitely not shaven. The hair just felt gross and somehow dirty to me. I still feel that I smell better and most certainly feel cleaner and more comfortable with no hair. The idea that the lack of hair in the pubic region is all about sex or being attractive to men is odd to me. While some men like hair free and others don't, my body and it's condition are maintained for MY comfort and pleasure. Having hair "down there" doesn't please me and is uncomfortable so I keep it hair free. I happen to have a body type that could NEVER be associated with prepubescence from any perspective, I am clearly and unequivocally a woman so that simply is not a viewpoint on the question that resonates with me.

    Keep asking questions and exploring. As a society I think it's unhealthy for women to feel the must look a certain way or not be lovable or attractive. I hope for all women, hairy or not so much, that they feel their own pleasure and comfort are more important than that of any man they would like to attract. I just thought I'd offer another perspective…

    • Jen says:

      So you hate you "dirty" "hippy" mother and that drives you to shave. Sad.

    • jojo says:

      I feel the same as you, the only difference being that I dont shave. I find the hair so comfortable and natural. I started shaving since i was 13, i stopped when i was 21 and its been so so good. I think every woman should do what she wants, but i wonder how many would really remove hair, if removing hair wasnt an actual thing.

  4. elephantjournal says:

    # Mark, did you read the article, first? If you have, you can leave a comment for Mark K. If you're just going off the title…

    # Carol, sounds like you didn't read the article before commenting..!

    Mark Richert Skimmed, the usual PC happy stuff. It's all been covered — we need to honor those who go before us. Lenny died for being blacklisted.

    Valerie Soraci Wait, I thought this was about pubic hair….

    Mark Richert Lenny spoke about why parts are dirty — and if we are made by god in "his" image — then parts of god are dirty, yes? That is — we are all images of the divine. To state that we are divine, all of us sacred as a starting point — well, that's pretty amazing for around 1960. And pretty valid today.

    Valerie S
    I agree that it's pretty amazing someone back them was able to confidently call out BS when he saw it.

    If you want to timeline this shit, I'm playing my Plato card with an image of the Cave on it. 😉 Honor that.

    Don't be an image of the shadow, live in the skin you're in. Stop trying to get that perfect view on the wall of what it is you're supposed to be, just be.

    I think it's great he could tastefully write about this subject. It's not like women haven't questioned or asked or caught a glimpse of each other's private parts and how we choose to keep them tidy.

    And it's not like you haven't heard guys get questioned about their lack of hair on their bodies- "dude, do you shave your legs??"
    In the end, we all have our opinions and preferences and on some animalistic level they expose us for who we are and that can be terrifying… or really f'ing liberating.

    Your choice.
    Valerie Soraci and, it's just hair, really, just lift poofs of modified fur. It's an extra gift from Mother Nature to keep us guessing 🙂 and shaving.. and waxing…and plucking.. and trimming… and Epilady-ing, hello product of the 80's!

    Gayle Menaker McWeeney ‎"See my beard? Ain't it weird? Don't be skeered, it's just a beard." ~George Carlin

    Karki Meade
    Everyone has a body and most bodies have hair. I think of my own removal of hair much like a tattoo that isn't there: it's my choice to be this way and it's how I intend to have my body. Whether it's for sexual gratification, my own desir…e, or to please another, it's done because I choose to do it. If I want a tattoo that's permanently engraved on my skin, people might comment on its message or its quality, but few would suggest I'm a deviant anymore. But if I remove body hair, I'm some sort of deviant? It's my body, fuck off.

    You can opine, but look at yourself before you complain. If a woman shaves her legs and underarms but not her pubic hair, she's normal? There's nothing normal or natural about that other than her desire to be hairy and not hairy in chosen places. It's her normal and her natural. And that's fine. If another woman is completely hairy, or gets lasered and is as hairy as a reptile, or a man shaves his entire body while singing patriotic songs, that's normal for that individual.

    Our bodies: we clothe them in unnatural ways, cut our hair, brush our teeth, wipe our asses, get tattoos, shave, use soaps, put extra holes in our ears and elsewhere, color our hair, use our genitals for many purposes other than reproduction, and I'm glad we do.
    # Mark, if you read or even skimmed you'd know this ain't PC. Mark K is prob the least PC guy I've ever known. ~ Waylon

  5. elephantjournal says:

    ahahaha ~ W

  6. mark kreloff says:

    that was not my intention but thanks Laura!

    • vag says:

      well it came across as you were letting the world know that you have a long list of ladies you've experienced with from 20 and on up to no older thank 40…..would have been interesting article. next time maybe.

  7. Melissa says:

    i work at a place that does body sugaring (a superior, much safer and gentler form of hair removal) and i can say that the brazilian is NOT going out of style! the main thing that keeps the business running is women and also men getting brazilians, and from talking with numerous women a day, most say its because they feel cleaner when bare, and they dont have to shave everyday or get in grown hairs.

    • willis holland says:

      but its painful to have hair ripped from your genitals no?

    • trly says:

      well if you really knew what keeps you clean you'd realize that pubic hair prevents infections just as not shaving your armpits and smothering them with perfumes and toxic deodorant leads to breast cancer. keep learning as much as you can to keep your body clean. just as using soap to clean your yoni actually makes it agitated and can lead to a very awful smell……

  8. Alison says:

    Hm. Perhaps just another thing to take up women's time so they can't worry about bigger issues?

    • elephantjournal says:

      I think women, and men for that matter can decide for themselves what is important and what isn't. I think this article gently points out some deeper—and important—issues around this seemingly superficial question. That said, yes, let's focus on those bigger issues, amen—write an article for us, we'll share it up.



  9. organicyogini says:

    i stopped shaving legs & pubes 2 years ago. smartest thing i have ever done. so much more natural and powerful.

  10. Laurie says:

    Seems to me that a man who wants to have sex with a woman who's pubic area looks prepubescent is kinda creepy.

  11. 13thfloorelevators says:

    A lot of people prefer the feeling. It's unclear why your preference is noteworthy.

  12. healthy hair says:

    You didn't interview enough women for this article, clearly.

  13. Brad says:

    perhaps you should try shaving yours. I hear it makes your dick look bigger.

    • ed says:

      may be so but it won't reduce the appearance of child bearing hips.

      • ren says:

        hah? child bearing hips are amazing. boys you're too much. write an article as this is and expect to hear from fired up folks mark. no need to reduce yourself to the battlefield.

        • mark k says:


          thank you. my father always told me 'you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette'. i am a secure man and am easily amused by jokers!


  14. Juliana says:

    I notice a lot of people are anti-shaving for the pleasure of a partner. Just curious… what's wrong with doing something to please a partner? Shaving serves purposes other than looking pre-pubescent. I'd like the guy I'm with to bathe and shave his face so he's clean and I don't get beard burn when we make out. So what? Isn't it sweet and mutually pleasurable to do things to please our partners?

    • steve reeve says:

      It is romantic and beautiful to want to please your partner. If you are more turned on with a shaved face so be it…..that is your prerogative in the same is the writer's prerogative to appreciate the beauty of a natural body.

    • mark kreloff says:


      The point of the story is this: i was wondering if i was the only man left with the "mostly natural" preference…..for sure a woman should do what she wants with her body regardless of someone else's preference including making a grooming change to please a lover. I was trying to create some awareness for the prevailing grooming choice and get some people to take a position……success!


  15. Andrea says:

    Yes, we get it. You are a connoisseur. Congratulations.

  16. prepubescent? says:

    So you've compared the sex appeal of shaved adult women with that of naked prepubescent girls? No? Have you evaluated the differential degree of attraction of convicted pedophiles to these two groups? No again? Then on what basis do you conclude that shaved adult women in any way resemble the naked prepubescent girls? Our aesthetic preferences may differ, but unless you're going to tell me you've done the case-control experiments, stop implicating those who merely disagree with you in matters of lifestyle choices.

  17. Varvara says:

    What stroke me the most in this article was the sentence : "Missouri recently passed a law requiring parental consent for minors seeking to be waxed “on or near” genitalia."… just give us a break, will you??? Soon they'll be passing laws requiring parental/governmental consent to breath in and breath out … that is so so sick …stupidity has no limit, really …

    • elephantjournal says:

      Or passing a law requiring folks to spell breathe in and out correctly. My mom, an English teacher, would have loved that one. ~ Waylon

  18. Robin says:

    Are you serious folks? There are far more serious matters to 'debate'. Mark…you are one sick puppy!

    • elephantjournal says:

      Like? This brings up issues of sexuality, feminism, relationship, love, body image…not bad for one little article. Constructive suggestions? ~ Waylon

  19. ARCreated says:

    so I don't have long hair…I shave my head (as in my cranium) is that less natural??? I think it's ironic that hipies have long hair— takes more water to clean it 🙂 It isn't against being a woman or anything it's just freeing.
    and I feel that way about body hair — I just like the feeling of being smooth and naked all over it feels clean and uncluttered and to me shows off what god made even better…
    for me I say we all choose what we like best for ourselves and the right partners will be with us when we have mutual understanding…(and maybe love will win out over shaving or not shaving??)

  20. nel says:

    wow. what a joke. we are such a sad culture that the normalcy of hair has become a topic of such debate. who cares, i personally think shaven women that look like they have a ten year old's yoni is perverted. who thinks having sex with a ten yr old is sexy. if you are one of those men please get a good therapist and hopefully you will one day grow up and enjoy the divine sacred beauty of a real woman in her natural sensual way!

    • mark k says:

      I mentioned the age range only to underscore the point that this matter is not related to age. Sorry if my writing offends you. I do not make a living as a writer. The only way I will become better is by writing more and I am deeply grateful to Waylon for publishing my thoughts. Thanks for your critique.

  21. lol says:

    mark, who cares about the age of all the "women" you have been with over the years. you look like pathetic here by all this personal details about the women you have been with between 20-40. could have been an interesting article but that blew it for me…….

    maybe writing is not for you or you just have too much time on your hands.

    • mark k says:


      I mentioned the age range of the women to illustrate that this matter is multi-generational…….So sorry if my writing offends you. I do not make a living as a writer as I am busy raising two teenaged children and with my work…..The only way that I will become a better writer is to keep writing….I am very grateful to Waylon for publishing my thoughts.

    • elephantjournal says:

      LOL, wish you had the courage of your convictions to not be anonymous—perhaps if you offered your name you'd offer a comment worth respectfully replying to. ~ Waylon

  22. ttt says:

    really you must edit your articles and please the content. keep to the yoga and the light . love a debate but not on such a badly written article,

    • elephantjournal says:

      Thanks, TTT. I love this article, personally—I wish I could have written something similar.

      Keep to the yoga and the light? Are shadows—troubling questions—and issues of body image, sexuality, relationship not important to you? ~ Waylon

      • ttt says:

        they are important to me! i appreciate your elephant journal just thought the article could have been edited and would have worked out. it cheeses your magazine to have an article that is talking about pubic hair from a man talking about women he's experienced with. it also makes those women look really bad and i feel sad for them if they are one of those women. as we know i am sure a few of them read your magazine. i just think in a controversial article that could have been profound …. perhaps editing it would have made it so. still think your doing a great job just think at times when there are few professional writers on staff that the content could be edited….. thanks,

  23. Freda says:

    There should have been a statement from his wife or girlfriend for balance in this article. Otherwise this looks like a guy that is looking at too much porn.

  24. Candace says:

    Evolving trends and preferences are interesting. I shaved to near bare before college but then lost the desire to maintain an unnatural image and stopped using cosmetics as well (this coincided with my college experience of expanded social-, environmental-, and self-awareness). For me shaving and daily make-up did not enhance my experience of life enough to make it worth the time, money, and discomfort or the broader consequences of my choices as a consumer. It became my comfort and preference just to be as God made me and accept that if this is unattractive to some it's all right we're just incompatible.

  25. Cynthia Essa says:

    Yeah right ..he's so deep and interesting and unconventional. Go for it Laura!

  26. Sara Young says:

    Yeah, I never understood the thing about shaving or waxing pubic hair. I consider it a red flag if a guy wants me to go hairless, bordering on deal breaker. That is just inhumane and unnatural.

  27. elizabeth says:

    i love my body hair, ya chumps. pit hair 4eva

  28. lee says:

    just for the record porn followed a trend started by women in the late 1980s. that trend was shaving the pubic area clean. porn caught up about 10 years later

  29. elephantjournal says:

    It's a cover story in The Atlantic this month:

  30. […] Stop shaving armpits. (I’m sure Eve Ensler will probably excommunicate me from the feminists for saying it, […]

  31. […] because when my hippie 9-month pregnant friend walked naked into the living room the other day and I saw her huge bush before I saw her belly I thought, “How on earth could her partner navigate through all that?” I gotta’ […]

  32. Meaghan says:

    Just an fyi, I have a brazilian because I (UNDERLINED I!) wanted it and I feel it is more attractive. It has ZERO to do with whether men like it, it has to do with my own being and sexuality.

  33. Tony says:

    When in Rome…

  34. Rita says:

    You’re probably the only man I’ve seen openly admit he likes the bush! Grooming is so annoying and time consuming. It would be nice to not have to worry about it. It’s a little more difficult to ignore when you’re super hairy.

  35. Rachel says:

    Dave Foley has a great bit about how he misses the bush. I, personally, think a woman should do what she wants. Full bush, trimmed, Brazilian, whatever. Yes, that includes going bare to please a partner, but only if she can go back to full bush if she wants, when she wants. I hate the upkeep of waxing/shaving, but also don’t love the feel of an ungroomed bush. I do what I want with my body hair, and while I wish so many woman didn’t feel pressure to groom, I don’t see any of it changing anytime soon.

  36. booklady63 says:

    To the writer: Why does it have to be neatly, uniformly trimmed? Do you trim yours? Standards should be equal between genders, don't you think?

  37. Corinne shaw says:

    Ummmm male leg shaving and sexuality are unrelated. How on earth do you claim men who shave legs are in a sexual identity crisis. Seriously???

  38. Kayleigh says:

    THANK YOU! I started shaving when a guy complained and if I could talk to my younger self, I would’ve said to kick him to the curb and save myself time, pain, and money. I kept up shaving long after we parted ways (even though I felt like I looked like a child) and, having finally let it grow back, will never ever do it again. Ever. Also, for everyone who removes hair because you “like it”, have you asked yourself why you like it? In addition to that, are you aware that it is, in fact, not cleaner and can lead to several types of infections? I’m not suggesting that everyone make peace with their pubes like I have. I’m just saying, it’s healthy to always question where your own motives come from and whether or not they’re based on facts or opinions.

  39. JC says:

    Sadly, I found this article rude. I support everyone having their own opinions and voicing them, however, it needs to be recognized the purpose of this article is no different than the flip side of the coin. Instead of saying, “Shave your genitals or you’re undesirable,” it’s, “Don’t shave your genitals or you’re undesirable.” Both are very shaming. I have tried every combination of body hair, or lack thereof, throughout my life and currently I simply choose to not shave my legs but I do shave my genitals. I find shaving helps me feel cleaner, I feel my partner’s skin against my skin during sex, and overall it’s just more comfortable. How about instead of talking about what people should or shouldn’t do, we focus our energies on allowing people to make their own personal choices and supporting them in whatever that may be without judging them based on our own opinions.

  40. jojo says:

    I don't shave at all or do anything to pubic hair and like I never even think of it. The only difference instead of wearing bikini bottoms I get those shorts made out of bikini material. But seriously I used to shave and not doing is just so good. I stopped shaving when i was 21 and I am 23 now and dont miss it at all. I changed my diet quite a lot and I think this actually makes a difference but the hair looks super healthy. And when something looks healthy you find it pretty good.

  41. Ann says:

    Mark, for one- It's not true that most European women don't shave their legs and underarms. I'm from Serbia, and have met many women from, say, Hungary, Romania, Czech, Germany, Spain, etc. – all shave their legs and underarms, and this is not something new (it goes back to the 70s even).

  42. Maria says:

    I find it amusing that the author feels that it is only 'recently' that Europe is following the trend. How was that conclusion drawn? I am 50 and have been shaving under my arms and my legs since school days as have all my girlfriends in France and England. To see hairy armpits and legs is unusual.

  43. Tymo says:

    Interesting article. Would have been good to include comments from the model who said of the shot, that basically they’re trying to make the viewer think she’s about to “show you my p*$$y”, a slightly different matter. But my actual comment is about cyclists…as there are two generations of career, international pro cyclists in my family (me and my son), it is definitely done for functional reasons. Road rash, yeah, but also daily massages are easier and more effective and comfortable. It used to be said that it was for aerodynamics which was mostly BS… but lo and behold, recent wind tunnel studies show it offers a minimal benefit. When 10-15 watts energy expenditure over the course of a race can mean the win, well… And many of the “it shows your a serious cyclist” stuff is true, and yeah…we like the way it looks. But that’s not why we do it, nor are we projecting some sexual identity issues, as you assert. That’s YOU projecting. For what it’s worth, every woman I’ve ever slept with thinks it’s extra hot.

Leave a Reply