Earlier this week I went to the gynecologist for my annual, as they call it. Although I have been going to this particular office for awhile, the gynecologist was someone whom I had never seen in the past. Normally I request a particular doctor, but realizing that it was time for my yearly “check-in,” and being told my favorite gyno was on vacation until July, I really had no choice. I understand that an annual doesn’t have to be to the day, but I also knew if I didn’t do it now, I’d forget.
Like any woman, the last thing I want to do is go to the gynecologist. Between the stirrups and the consistent “just spread you legs a little wider,” it’s pretty much a nightmare. So there I am, legs spread, a doctor between them and I’m asked a question that I’ve never been asked in such a situation: “Do you always wax?” I told her that yes, I do. I assumed what would follow would be a mini-lecture on how waxing isn’t so great for the skin and that you have hair “down there” for a reason, but no — she took it a wee bit further.
“You do realize that in not having hair you’re just perpetuating the porn industry’s idea that the infantilization of women is OK, yes?”
I understood what she said, but was confused by the fact that she said it. I was there for an exam, not a history lesson on women’s pubic hair. I told her I realized that but I’m just not a fan of body hair, and continued to stare at the ceiling. However, she was not done.
She proceeded to tell me that so many women come into the office, completely bald “down there” and they have no idea the history behind why they were doing it. Again, I gave her an affirmative “mhm” to signal that I understood what she was saying, but I just didn’t want to get into it at the moment. She finished the rest of the exam without a word, and I scurried out of there mildly ashamed of my “bald” status.
My decision on my pubic hair is my own. I do not wax for a man’s approval, but because, as I told the doctor, I truly don’t like body hair. I’m very light-skinned, and what minimal body hair I do have is barely noticeable, so that patch of hair on my pubic bone has always, since the day it started growing in, annoyed me. I was shaving it off long before I even knew that waxing existed for that area of your body, let alone that some men (and the porn industry) found it appealing.
Although I appreciate what the doctor said, the more I thought about it, the angrier I became. Who was she to dictate my pubic hair preference? Why was this even brought up? She had more hair on her upper lip than I had on my entire body — did this mean we should all grow a mustache?
I called my mother, as I always do about everything under the sun, and she told me to let it go. But I do not let things go — I analyze them compulsively to death, and allow them to keep me up at night. Granted, last night I slept quite soundly thanks to some bourbon, but had it not been for that, I probably would have obsessively gone over all the things I could have said in defense of my missing pubic hair. And despite what my mother said, I clearly have not “let it go,” as I’m still addressing it!
Am I alone, or has someone else’s gynecologist commented on their pubic hair? And more importantly, do they even have a right to do so?