Pubic Hair in America
The Atlantic, December 2011
Edited by Andy Ross
Once upon a time, adult vulvas were coated in a protective layer of coarse,
woolly tresses. Today, fashionable vulvas are smooth, soft, and hairless.
Indiana University researchers Debby Herbenick and Vanessa Schick found in a
recent study that about half of American women between 18 and 29 are
sometimes or always completely bare down below.
In 1987, the seven
sisters Padilha opened the J. Sisters salon offering the "Brazilian wax" in
Midtown Manhattan. The peculiar practice remained weird, taboo, and rarely
administered until, in 2000, in a groundbreaking episode of Sex And The
City, heroine Carrie Bradshaw found a new swagger in her step after waxing
the hair off her vulva. By 2003, Victoria Beckham had announced that she
thought Brazilian waxes should be compulsory at age 15.
American women's pubic hair removal habits are few and far between. But
surveys tend to show that Brazilian waxing is largely practiced among the
young, white, heterosexual Sex And The City and Gossip Girl demographics.
Full pubic hair removal is most common among sexually active women and those
who report having frequent oral sex and who are not in monogamous
Women sport a stark-naked mons veneris for many
reasons, ranging from the practical to the provocative. There is a sexual
motive for taking it all off: Drawing back the curtain of pubic hair exposes
the clitoris, the labia, and the vagina for plain viewing. There's a tactile
element, too. Many men are more likely to perform oral sex on a female
partner if she has no pubic hair.
Pornography is also a driving
force. Playboy's representations of women's genitalia throughout the years
show that from 1953 up through the 1980s, more than 95 percent of the
centerfolds and naked models sported full, apparently natural pubic hair.
But by the 1990s, more than a third of the models appeared to have removed
some of their pubic hair. And in the new millennium, less than 10 percent of
nude models now sport the full pubic bush, while a third remove their hair
partially and one-quarter remove it completely.
Today, men and women
alike often consider pubic hair dirty or unfeminine. The same goes for the
rest of women's body hair. Women remove their leg hair and underarm hair all
over the Western world and say they would feel ashamed or embarrassed if
they didn't. Bare genitalia can also be a symbol of empowerment.
By Emily Gibson
The Guardian, August 7, 2012
Edited by Andy Ross
Why shave pubic hair? Maybe it has to do with bikinis, shaved celebrities,
childhood innocence, or even ideas about hygiene.
Shaving a body part
prior to surgery actually increased surgical site infections. Hair removal
inflames the hair follicles and leaves microscopic open wounds. When that
irritation is combined with the warm moist environment of the genitals, it
becomes a happy culture medium for some of the nastiest of bacterial
pathogens. Freshly shaved pubic areas and genitals are also more vulnerable
to herpes infections due to the microscopic wounds being exposed to viruses
carried by mouth or genitals.
Pubic hair provides a cushion against
friction and protection from pathogens. It is nothing to be embarrassed