Friday, 16 November 2012

Kids being kids, and asking about shaving your pubic hair

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.


  1. No one has the right of way to tell you what to do with your pubic hair. Although many feel they do, why I will never know. Unless you're sexually involved with someone, you shouldn't have an opinion about what they keep in their pants!
    There's been a lot of push towards shaving/waxing it all off, many theorize because that's what young men grow up watching in porn which becomes their main sex education in the absence of comprehensive and in depth sex education. If you've never seen a woman with unadulterated pubic hair... and only bare women, you might form a prejudice, very similarly to the way women feel about circumcised and uncircumcised penises.

  2. That girl must not have the same set of pubic hair genes I have. I was shaving/trimming mine before I knew it was a thing people did or found sexy, because I was profoundly embarrassed by The Bush That Ate Manhattan sticking out of my swimsuit.

    Also, I don't think it's unreasonable for your partner to request pubic hair modifications, especially if they're going to be performing oral (and if you want it, they should be!). Pubic hair is not inherently gross, until it gets stuck in the back of your throat. Blech.

  3. What I don't get is how letting girls know they have options isn't letting kids be kids yet the rest of the world pushing the idea that they should shave is. I mean, isn't leaving them with one less thing to take care of in the morning (if they should choose to forgo hair removal) letting them stay a kids for a while longer just as much as, say, not feeling the need to put on makeup or not having to pluck their eyebrows?

  4. Teenaged boys should not be dictating how teenage girls maintain their bodies.