I had some debate happening on my facebook wall yesterday, with respect to the link I'd posted regarding Cameron Diaz giving a friend a hard time because she had pubic hair. The first couple of people who posted felt the same way I did, that to shave/wax or not was a matter of personal choice and comfort level, and a few comments about how sad it was that women were down on other women about their personal choices. One of my girlfriends gave me a hard time about talking about razor burn, ingrown hair or ripping a layer of skin off, saying "you're doing it wrong".
I tried very hard, without going into specifics, to say that while I was comfortable with my personal choice without necessarily feeling I needed to share what that choice was, I wanted to be an advocate for choice without shaming, because I have two tweenage daughters, aged twelve and fifteen. My girlfriend kept saying to me, all I'm getting is you advocating for the 70s Hustler look...let your kids be kids.
Hypothetically, let's say I have another friend with two daughters. This friend's older daughter recently had sex for the first time, and my friend, while simultaneously ARGHWTFNODONTTELLMETHATBRAINBLEACH and thrilled at the proof of closeness between her and her daughter, was additionally dismayed at the conversation that followed the next time she had visitation with her kids. The older daughter started shaving her pubic hair, much to the disgust of her younger sister. When asked, the only reason she could come up with was that her boyfriend thought pubic hair was gross, and declared that women were supposed to shave legs, pits and pubes.
My friend said, WHY are you supposed to? Do you want to? It's not like there's pubic hair police. And the only response her daughter had was to circle back and say, you're supposed to shave. Or wax. Or something. Otherwise, your girl parts are gross. The younger daughter was disgusted with this response, and said so.
Later in the week, the younger daughter phoned my friend to say that this had been a subject for conversation among some of her friends. They all feel differently, but they all are expressing various degrees of puzzlement at "who makes these rules anyway?" My friend's daughter said, I was so excited when I started growing pubic hair, because I thought it was one step closer to being a grown-up...and now I'm supposed to shave it off and look like a little girl with breasts? I don't understand. What if I never find a boyfriend who doesn't think I'm gross if I don't want to shave myself?
I'm not sure that I was able, even after taking it completely off-wall, to make my facebook friend, who doesn't have kids of her own, understand why I am so offended by the Cameron Diaz article, or the one that accompanies it about fur trim being disgusting in the PETA ad featuring Joanna Krupa.
Our daughters are growing up in a world where there's more than enough body-shaming going around. I sympathize with my girlfriend in her statement, let your kids be kids. Unfortunately, when a just-turned twelve year old can be upset about whether or not she needs to be worried about shaving her pubic hair, we don't live in the same world I did when I was twelve, and probably not the same one my girlfriend lived in either.
I'm glad that *my friend* has the kind of relationship with *her daughters* that pubic hair is something that can be discussed openly, frankly, safely.
Keep the lines of communication open. No shaming.