• Sun, Sep 30 2012

Why I Don’t Remove My Body Hair (Anymore)

As I got older, I kept shaving day in and day out. Even though I have extremely sensitive skin (thanks, psoriasis), I just kept doing it because I am a woman and I was under this weird impression that if I stopped, I would be the only one on the planet who didn’t. It would trigger my skin to get hives or be red and blotchy or simply throb for a few hours, sure, but I thought it was totally worth it to prevent any judgment.

Plus, I was really fucking fun to be around.

Although I never really felt comfortable shaving my entire pubic area, I still did it because I was terrified that if I stopped, nobody who saw me without clothes would ever think I was sexy again. Hair, after all, is sexy on men while the absence of it is equally sexy on women; at least, that is the assumption I operated under every time I stepped into the shower.

However, every summer starting in 2009, I would stop shaving my legs. After all, I was always in relationships with people who were far away (again, I did it considerably due to my significant others). I loved how short my showers were, how much I saved on razors and the way my skin was never irritated. And, to be frank, I even more loved the fact that I looked like an adult with my clothes off as opposed to the uncomfortably bald childlike parts I saw every time I looked down after shaving.

Without being too explicit, I still do some maintenance, but I don’t remove everything because I feel so incredibly exposed. Perhaps it’s in part because of my past, but I feel extremely uncomfortable when men tell me that they only like having sex with women who don’t have any body hair. I can’t help it; I think it’s inherently creepy to prefer your partner to appear prepubescent. Even if that partner isn’t a creep, it still gives them a creepy factor to me and I don’t like it.

Nor will I wear a silly little hat. (Okay, maybe.)

In fact, the elimination of body hair below the belt is probably the one I take most issue with being dictated as some kind of femininity requirement. It’s one thing if you prefer your body that way, so please don’t think that if you get Brazilians, I’m somehow calling you strange or insulting your habits! It’s just an entirely different one to be a man criticizing women who prefer their pubic area to show signs of development past their preteen years.

Upon recently writing about a survey I did regarding many women’s shaving habits, I received a comment from a man who stated that he “expects women to be clean and groomed” for himself, as though it’s somehow unhygienic to not shave. And it’s not really okay to “expect” anything outside of basic hygiene for your partner’s appearance; if you don’t already enjoy that person the way he or she is, why are you banging them? I get that people have preferences, which is fine, but insisting on altering your partner’s choices is different. If I had a nickel for every time I had heard a guy friend state that they found it “gross” when females didn’t shave, I could probably buy those fellahs each a trip to the spa so they could feel how awesome and totally pleasant it is to rip your hair out of its follicles. (Men, read: IT FUCKING SUCKS.)

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  • Jenniwren

    Good for you. I’m pretty relaxed about my legs (I wear jeans pretty much every day anyway), but I shave my armpits and “maintain” a relatively bare below the belt area ( I would never shave there though because of the irritation-I have a trimmer, and dear god, it’s the best thing every) simply because the regrowth annoys me and I’m too impatient to wait for my personal privet hedge to fill out. Aesthetically, I personally also prefer an all or nothing look. Probably I’ll let it grow in again in a few years, but so what? It’s my privet and I can do what I like with it. As long as you’ve found a routine that works for you everyone else should keep their opinions to themselves.

    Also, I find the guys who claim to be revolted by a full muff pretty unbelievable- do they really expect us to believe that if Kate Upton, for example, was standing there naked and willing with a little personal shrubbery or some armpit fuzz they’d turn her down? I call BS on that.

    • http://samanthaescobar.com Samantha Escobar

      Thanks! I’ve never really tried a trimmer besides scissors around there; the sound of an electric thing of any kind would freak me out. Buuuut maybe I should try it if you say it’s the best thing ever…I think it might make it significantly easier, haha.

      Guh, I know @ that last part. If somebody wants to bang me or anybody else and at the last second, that made them think twice, I would be pretty appalled. And if Kate Upton was standing in front of anybody, regardless of anything short of not being into it for sexual orientation reasons (and even then…), I’m pretty sure she could make their flag fly.

    • Jenniwren

      Oooh trimmers are marvelous! I like that they give you options- the trimmer attachment is great if you just want to tidy up and keep things at a reasonable length but the shaver gives you a pretty close cut that is nice and easy to keep up (twice a week works fine for me). For some reason I just don’t get ingrown hairs with an electric shaver like I do with a disposable razor- I don’t know why because they do much the same thing! They do pull sometimes, but that’s usually because I’m not concentrating on keeping the skin taut or holding it at the wrong angle. This my be TMI but I am very enthusiastic about shavers! Mine cost about $20 from Target- the blades will eventually wear out and if you consider the cost of waxing it’s a great investment!

      And yep, those guys always seem to be trying a little too hard, am I right? It’s like when guys claim they’re a “leg man” or a “boob man”- at the end of the day, most men I know are a “I’ll take what I’m given man.”

  • BeccaTheCyborg

    I don’t get how removing fluff makes you look like a child. I wasn’t aware children had adult genitals and breasts.

    And I say this as someone with some very cultivated fuzz.

    • http://samanthaescobar.com Samantha Escobar

      I had a feeling someone might bring this up. It definitely makes sense that a person could still tell another person is an adult even without pubic hair, but I think in part because my history which I mentioned and in part because it’s so frequently a device used in porn to make actresses look younger, it still really weirds me out.

      The term “cultivated fuzz” is pretty fantastic.

    • BeccaTheCyborg

      It originally was a porn thing because you could, uh, see more of the parts. It was supposed to be nakeder (totally a word now), more than younger. Then it became ubiquitous, and I don’t think I’ve seen recent mainstream porn with any hair, to my recollection, aside from a tiny little Dorito-shaped landing strip. Also, it totally makes sense with your history. AND, more importantly, it doesn’t matter if I think so, because your boundaries are yours, and others don’t get to negotiate them. Ahem.

      Although I am 100% with you on the creepiness of porn that’s trying to make the actress out to be (and my skin crawls at this phrase) “barely legal”. And it’s messed up as hell that bodies that aren’t drastically altered are considered nichey fetish stuff.

      Also, I call a lot of bullshit on anyone who thinks it’s more hygienic or that a non-shaved vulva smells bad. 1. I can’t imagine the dudes who say the former are going for the full wax themselves, so they’re saying they’re filthy and gross. and 2. Hair exists to protect it.

      So, apparently I have a lot of feelings about this too. I guess that one line just kind of made me nitpicky. Also, I love the way my pitfluff (which is totally carefully cultivated. I moisturize it. It seems to make it happier.) sorts out assholes ahead of time for me too.

  • Cee

    Tweezers?! Down thurr?! Good god!

    I don’t get men that say shit like “I only sleep with girls who shave all their vaginas..sooooo” Id respond “Well gee, I only sleep with dudes with big dicks so lets both make exceptions, fuck you very much!”

  • Sarah

    Awesome article! I do think it says a lot about a partner if they’re cool with body hair (or menstruation, or any other natural part/function of your body).

    A couple years ago I stopped shaving my underarms due to irritation and wanting to be as ballsy as punk rock and European ladies. After keeping them under wraps for about a week, I shoved a hairy armpit in the husband’s face. Though I’d have kept them either way, it was a huge relief that he found em sexy. I definitely get mixed reactions on the furry underarms, but it’s nice not to give a shit about it. I just wish I had this much confidence to not care in my adolescence.

    On the other hand, I’ve always been pretty insane about removing everything below my waist because personally, I like the way it feels. And I like the sensation of waxing (maybe I am a sadomasochist, I don’t know). My husband’s been begging me to let the lady parts fill in, but I still have a hard time with it.

  • Merp

    It took me a long time to drop my ingrained hair phobia – and it kind of happened one body part at a time during college. First I stopped caring about my eyebrows. Then my toes and upper lip, then the pubic hair, and then I stopped shaving my legs completely, and then the armpits. I found that it was kind of awesome not wanting to poke, prod and pluck (and accidentally cut, because I never was very much good at it) my body into “submission” all the time. Plus, my partner thinks the hair is sexy, which is an added bonus.

    Like pretty much all things having to do with the body, I think everyone should do what works for them without any outside pressure and alternately not bother anyone else about their own personal routine!

    Anyways, thanks for this article. It’s nice to know there are other hairy girls like myself out there.

  • Cassie

    My boyfriend prefers me bare, but it’s not because he’s especially attracted to prepubescence, nor does he think it’s more hygienic. It’s because he adores eating me out, and frankly, the hair gets in the way. So it’s not always a selfish reason. I’m very inclined to support his cause.

    • j.cruel

      I will never understand this argument. My husband loves going down me and back in my single days I enjoyed going down on girls–I’ve never had a problem with this. You spread a ladies lips when you’re licking her business. I know they call it muff diving but really you probably shouldn’t just be mashing your open mouth on anybody’s junk–that doesn’t sound like it would feel very good. Women kiss men with beards all the time without sucking down their facial hair. It’s not that complicated.

    • Rose

      If someone is spending their time “down there” licking your pubic hair, they might need a bit of direction.

  • Ziggy

    OK, nobody is going to force you shave your body hair. But its just more physically attractive if you do. Statistically, more men find attractive. So if you are attempting to attract a man it can only add to their desire of you. But no one is forcing you to do anything…

    • j.cruel

      Well, I’m only interested in attracting men who aren’t slaves to social conditioning. So there’s that. There’s nothing less attractive than a person who is incapable of discerning arbitrary double standards.

    • Deuces

      I actually shaved regularly down there since my teens, and when I met my fiance he shocked me by telling me he prefers hair down there. “I like to know I’m with a woman” was what he always said. I’d grow it out a bit, and when I’d go to shave, he said to let it grow a bit more. It was actually really hard to get used to! I’d been so “trained” as you are Ziggy. As a person with very sensitive skin, It’s been two and a half years now, and I simply “womanscape” every so often to keep it at a manageable level and am so glad not to deal with the painful bumps, irritation, and itching from it growing back. I don’t really grow hair on my legs but I do Nair my underarms, but he doesn’t really worry too much about it when they get fuzzy lol. I’m a lucky woman :)

      Now that I think about it…no man I’ve ever dated was super big on the naked vag thing, but I also made it a point not to date men who watch porn, so that may have something to do with it. They’d never been trained to dislike it lol.

  • Carson

    No, I dont think any guy is revolted by pubic hair. But I do think that more men would find it more attractive if you do shave. You don’t have to, but I really don’t see any reason why not, unless your busy or in a rush or something.

    • alexandra

      Did you read the story? She gives a few pretty good reasons why not.

  • natro

    I personally prefer women to shave down there just to make it easier for oral s#&^…and it looks extremely beautiful and as well as less unpleasant odor..

  • Angela

    Psoriasis makes shaving a completely different experience for me, and I imagine for the OP as well. If I choose to shave, I know that I will be further irritating and injuring my already damaged skin and actually encouraging further damage (it’s called Koebner phenomenon, folks, and it totally sucks). Aside from that, my psoriasis dictates that the moment I get done, I must immediately slather myself in lotion or I risk razor burn/bumps no matter how sharp and fresh the razor I use.

    So, all things considered, I often opt not to shave. I am fortunate enough to be very fair haired/skinned, so I’m blessed with remarkably little body hair to begin with, but even if I weren’t I still don’t think aesthetics are worth compromising my skin when I’m having a flare up. And let me tell you, if you think it itches as the hair grows back in down there to begin with, add psoriasis to the mix and you might as well be wearing underwear made of a wool and fire ant blend.

    For the record: I am in a relationship with a man who fortunately understands and does not care whether I’m smooth or fuzzy at any given time. His main concern is that I am comfortable and happy, and that’s all anyone can ask for.

  • alexandra

    Who is that girl in the hat and bathing suit? HOT.

    • Cate

      I really, really, really hope you are joking because that is Sue Lyon playing one Dolores ‘Lolita’ Haze in the 1962 adaptation of the book. I mean, she was 14 when that movie was being filmed, but still, it may not be the best sentiment to broadcast everywhere, considering the fact that Humbert Humbert is not the most sympathetic character.

  • Kenny

    I don’t get it. How does shaving body hair even come up on a date; and since when does anyone have to negotiate with date for intimacy? Exactly what kind of a date were you looking for? If you like limiting yourself to controlling men, then you’re really missing out.

  • MJ

    I haven’t shaved a darn thang in going on 3 years! I’m young and dress it, so sometimes I see people giving my tank-be-topped self sort of an, ahem, “hairy eyeball” and wonder, “what is their deal?” Then I recall: women who have armpit hair are by necessity the most fascinating freaks. For me, it’s really a case of damned if you do (horrible red spots and scratchy stubble) and damned if you don’t (people telling you that of course it doesn’t matter, but they just “prefer” a girl with no hair “down there” for “hygiene.”) I love the fact that I don’t scrape my skin off every morning before applying carcinogenic deodorant straight into my bloodstream, I love that my legs are soft and downy and I never cut my ankles open with a slippery razor, and I love love love having pubic hair. And men can certainly get a little hair in their mouth during oraltimes if women can put AN ENTIRE PENIS in theirs.

  • Amy

    It kind of annoys me that this discussion is always framed around heterosexual relationships and nary a mention is made of women’s demands/preferences for other women. Would it make a difference? I’ve always thought men acquiesce to shaving/waxing certain body parts in order to better appeal to future lovers so this isn’t necessarily a “female issue.”

    Personally, I feel more comfortable to be -mostly- bare and if I were to perform oral sex on a woman, I would prefer her to be mostly bare as well. Not demand, just prefer.

    My boyfriend, on the other hand, has stated that he likes variety, which I’ve taken to mean that he does not really give a shit because he just flat out loves vagina. On a semi-related note, he shaves his armpits.

  • LillyRowan

    I really think shaving ‘down there’, is kind of creepy. Little girls do not have hair on their private parts, women do. Frankly, I think that if a man wants a woman with shaved pubic hair, that it is perverse. Actually, I am not a fan of men manscapping either. Give me a hairy chest and back any day of the week. I want a man who looks like a man, not a nine year old.

    • BeccaTheCyborg

      I think you missed a lot of the talks about how puberty actually changes the body.

    • meteor_echo

      Erm… NOPE. I am definitely an adult – I have prominent hips and breasts and ass. I don’t look like a little girl despite having no hair “down there”. Reasoning fail on your part.

  • aguyinnyc

    I am a guy who prefers to have almost my entire lower area (back/front) waxed. I still keep a small “landing strip”, if you will, for aesthetic reasons. The reasons for my preferring this are twofold: 1) I feel cleaner and by association more comfortable and sexually uninhibited; and, 2) It feels awesome.

    Do I prefer my partners to be the same? Yes. It is out of some misguided misogynistic desire to control or delegitimize women? No.

  • MR

    A woman’s legs feel nicer shaved.

  • Melody

    That was a really good article. Thanks for writing it.

  • Cate

    This is a wonderful post!

    I shave my legs and underarms somewhat obsessively, partly because I like the way it feels, partly because, being ethnically Serbian, I have very, very fair skin and very, very dark, coarse hair and it just becomes frightening and mannish. I also pluck my eyebrows, my moustache, and my chin hairs. HOWEVER, I have recently stopped doing very much more than trimming on my ‘privet hedge’ (Jenniwren, that is an amazing term) and it is awfully freeing, I guess. It’s extremely unusual to see more than a landing strip in my line of work, but most customers don’t seem to mind, in fact, the ones who do have opinions on it at all seem to mostly find it attractive. I wish there wasn’t such an obsession with pube-destruction in our culture. If it’s something you want to do, great, but it shouldn’t be this expected thing. I would liken it to the way douching with Lysol was a normal thing in the early part of the twentieth century, but I’m not sure it’s quite that bad.

    I sometimes wonder if I could ever have the balls to go full Frida Kahlo and grow EVERYTHING out, even my moustache and monobrow, but so far I have not been able to summon the courage.

  • SF

    I don’t shave down there. I hate it. I hate how it looks, how it feels within a day, how it can start itching. Screw that. If a guy doesn’t want to sleep with me, because I have hair down there, then be it. I really don’t care. It is a personal choice and I choose no.

    • DebMoore

      Right! Plus I think it is not very sexy to be scratching my twat all day long. Kind of defeats the purpose.

    • http://samanthaescobar.com Samantha Escobar

      Oh god, the itching. If I don’t give into it, I end up crossing and uncrossing my legs so many times, I look like I’m trying not to piss myself. If I do give into it, I end up causing myself to get obnoxious razor burn which looks horrible and feels worse. I see no point to going through that when there’s not even a smooth finish possible!

  • Frank

    What a neurotic article. Women naturally see everyday, mundane things as Dynasty-level, epic matters involving existential crises for society, millennia long efforts by men to suppress women, and amateur attempts at tortuous Freudian analysis. In reality you have a lot of pent up emotion that you’ve tied to shaving because you feel self-conscious about your body and you don’t like the idea of being harshly judged, even though your beauty and attractiveness is instinctively important to you as a woman so you can’t just say “**** it.” So you’re a little torn on matter, great.

    • SF

      Oh. Frank..you know so much. Thank you for the in-depth analysis on women’s hate for a scratchy, prepuberty twat. XOXO

    • Vera

      Dear Frank,

      1. Please learn to capitalize nouns correctly.

      2. Please learn the definitions of “neurotic,” “tortu(r)ous,” and, possibly, “epic.” You may start here.

      3. Please don’t delete this post. It is immensely amusing that, minus the first two sentences, your assessment of the main point of this article is spot-on. Yes, we women are a little torn [up] on the [the] matter. Yes, it is great that we’re discussing now, since it’s ridiculous that more people haven’t talked about it.
      What’s even better is your apparent inability to understand the problem within what you’ve just described.

      Have fun in Douchequerque–
      V

    • Astoria

      She’s not comparing it to the war in Syria. Our bodies are always going to matter to women; we live in them every day. If you don’t think women’s bodies are political, you haven’t been paying close attention in history class. And you don’t think sexual attraction has psychological dimensions? Your desire to reduce the complexities of everyday human matters and strip out all the history and meaning behind them doesn’t magically make it so.

    • Amy

      OK Frank, well how about you spend 20 years getting all the hair on your body ripped out by searing hot wax every month (which would add up to between $20,000 – $50,000 in cost) because society tells you it’s a requirement of being part of your gender and being clean or sexy? And then you can have a whinge about this article.

      And since you think this isn’t a huge issue I assume you tell all the women in your life that you like them naturally hairy?

  • kylightening

    kyligtening says, i like it hairy keeps the pleasure of finding the treasure for another minute or so. hell i want a woman not a little girl! let her do as she pleases

  • Michael

    I think women shaving their pubes and armpits is disgusting. I would never go near a shaved vagina. The feel of them is awful with the prickly stubble and red bumps from shaving irritation. A full pubic bush is so sexy and a major turn on for a lot of guys. My ideal woman has unshaven pubes and pits. I don’t even mind leg hair on women. It makes them sexy and different from the pin up look we have grown so accustomed to. Hairy girls are the best.

    • John

      You folks need a history lesson when you say shaving bare started with porn in these modern times,,, Research ancient Egypt for a start, 4000 years ago..

  • http://www.facebook.com/fata.mare.52 Fata Mare

    You are pervers like your mom.